In the world of CFB prognostication, Phil Steele is the name that many look to. With an annual CFB preview magazine — a thick tome of information, analysis, and commentary that I think every fan should have — Steele has made a name for himself as a go-to analyst.
With his annual preview magazine already on shelves, Steele has finally released his preseason top 25 heading into the 2019 season.
And, in that top 25, Steele has the Miami Hurricanes ranked 15th. High praise, to be sure.
Years ago, I (and many others) derided former CFB analyst Joe Schad for ranking Miami in the top 10 ahead of Mark Richt’s first season sight unseen. So, it stands to reason that we look at the narrative that Steele is using to rank Miami so highly and dissect that too, right? Right.
Here’s what Steele has to say about the Canes:
The Hurricanes are my pick to win the ACC Coastal as their Top 10 defense won’t go through the growing pains of a new head coach since Manny Diaz has been there for four years. Dan Enos will get the offense turned around.
Steele has the Canes ranked ahead of teams like Washington, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Penn State, among others, in his preseason top 40.
Furthermore, Steele exhibits his faith in the Canes this season by naming Miami his #2 surprise team for the 2019 season. Steele’s surprise teams are those who had a less-than-stellar season a year ago that he expects to turn things around in a big way this year.
You’ve already seen what Steele had to say about putting Miami at 15th in his preseason rankings. Here’s what Steele said to rank the Canes as his #2 surprise team in 2019:
My #2 surprise team is the Miami Hurricanes, who did well as my #2 surprise team just two years ago. They opened the year AP #18 but got to 10-0 and #2 in the country before they were hit with injuries and dropped their last three games. Normally there is a learning curve for a first-year head coach but Manny Diaz has been here for four years and knows the players well. Despite their 7-6 record and 35-3 bowl loss, Miami had a solid defense that held foes to 123 yards per game below their season average (#5 in the country). Most of that defense is back, led by their veteran LB corps. OC Dan Enos has talent to work with on an offense that underachieved last year. They do open with Florida but only have four true road games this year and none versus any of my Top 25 teams. They are in the Going Up box for a softer schedule and had five Net Upsets last year. Miami will likely not be ranked in the preseason (in the USA Today/Coaches or Associated Press polls).
I like that Steele doubled down on his projection that Miami will bounce back in 2019. It would have been easy in one part of his magazine or another to hedge his bet and play devil’s advocate that Miami would reprise yet another underachieving season. Steele, however, did not do that, and is at least one national analyst who is very bullish on Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes in the 2019 season.
It’s not good to have to bounce back after a mediocre season, but I’d rather Miami prove Steele correct and actually bounce back rather then slide back into the muck of an 8-4 or 7-5 regular season.
Obviously Phil Steele is high on the Canes for the 2019 season. Are you? Hop in the comments and let’s discuss.
Phil Steele’s College Football 2019 preview is on stands and in bookstores nationwide.