Thursday, November 23, 2017
Colleges

Is Miami officially back? We let the turnover chains decide

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MIAMI — A question that has been bubbling up all season crescendoed over the weekend after Miami’s 33-point thrashing of Notre Dame.

Is the U back?

"We are back," former Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted.

"I don’t think anybody can say we’re not," receiver Braxton Berrios said.

Except for the person throwing him touchdown passes.

"We’re not back until I have a ring on my finger," quarterback Malik Rosier said.

To solve this months-long riddle, we examined six key factors and graded each on a scale of 0-5 turnover chains to decide, once and for all, whether the U is back.

SWAG

When Miami was atop college football, the Hurricanes were loud and brash, strutting in military fatigues to the Fiesta Bowl. These ’Canes aren’t as controversial, but they’re just as flashy. There’s more than just the viral turnover chain. After his touchdown catch Saturday, Berrios celebrated by walking with his wrists tight behind his back — a not-so-subtle nod to the rivalry’s Catholics vs. Convicts past. "Just having fun," Berrios said. Just like the ol’ days.

Score: 5 turnover chains



BUZZ

When Miami was winning national championships, the ’Canes were a hot ticket you couldn’t ignore. Whether it’s because of the turnover chain or something else, this UM team has caught on in south Florida. Sen. Marco Rubio was at last week’s game. Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez were fixtures on the videoboard the week before. College GameDay drew its highest rating of the season at Coral Gables, and the Hurricanes were Googled almost as often as mighty Alabama leading up to last week’s games.

Score: 5 turnover chains



TALENT

The pinnacle was the 2001 team that featured 38 future draft picks (including 17 first-rounders). These ’Canes can’t match that, but they’re not bad, either, even if you won’t find any of them near the top of too-early 2018 mock drafts. UM’s success, too, has come despite a subpar season for its most talented receiver (Ahmmon Richards) and a season-ending injury to its top running back (Mark Walton). It’s worth noting that UM has the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class in 2018.

Score: 4 turnover chains



DEFENSE

Miami had offensive stars, of course, but its glory days were heavy on defense with greats like Jerome Brown, Warren Sapp, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. This defense is deep and blazing fast with the statistics to back it up (top 15 nationally in scoring, yards per play allowed, turnovers forced and tackles for loss).

Score: 5 turnover chains



QUARTERBACK

As coach Mark Richt knows, The U produced Heisman Trophy winners Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta, plus Jim Kelly, Ken Dorsey and Bernie Kosar. Malik Rosier is 10-0 as a starter and runs well, but he’s not a star. He’s 35th nationally in passer rating (142.09) and 15th in total offense (305 yards per game). Good, not great.

Score: 4 turnover chains



SUCCESS

The Miami dynasty won five national championships from 1983-2001 with seven other top-10 finishes in that span. This team has the nation’s longest active win streak (14 games), is No. 2 in the polls and has already clinched its first ACC Coastal Division title. But that’s it — so far, at least. According to the S&P+ advanced metrics, UM is No. 9 in the country and not even the state’s best team. UCF is (fifth).

Score: 3 turnover chains



FINAL RULING

The ’Canes have come a long way in Richt’s second season. Hard Rock Stadium was buzzing last weekend, and UM likely will be in the top four when the latest College Football Rankings come out Tuesday night. The pieces are in place for the U to be back, but it’s still too early to bestow that honorary title upon this team. Rosier is right: The ’Canes need a ring of some sort before they’re truly back.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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