Barry Jackson

ESPN analysts “not buying” UM’s 4-0 start

Miami Hurricanes mascot Sebastian the Ibis charges the field.
Miami Hurricanes mascot Sebastian the Ibis charges the field.

ESPN’s prominent draftniks, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, watch college football very closely and this week expressed skepticism about the Hurricanes’ 4-0 start.

Asked if they’re a sneaky contender that could end up being a one-loss team, Kiper said: “I don't think so. I have seen this team a couple times and I'm not buying it. The schedule has allowed this to happen. I am a big Mark Richt fan. I like Brad Kaaya. I like some of the players they have. If they finish with two to three losses, it would be a really good year.”

Said McShay: “I tend to agree. Because of the competition, I have a very difficult time gauging how good this team is. I think they're better than they've been in several years. But I don't think they are anywhere close of the upper echelon of college football. They will continue to get better. Kaaya is the man at quarterback. They're protecting him a little better but against who.”

• Richt has a message for Hurricanes fans: Please be supportive Saturday, regardless of what happens.

“When our recruits see how much our fans support our players, through thick and thin, that makes them want to come,” he said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline.

But several recruits have canceled their visits because of Hurricane Matthew.

• Richt doesn’t like the idea of having to get the ball to one particular player.

“There’s aren’t many him routes,” he said, “[where] we’re going to throw it to him no matter what.”

• Richt is elated with the development of cornerback Corn Elder. “I didn’t see that physical toughness [from him] in the spring,” Richt said, crediting his weight room work.

• UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, on stopping FSU running back Dalvin Cook, who tormented the Canes last season with 222 yards rushing on 22 carries:

"Everyone goes in with a game plan to try and slow him down. Everyone knows he's the key to their offense, he's so hard to stop which is a testament to him, how talented a player he is. He has great stop and start, hits top gear very quickly. And they do a good job of using him in multiple ways, he's catching the ball very well now. It's very important to be aware of where he is, the things they're going to try and do to get him the football and go play."

• As of this posting this morning, the UM-FSU game was still scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. But because of the unpredictability of a hurricane, no decision is final.

This is the first of three UM posts today. For a look at the second, please click here. That explores the issue of whether UM has significantly closed or eliminated the talent gap with FSU. Evaluators disagree.

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