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2017 Virginia Football Opponent Preview: Miami

The Hurricanes should be the Coastal Division favorites - but still don’t have a quarterback

Florida A&M v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

2016 Record: 9-4 (5-3 ACC)

The 2016 Canes had an odd but decent first season under head coach Mark Richt. The team won four straight to open the year, then dropped four straight, then closed out the season with five straight wins. They beat all the bad teams they played (well, except for the Notre Dame loss) and lost to all the good teams they played (except for the bowl game beatdown of WVU). Nine wins is clearly a strong benchmark for a successful season, but the Hurricanes need to show that they can contend again with UNC and VT if they hope to make it to the ACC title game.

Notable Departures:

QB - Brad Kaaya (Detroit Lions)

CB - Corn Elder (1st Team All ACC)

TE - David Njoku (Cleveland Browns)

Notable Additions:

WR - Jeff Thomas (4 star 247sports)

OT - Navaughn Donaldson (4 star 247sports)

DE - DJ Johnson (4 star 247sports)

Best Name on the Roster:

P - Fr. Zach Feagles

Better Know a Virginian:

Neither of the Virginians on the Canes’ actually went to Virginia high schools and neither I believe is on scholarship - so let’s talk about their kicker from FUMA!

K - Sr. Michael Badgley (Summit, NJ - Fork Union Military Academy)

Badgley is from New Jersey, but did a post grad year in UVa’s backyard at Fork Union. He was the number 1 kicker in the 247sports rankings in his class and returns for his senior season at Miami after being named to the All ACC Third Team in his previous two seasons. He set the school record for FGs made in 2015 and has been the place kicker for Miami ever since he arrived on campus.

2017 Outlook:

Did you know: only Duke and UVa are the Coastal division teams not replacing QBs this season? Miami finds themselves in the same boat as their primary division competition: looking for a signal caller to lead the offense without a drop off from his predecessor. The job should come down to Jr. Malik Rosier (last year’s backup) or So. Evan Shirrefs (brother of that UConn QB) - but Richt has yet to announce the winner of this competition. If the Canes find a suitable performer at QB, watch out - the rest of the team is completely loaded with talent and experience.

Wide Receiver Ahhmon Richards should explode on the ACC scene this year after being the #2 option as a freshman last season. Runningback Mark Walton should also contend for All ACC honors assuming the offensive line plays to the level their experience suggests they can. The biggest question is obviously quarterback - if the answer is a mediocre one, then it won’t really matter how great the other units are.

On defense, the Canes return basically their entire front seven. Shaquille Quarterman had a good freshman season at ILB and the returning DEs combined last season for 18 sacks and four fumbles. The secondary needs to replace Corn Elder, but returns two safeties and the incoming class includes two transfers in addition to a highly ranked class of freshmen. CB is certainly the biggest unknown for the UM defense, but it shouldn’t be a bigger concern than QB.

Looking at the schedule, the Hurricanes should be favored in every game except Week 3’s trip to Tallahassee. They do travel to UNC and Pitt, which will certainly be more important to their Coastal championship chances, but the key game could be hosting the Hokies on November 4th. Senior day for the Canes brings UVa to town, in between hosting Notre Dame and the season finale at Pitt - which sounds like the perfect example of a fabled OVERLOOKED OPPONENT UPSET.


Is Mark Richt is the Joe Flacco of ACC coaches. IS HE ELITE?

Year two of his tenure should go a long way towards determining that. The Canes should be picked by most to win the Coastal and have a lot less to worry about on their roster than their division rivals. Of course, when Kurt Benkert ascends to his rightful position of 5000 yard season passer, Miami might find a new challenger to the ACC throne. Were that not to happen, I’d bet on the Hurricanes win the Coastal - and that will require beating UVa. Canes by three scores.


Will UVa beat Miami on the road?

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