Kushel: Weak ACC gives Canes chance

PUNCHING A HOLE: Derron Thomas rushes for a gain against Charleston Southern during this season’s first football game. Photo by Steve Root // Hurricane Staff.

For the last three seasons, they have had the same record heading into week three: 1-1. This year, though, instead of coming off an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma, the Miami Hurricanes are coming off a week during which they played a respectable away game against the No. 5 Florida Gators.  

The Canes loss by 23 points was another large-margin setback, which has become too much of a trend in recent history. However, the feeling walking out of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was much different than that after the thumping the Canes received from LSU, Louisville and the Sooners recently.

It has been said that Randy Shannon’s squad may be at least one year away from competing for an ACC title. It has been said that Shannon’s recruiting class will go through growing pains and need time. 

The Canes are a year removed from a dismal 5-7 campaign. Not many programs flip the switch and have a dramatic turnaround the following season. 

The turnaround also may not be realistic with the several question marks that remain two weeks into the season, ranging from special teams to an offense that is a work in progress. Also worrisome: Miami’s inexperience at quarterback and a lack of productivity from its wide receivers.

However, the notion that the Canes should just improve this season is a mistaken one with the state of the conference they play in. Miami should be able to take advantage of what appears to be another down year for the ACC, which continues to disappoint among the BCS conferences. 

Miami’s motto in the off-season was “no excuses.” Now its time to practice what they preach and finally deliver.

Wake Forest is the only top 25 team in the conference. The Coastal Division teams do not scare anyone. Virginia Tech has already lost to a rising East Carolina squad and will have trouble scoring points all season. Virginia’s lackluster performance against USC speaks for itself. Georgia Tech and North Carolina can be threats, but both teams also have flaws. 

The Canes have to take advantage of this. It starts by making plays with the game on the line and showing some life in the fourth quarter, something the team has lacked in its recent decline. 

Most importantly, Miami must start taking chances. Quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris were brought to the program to make plays, not just manage the game. 

Defensively, the Canes may be improved, but they need to create turnovers and get off the field on third down more often. 

The Hurricanes may not be back on the map just yet. That does not mean that the bar is set low for this season, considering the conference’s performance over the first two weeks. The Canes should believe they can play in Tampa when the calendar hits December.