I was in New York getting ready for the draft with some B/R colleagues and folks. We are excited for what the offseason Super Bowl will bring come May. Now, I'm back in Charlotte and ready to get into the college football life after spending a couple of days talking potential, upside and best player available. Here we go!
The defense is going to be better. The offense gets a healthy Duke Johnson, Clive Walford and Phillip Dorsett to go with Stacy Coley. Mix in nine early enrollees, many of whom will have a shot to make an impact, and Miami is in good shape.
All the Canes need is a quarterback, and Kevin Olsen seems to have won that job, as Ryan Williams is sidelined with a knee injury.
Independent of all things, Miami is trending upward. This team played good football in spots and just has to improve its consistency to turn nine wins into double digits and an ACC Championship Game berth.
This season, the fourth under Al Golden, should be pushing toward 10 wins as he gets his personnel into the mix and players understand the schemes.
Now, in looking at the schedule, three games jump out: Louisville, Nebraska and Florida State.
The Cardinals are an interesting wild card because they lose Teddy Bridgewater, but they have so many offensive weapons that it makes them a tough opponent to start to the season—especially when it is Bobby Petrino pulling the strings on those weapons.
Nebraska in Lincoln is never easy, even as it hopes Tommy Armstrong emerges as a reliable quarterback on a game-to-game basis.
Florida State is loaded to the gills and that game is going to be an uphill battle.
The rest of the schedule should be manageable, although Virginia Tech and North Carolina are pushing to be Coastal Division champions—the same as Miami. The Coastal Division champ will likely come from this mix of three, with Duke hoping to make it a four-horse race.
Right now, I think Miami should win. To do that, however, it has to be consistent and show up big—that means avoiding efforts such as the ones against the Hokies and Devils in 2013.
A healthy Duke Johnson should help in that regard. At the moment, in April, I'm penciling the 'Canes in for nine wins and an ACC Championship Game appearance.
Speaking of the ACC Coastal Division, the Tar Heels are going to be the biggest threat to Miami, and part of UNC being successful is going to be running the ball.
I actually did get to watch some of the spring game and did not notice as much of a focus on the run game. T.J. Logan looked great, as expected, plus the Charles Brunson and Khris Francis kids looked like they will be contributors.
Big-time early enrollee Elijah Hood is still learning how to run in this system and UNC is still trying to figure out how to use a running back with Hood's very different skill set.
In the land of shifty backs where Logan and Francis work solid on the wide runs and zones that allow them to pick their way through traffic, Hood's bruising, straight-line approach is going to take time to figure out.
Getting Bentley Spain and Caleb Peterson healthy on the offensive line will help the rushing effort, and that is a positive for the Heels.
Logan will be the leading rusher, but we will all be watching UNC to see if it does commit to running the ball more than it did in 2013. That means Logan with more than 150 carries, compared to the 93 that led all running backs a season ago.
@InTheBleachers any thoughts on Indiana? Think the Hoosiers can get their defense together enough to get a bowl berth next season?— Ben R. (@VT_Ben) April 18, 2014
I was high on Indiana last year. I thought that it would be in a bowl game for sure with the high-powered offense leading the way. The losses to Navy and Minnesota were crushing, and I was hoping to see Kevin Wilson's team pull them out.
As for this year, I love Tim Bennett. He is one of my favorite college football corners for the 2014 season—he's just a kid who understands how to play the position at the collegiate level.
However, losing Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes and Ted Bolser hurts. It hurts a lot. Latimer is one of those big-time sleeper picks in the NFL draft and he would have been a beast for whoever plays quarterback in Bloomington.
This brings me to Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson. I do not mind that the Hoosiers run with the hot hand. It works for them and both quarterbacks are so different that they tax defenses in a myriad of ways that create drive-extending moments for Indiana.
Defensively, outside of Bennett, I am not in love with a lot of what Indiana has on that side of the ball.
With that said, it played a ton of youth a season ago at key positions and players tend to fully understand the schemes and fits in their second year, which should lead to some positive results for the Hoosiers.
The new alignment is not doing Wilson's team any favors whatsoever, though. Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State are on the schedule, and that is an uphill battle. Throw in Mizzou in the nonconference slate and the Hoosiers will have to be nearly flawless the rest of the way.
Flawless will be tough because of the youth at the receiver position.
However, Indiana should be in the hunt for a bowl game entering the final three weeks of the season against Rutgers, Ohio State and Purdue. Beating the Scarlet Knights and the Boilermakers to get to six or seven wins would be a solid achievement for Indiana.
@InTheBleachers - Have you planned opening Saturdays menu for your spread? Smoking? If so, what? Include beverage of choice.— DinkDumpDish (@DinkDumpDish) April 18, 2014
Honestly, probably nothing. Over the course of the last two seasons I've saved my cooking for during the week and in the offseason. Saturdays are full-blown workdays, and that means standing up from noon until two in the morning with a couple sit-downs to write reaction pieces.
Just a lot of water and whatever leftovers I have in the fridge.
The more football I get to on Saturdays, the less I have to go back and re-watch on Sunday and the more forward planning I can do for weekly videos, articles and the like.
Therefore, I've sacrificed cooking on Saturdays in favor of getting work done and set up for the week.