CORAL GABLES — With the final scrimmage coming up Saturday and just over two weeks until kickoff at...
CORAL GABLES — With the final scrimmage coming up Saturday and just over two weeks until kickoff at Boston College, it’s time to get real. How good will this Miami football team really be?
That was one of the questions I posed ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit this afternoon in a quick phone interview. It was time to get some fresh eyes on the situation — someone from outside the bubble. He was honest about the Hurricanes’ success potential.
"I think it’s going to be a long year," Herbstreit said. It’s incredible, I think, the challenge Al Golden has with that they’re trying to achieve this year. … I think if they’re a .500 team this year, I think that would be an outstanding year."
Having so many young players potentially stepping into major roles will make for growing pains, Herbstreit said.
"From following the game so long, it’s very rare to see young players step in right away, especially when you have a big group of them. When I look at them on paper, you don’t know a lot of the names so it’s unfair to say they’re not talented or they can’t live up to the lofty standards of The U, but looking at the names that you see, there’s really nobody that stands out to me that strikes fear into the defense.
"Until they prove that, I think what they’ll face is a lot of 8-men up in the box trying to stop the running game and trying to get Stephen Morris into those 3-and-6, 3rd-and-7 situations and blitz him like crazy. Until the receivers can prove that they can get away from man-coverage, until this offense shows it can throw the football consistently, I think people will try to load up and close down the opportunity for this offense to make anything happen in the running game and put it all on Stephen Morris and the passing game."
Now a decade after playing for its last national title, Herbstreit said the secret for Miami’s return to glory is not hard to decipher.
"They’ve got to get this whole Shapiro thing behind them. I think it’s impossible to know how long that’s going to take. They need that dark cloud to just go away. That whole thing — when they’re still investigating — it makes you really look at the Penn State thing and really go, ‘wow, that was fast.’ This Miami thing has been going on for over a year. It’s the fear of the unknown that has such a negative impact on recruiting and the brand."