Reunited and it feels so good.
This was the consensus feeling when the University of Miami Hurricanes with practices and a scrimmage under their belt held their media day on campus.
“The U” is ranked No. 8 in the preseason coaches’ preseason poll.
Players on both sides of the ball shared the overall goal for the team is a national championship. Moreover, one week at a time, win.
Ranked in the preseason top 10 for the first time in 13 years.
The Hurricanes are returning 14 starters from last season.
Speaking of last season, there were glimpses of the swagger returning. Mark Richt in just two seasons has made an indelible impact on his alma mater’s football program both on and off the field.
The Hurricanes opened the season with ten straight wins and posted their first double-digit win season since 2003. Three consecutive losses ending the year dampened the mood of what was a breakout season.
Miami finished last season ranked 13th in the coaches poll, but climbed to as high as No. 2 in the poll last season after blowing out Notre Dame 41-8 on Nov. 11.
“I don’t think guys are thinking much about last year and how we finished,” Richt said. “Especially in the middle of camp, they are focused on every day and every play mentality. It is hot, it is testing them physically, it is testing them mentally, and practices are at a high tempo, that is what they are focused on.”
Now, we will learn early which direction this season is going for the Hurricanes as they take their talents to Arlington, Texas for the season opener in a stiff test against LSU.
Offensively, quarterback Malik Rosier is not elite, but he can get the job done running the ball, zone reads, and throws that are safe. The playmaker is Ahmmon Richards who missed the end of last season with a left knee injury; his importance was illustrated on the field.
“I learned a lot throughout that year,” Richards said. “I am confident it is going to help me this year, just mentally just going through something, just being able to stay within yourself, It’s a lot I learned from last year.”
Richards broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record at the school. He’s healthy now and arguably one of the best receivers in the country.
The nation was introduced to the turnover chain, courtesy of 31 turnovers forced by the Miami defense last season, third most in the country. It made a loud fashion statement most silently.
The defensive backs for Miami are talented led by NFL prospect Jaquan Johnson who returned for his senior season and started all 13 games as a junior. The linebackers in front of them have depth led by All-ACC players Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney who are playmakers on talented defense.
“They now know what to do; they understand the scheme,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “Now what I am hitting them up with all the time, how do you make the players around you better?”
The most significant addition is tackle Gerald Willis III, who took last year off for personal issues. A former five-star recruit who transferred from Florida after his freshman year, Willis is a difference maker who will help the defense fearsome again.
In Richt’s first two years he led Miami to its first bowl win in a decade, then it first ten-win season since 2003.
The opponents on Miami’s schedule that also make an appearance in the preseason coaches poll are No. 17 Virginia Tech, No. 19 Florida State, and No. 24 LSU.
The AP Top 25 poll is scheduled to be released on Aug. 20.
WWW prediction: Their two regular-season losses will be the opener September 2nd at Jerry’s world against LSU and November 17th on the road at Virginia Tech. Win the ACC Coastal with a 10-2 record, take their talents to the ACC title game, however, fall to the Clemson Tigers for a second straight season.