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What to take from the Miami Hurricanes in September

The Miami Hurricanes are 4-0 for the first time since 2004, and in general the state of the program is trending upward. Still, the team has really only played one team with a pulse in Florida and three others (Florida Atlantic, Savannah State, South Florida) that had no realistic chance to compete with the Hurricanes.

So what can we take from the first month of the 2013 University of Miami football season?

  • Well, perhaps the biggest revelation is the improvement along the defensive line. Last season, the group was among the worst of teams in the so-called BCS conferences. This year? Not world-beating, but they’ve been above average so far. Other than a couple of runs in the last few weeks, one of which coming against UM backups, the run defense has been better. Additionally, there’s something of a pass rush now, of which there was probably less than at any point in the last 25 years a season ago.
  • Although they’ve been nicked up, Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson look like the All-ACC type performers they were expected to be coming into the season. Morris experienced some initial shakiness as he seemingly became acclimated to James Coley’s offense and Johnson’s two fumbles against USF are a cause for concern, but overall UM knows who its stars are.
  • The offensive line has somewhat disappointed. Even against Savannah State, at one point Johnson had 12 yards on six carries. Why? The offensive line struggled to get push. They got almost no push against Florida, though that’s a little more understandable, but the pass protection has only been average, and that’s part of the reason why Morris is hurt.
  • Special teams have generally been good, though maybe not quite what they were last season so far. Having a punt blocked against Florida proved costly, many good returns have been nullified due to penalty and Matt Goudis’ miss 23-yard field goal are all cause for concern if you’re a Hurricanes fan but overall the unit’s been better than the opposition’s more often than not.
  • Miami’s going to have to go 7-1 to win the Coastal Division. Virginia Tech doesn’t play Clemson or Florida State from the Atlantic Division, and is favored to win the rest of its ACC games beyond their contest with UM. The Hurricanes must win their November 9th contest and, if the Hokies were to go undefeated other than a loss to UM, the ‘Canes could only afford one ACC loss if they wanted to make the trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game. Given that they’re underdogs at Florida State on Novemeber 2, the question is this: Can UM go undefeated against the Coastal Division? That’s a tough thing to ask.

For more information, please visit: www.collegefootballnews.com, www.miamiherald.com, www.nationalchamps.net and www.espn.com.