5. Can this team win games in poor weather conditions?
This team has proven to perform well when the weather is optimal. But can they play mistake free football when conditions are rough? This team is soft when it comes to playing in the rain or cold. Under Randy Shannon Miami has lost games in the rain to FSU and Virginia Tech and in the cold to Georgia Tech, Boston College, California and Wisconsin. This team needs to realize that not every day is going to be picturesque. They have to grind out wins no matter the situation.
4. Can the back seven of the defense make plays?
The front four will be fantastic. The pass rush will be electric. The questions lie in the back seven. The secondary and linebackers need to create turnovers. Miami only has two proven linebackers in redshirt senior Colin McCarthy and junior Sean Spence. The safeties have seldom forced interceptions. Teams will challenge senior cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke because he will be on the opposite side of All-American Brandon Harris. The defense needs to be able to make proper adjustments.
3. Can this team handle success?
Can this team handle prosperity or will they continue to be complacent after a solid first month? This team has struggled finishing the season on a positive note. In 2007, Miami was absolutely embarrassed by Virginia losing 48-0 in the last game of the Orange Bowl. They started 4-1 before losing six of their final seven games. In 2008, Miami got slapped around by Georgia Tech and N.C. State to end the regular season before losing to California in the Emerald Bowl. Last year Miami had an abysmal performance against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. UM lost 20-14 but the score was not indicative of the pace of the game. Miami needs to get mentally tougher and stay humble and hungry.
2. Can Jacory Harris limit the interceptions?
Jacory threw an ACC high 17 interceptions last year. Jacory is a great leader but he occasionally gets too home run happy. The deep pass is sexy but not always the smartest play. He needs to improve on his check downs and underneath routes. He and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple must utilize the short passing game. If the offense controls the ball longer, it will give the UM defense an ample time to rest on the sideline and remain fresh.
1. Can these athletes become football players?
Randy Shannon is a tremendous recruiter. He can sway any potential student athlete that the U is the place to spend the next four years of your life. Miami brings in a lot of players that are highly regarded coming out of high school. The studs range from four and five start recruits, players who can run the 40 yard dash in outstanding times and bench press higher than the amount of calories in a Chartwells sandwich. The big question is can these great athletes make plays on the gridiron and become intelligent football players? Can they analyze film, recognize an audible and communicate together?
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.