Miami Hurricanes Not Ready to Focus on National Championship

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 21: Travis Homer /

Despite a 7-0 record this season and the nation’s tenth ranking in the College Football Playoff poll the Miami Hurricanes are not focusing on a national championship this season.

The release of the College Football rankings earlier this week had many questioning how good the Miami Hurricanes are this season. Some pundits have posed if Miami is the nation’s most overrated team.

Six one-loss teams and the nation’s three other power five conference unbeaten teams are ranked ahead of the Miami Hurricanes. Miami gets a huge measuring stick each of the next two weeks. Miami hosts Virginia Tech Saturday and Notre Dame a week from Saturday.

Head Coach Mark Richt and his staff have the team focusing on the season the cliche one game at a time. A lot of the Criticism of the Miami Hurricanes has been that they have won their last four games by a total of 18 points.

Some of the criticism is unfair. Florida State began the season ranked third in the country. The Seminoles season collapsed following the loss of starting quarterback Dondre Francois.

North Carolina has also collapsed after losing 16 players because of injury. Just two seasons removed from playing in the ACC Championship game the Tar Heels are 1-8.

Discussing the Hurricanes season with USA Today Richt said:

"“I don’t see where we’re competing for a national title yet,…We’re competing for a Coastal Division championship. That’s the focus right now.”"

While some fans and media members have focused on the limitations Miami has faced winning the four straight close games Richt has changed the culture at Miami. He has made his players more accountable for their performance and actions on and off the field. Richt spoke about where the team is at and the future.

"“We’re trying to get to a spot where we can win, and not only win on a consistent basis but execute on a consistent basis,” said Richt. “And do it on offense, defense, special teams, all in the same game. We’ve done it in the same game, but it seems like one half one side of the ball plays a little better.”"

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With a national television audience watching on the ABC primetime game of the week the Hurricanes will be under their greatest scrutiny this season. Senior wide Braxton Berrios discussed the opportunity in front of he and his teammates.

"“This is what we want. It comes down to this,…That’s the moment you want as a team and as a player. You want to be able to control your own destiny. It’s finally in our hands, it’s right here. It all comes down to Saturday. This is what you play for.”"

With a lit bit of help Miami can clinch it’s first ACC Coastal Division title Saturday. A Miami Hurricanes win over Virginia Tech and a Georgia Tech win over Virginia will give Miami its first Coastal title.

One of the marks of the 2017 Miami Hurricanes has been their bend but don’t break defense. The Hurricanes have been exceptional in the red zone. Miami Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz discussed the opportunity the Hurricanes have.

"“There is one thing that we’re excellent at. We’re excellent at winning and we’re playing a team that is excellent at winning, as well,…I don’t mean to make light of that. Some teams are good at losing and we’ve not been good at losing. The things it takes to win a football game, we’ve been good at creating those things.”"

Richt is only about two-thirds through his second season at Miami. The players are still learning his culture and how to win. He discussed the progress his team is making.

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  • "“We’re just a team that’s trying to learn how to be winners, you know..We feel like if we keep doing the things we’re doing and trying to get better in what we do and not get complacent in any way, we’ll be fine.”"

    While Miami was expected to have a good season and was the preseason favorite for the Coastal Division title this season, it is ahead of schedule in Richt’s second season. They have continued to put it together, but still, have flaws. Richt said:

    "“We’ve just got to put it all together…We’re getting there. We’re certainly moving in the right direction, I think.”"

    Miami has lacked consistency throughout the season. The offense, quarterback Malik Rosier, in particular, has struggled during first halves.

    The defense is giving up nearly 30 yards more per game than they did last season. If they can play consistently throughout an entire game the potential is there to be way ahead of even Richt’s timeline.

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    The opportunity to make this a very special season over one of just growth is there. The next two weeks will determine that. Could Richt win a national championship in just his second season at Miami? Only former Head Coaches Dennis Erickson and Larry Coker who won National Championships in their first season would have done better.