Ever since they fired Al Golden following the worst loss in program history, the Miami Hurricanes, and their fans, have been pointing to 2018 as a season in which the Canes could have their strongest team in recent memory and be in a position for a special season.
In 2017, the Canes were widely thought to be “a year ahead of schedule” after winning their first 10 games before a late season collapse. 2017 was Miami’s first 10-win season since 2004, and was another step in the right direction under Head Coach Mark Richt.
Now, with fall camp starting in a few days on August 4th, the 2018 season is around the corner and, true to form, Miami could be in for a huge year. And, even with some big name opponents on the schedule, Miami’s biggest opponent is themselves.
According to both ESPN’s FPI and SB Nation’s S&P+ metrics, Miami is favored to win every game on their 2018 schedule. Those stats are the numerical representation of the narrative thought that if Miami does what Miami needs to do, then the Canes could conceivably win every game.
To start, Miami will unquestionably be the most talented team on the field in 10 of their 12 regular season games. The only teams the Canes will face with comparable talent are going to be the LSU Tigers in the season opener and the Florida State Seminoles on October 6th. That’s it. So, it stands to reason that if Miami plays to the level of their talent, they should win nearly every game this season.
Are there concerns about the consistency of the QB? Yes.
Are there concerns about the Offensive Line? Yes.
Are there concerns about youth in the secondary, especially at Cornerback? Yes.
But even with those questions, Miami should be able to once again have a 10+ win season...if they do what they need to do.
Now, just because Miami is favored in every game doesn’t mean they’ll win them all. I already mentioned LSU and FSU as talented teams, and talented teams can always get on a roll and present a problem. November road trips to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in consecutive weeks could be challenging, too. And, even though they’re nowhere near as talented as Miami, the Pittsburgh Panthers have been a thorn in good teams’ sides for a couple years now.
But, again, Miami has the talent to beat those teams, a veteran coaching staff that knows how to win, and (hopefully) a chip on their shoulders after the way the 2017 season ended.
If you look at the end of 2017, Miami’s 3 losses were filled with self-inflicted errors (and a beast on the other side of the field in the ACC championship game, too). The list of things that Miami did poorly in those games is long. Regardless of the reason for the struggles, they existed. That was the embodiment of Miami not handling their business (yes, even for the first part of the ACCCG, in which Miami missed a couple chances before Clemson started rolling).
Miami is one of the most explosive offenses in America with a top-tier isolated points per play (IsoPPP). In short, they have skill players who can score from anywhere, at any time. Miami is also one of the most disruptive defenses in America in terms of Havoc Rate (TFLs, tipped balls, etc). And, everybody knows about the Turnover Chain, the gaudy item that’s, like, soooo Miami and seemed to supercharge the Canes whenever it made an appearance last year.
If Miami gets consistent QB play, if they run the ball with their impressive cadre of talented backs, if they get the ball to their receivers in space, if they block effectively, if they tackle well, if they wreak havoc in the backfield, if they cover receivers, if they defend tempo, if they execute well on special teams, then the Canes should be in great position to win a lot of games this season.
Legendary UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden said “respect all opponents, but fear none.” For the Hurricanes in 2018, even with talented teams on the schedule and potential pitfalls along the way, there is nothing to fear. The focus should be, as it was in the glory days of the past, on themselves. Remember when Clinton Portis and Ed Reed and Santana Moss and (insert other name) said that practice was the hard part and the game was the easy part? Miami needs to get back to that mentality.
Simply put, if Miami, one of the most talented teams in America with a wealth of experience to boot, is able to execute their system, they should be in position to win every game on the regular season schedule.
1 loss is understandable, because going undefeated is REALLY F*CKING HARD. 2 losses is borderline for this team with this schedule, but in the realm of possibilities. 3+ losses with this team and this schedule? Something (probably a few things) went really, REALLY wrong.
Injuries, turnovers, or other issues could impact the season, but the point remains the same: Miami will be the most talented team on the field in AT LEAST 10 games this year, and the sky is the limit...if they handle their business.
No matter who the opponent on the other side of the field is, Miami’s biggest opponent this year is themselves. And if the Canes can live up to their own expectations and standard of excellence, watch out.