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Miami Hurricanes

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Miami has had pieces to get to the ACC championship game the last couples seasons, but just hasn’t been able to do it, finishing with a 9-4 record last year. The opportunity was there for the Hurricanes, but four-straight losses in October did them in, namely a 21-point loss at Virginia Tech, the team that ended up winning the Coastal division. And now with a new quarterback, it’s not going to be any easier in 2017.

Brad Kaaya was a three-year starter under center, so replacing him won’t be easy. Malik Rosier has experience on the team, but newcomer N’Kosi Perry could take the position in the fall. Cade Weldon and Evan Shirreffs are also in the conversation, but Rosier and Perry are the main competitors. The ‘Canes lose two of their top receivers, but Ahmmon Richards (934 yards, 3 TDs) returns as the big-play threat that should see even more targets with tight end Chris Herndon. With the passing game likely taking a step back, the ground game will be the focus for this year’s group between Mark Walton (1,117 yards, 14 TDs) and Joseph Yearby (608 yards, 7 TDs). It’ll be important for those guys to match last season’s production because it’s hard to see the new quarterback matching what Kaaya did with 27 TDs and only seven picks. The line returns three starters, so that’s a decent building block.

The defensive side is where Miami is expected to take a jump after starting a slew of freshmen last season, which led to a solid 37 sacks. The ‘Canes gave up just 18.9 points per game and it’s possible they could be better this season. The front seven returns every relevant piece from linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney to playmaker Joe Jackson on the line. The question is if the secondary can hold its weight after losing their top couple players. But again, this group focused on attacking and youth last year and that’s the route the secondary will take this time around.

They’ll be tested out of the gates in ACC play with a trip to Florida State in the middle of September. Even if the Hurricanes don’t win that game, as long as they show they can compete with the best, that may be enough. In order to win the Coastal, it’ll require Miami to win a road game or two with trips to Duke and UNC at the top of the list. To help in their quest of a division title, the Hurricanes get Syracuse out of the Atlantic and also host Virginia Tech. The path is there for nine wins before a bowl game or even the ACC title game and that’s seen in the odds.

The Hurricanes were +800 at 5Dimes Sportsbook in the spring to win the ACC, which puts them in first place in the Coastal, just above the Hokies. With a new quarterback that’ll be a hard bet, but the schedule allows them to do just that, as long as the running game can be just as potent.


2017 Miami Hurricanes Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 9 at Arkansas State
Sept. 16 at Florida State
Sept. 23 vs. Toledo

Sept. 29 at Duke
Oct. 12 vs. Georgia Tech
Oct. 21 vs. Syracuse

Oct. 28 at North Carolina
Nov. 4 vs. Virginia Tech
Nov. 11 vs. Notre Dame
Nov. 18 vs. Virginia
Nov. 24 at Pittsburgh

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