There aren’t too many college football preseason predictions that I get too excited about. However, I’ve been reading College Football News for over 20 years. Pete Fiutak and his staff do an excellent job providing insightful, in-depth analysis both during the season and in the offseason. Therefore, when Miami’s season preview comes out over the summer, I usually give it a read (along with Phil Steele’s annual college football guide).
CFN’s 2023 prediction on the Miami Hurricanes is out, and they see a relatively big step forward for the Canes in 2023. How big? In their final prediction, they see the over/under win total being 7.5, and that the Canes should be over that mark.
Last year’s team was a mess. It turned it over way too much, the offense couldn’t score, the defense couldn’t seem to stop anyone good, and the team still finished 5-7.
As long as the starting 22 stays healthy and the mistakes stop, Miami should have a sure-thing base of at least five wins - Miami University, Bethune-Cookman, at Temple, Georgia Tech, Virginia. The team should be good enough to at least split the road games at NC State and North Carolina, it should be able to handle Louisville at home, and then comes the wild card.
How cold is going to be in Chestnut Hill, MA on November 24th against Boston College?
The Canes will get to seven wins, and they’re more likely going to be closer to nine, but with so many 50/50 games, set the win total at 7.5 and expect more.
I think Fiutak is pretty spot on here with the expectations. Getting over that 7.5 mark and reaching 8 wins should be the goal for Miami this season. That mark would, in my mind, serve as the significant step forward Canes fans want to see from Mario Cristobal in year two.
And why? Because, as Fiutak notes, the schedule allows Miami a fast start. The Canes SHOULD (key word there) start off with a win over Miami (OH) in the season opener. Miami is presently around a 17.5-point favorite for that game. As Fiutak stated, 5-0 is a distinct possibility through Georgia Tech, while 4-1 (if they fall to Texas A&M) would still put them in position to find 4 more wins on their schedule. That’s a very reasonable situation to foresee.
The question is - if Miami starts 4-1 - where are those wins? At perennial stumbling block UNC with Drake Maye will be a challenge, and trips to NC State and FSU will likely be even tougher. Miami will probably need to win one of those three games while beating Virginia and Louisville at home. Clemson’s a likely home loss, so that leaves a trip to Boston College on the last weekend of the year as win #8 (or, again, #9 if they beat A&M in September).
I’ve been pretty down on the Canes this offseason, and from my viewing of social media, I’m far from the only one. Twenty years of having expectations only to get metaphorically clubbed over the head by numerous Canes’ losses will tend to do that to fans.
However, there is reason for some optimism. The passing game SHOULD be closer to 2021 than 2022, at least as far as philosophy. Tyler Van Dyke is back. The offensive line has added significant talent, both experienced players from the portal in Javon Cohen and Matt Lee and the two best incoming freshman tackles in the country in Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola. IF Miami’s line play is as up to the task as Fiutak notes that it can be, then Miami’s offense should more than give them a chance to win the games they need to this fall. Aside from the dreadfully inflexible and ineffective offensive philosophy that former offensive coordinator Josh Gattis implemented in 2022, Miami’s offensive struggles have largely generated from subpar offensive line play for the last several years.
I’m less worried about the defense than the offense, and Fiutak seems pretty good with Cristobal’s hire of former Marshall defensive coordinator Lance Guidry for the same position. I also agree with Fiutak’s take of Francisco Mauigoa and Wesley Bissainthe winning the starting linebacker spot this fall. Mauigoa is an heat-seeking missile to ball carriers and could be the type of aggressive and productive linebacker the Canes haven’t seen in years.
I don’t always hit on previews like these, but I think Fiutak’s is pretty spot on, both in roster assessment and in season expectations.