University of Miami

Podcast: Why the North Carolina game might be the most telling on Miami’s schedule

The Miami Hurricanes haven’t had much trouble with the North Carolina Tar Heels in the last few seasons. In 2018, Miami blew out North Carolina in Miami Gardens by scoring three defensive touchdowns at Hard Rock Stadium. In 2017, the Hurricanes survived a little bit of a scare, but Malik Rosier threw for 356 yards to keep Miami’s perfect season intact.

The Tar Heels aren’t the same team as they were the last few years, though. Mack Brown took over as coach in the offseason, named a freshman his starting quarterback in the preseason, then led North Carolina to a 24-20 win against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday to open the regular season. If this ever looked like a relatively easy road win for the Hurricanes, the expectation changed quickly.

Of course, Miami is a much different team than it was the last few years, too. Manny Diaz took over as coach in the offseason, named a freshman his starting quarterback in the preseason, then pushed the No. 11 Florida Gators to the brink before a 24-20 loss to open the Hurricanes’ regular season last month. If Miami blows a winnable game to the Tar Heels, it might have only itself to blame.

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The Eye on the U podcast is back after a rare Week 1 bye, and David Wilson and Susan Miller Degnan, the Hurricanes beat writer for the Miami Herald, are here to sort through the Hurricanes’ expectations for their Atlantic Coast Conference opener Saturday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

For Miami, this is still a game it should win even after quarterback Sam Howell made an impressive debut in Charlotte, guiding a fourth-quarter comeback against a Southeastern Conference opponent.

It’s all easier said than done, though. The Hurricanes’ edge in talent won’t mean anything if the culture isn’t as transformed as Diaz hopes it is, and it’s impossible to know whether it’s the case until Miami gets out on the field and tries to bounce back from a devastating loss to an archrival.