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Miami football preview: 5 things to watch

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: August 29, 2013 at 11:52 PM

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Hurricane-friendly schedule

Miami doesn’t leave the Sunshine State until Oct. 17, plays seven of its 12 regular-season games at home and hosts Virginia Tech for the second straight year, a quirky gift that came because of how the schedules had to be configured in the expanded ACC. So in that regard, the Hurricanes seem to have a favorable schedule. But they’re also the only presumed Coastal contender that will meet Florida State this season.

Sunshine State battles

The mythical-but-still-brag-worthy state championship should be on Miami’s radar this season. The Hurricanes open at home against Florida Atlantic (tonight), host Florida on Sept. 7, make the quick trip to face a rebuilding South Florida team three weeks later and then visit Florida State on Nov. 2. Miami has lost four of its past six games against in-state opponents from major conferences.

Strength on offensive line

Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson are good on their own, but Miami’s fortunes are tied to the group who will block for them. Offensive line play should be a strength for the Hurricanes, with plenty of size and experience. Brandon Linder and Shane McDermott might be two of the smarter Hurricanes in years, and Seantrel Henderson says his last season will be played with purpose. If this group stays healthy, Miami will score plenty.

Experience could pay off on D

A year ago, the Hurricanes went young on defense, out of sheer necessity in some areas and partly because Miami realized that getting players on the field more in 2012 could pay dividends in 2013. The defensive line has gotten bigger and deeper, so there’s reason to think Miami might be considerably better on that side of the ball.

Is an ACC title in store?

Miami is entering its 10th ACC season and still hasn’t won a conference title. And the last time the Hurricanes so much as won a bowl game was in 2006. Another seven-win season won’t be enough for a success.

The Associated Press

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