Miami (11-2, 6-1 Big East)

The Acc

September 03, 2004|By KEVIN VAN VALKENBURG | KEVIN VAN VALKENBURG,SUN STAFF

Miami (11-2, 6-1 Big East)

Strengths: To put it bluntly, the Hurricanes have better athletes than any other program in the country. That's why they can lose six first-round draft picks to the NFL and still contend for a national title this season. Quarterback Brock Berlin should be better in his second season as the starter, and if running back Frank Gore stays healthy (two anterior cruciate ligament tears in two years), Miami should be where it usually is, atop the polls.

Weaknesses: Miami doesn't really have any weaknesses, but the linebacker corps could be an area of slight concern. Studs Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams left for the NFL, leaving a void that needs to be filled. Berlin was shaky at times but still won 10 games and rebounded nicely after Larry Coker benched him for a game against Syracuse.

Key game: Florida State, next Friday. Miami has won five straight against its rival, and the Hurricanes will be eager to flex their muscles in their first official ACC game.

Extra point: Only two coaches in college football history have won more games in their first three years than Larry Coker, who is 35-3 at Miami: Walter Camp of Yale (37) and Barry Switzer of Oklahoma (36).

2004 schedule

9-10 Florida State 8

9-18 Louisiana Tech TBA

9-23 at Houston TBA

10-2 at Georgia Tech TBA

10-14 Louisville TBA

10-23 at N.C. State TBA

10-30 at North Carolina TBA

11-6 Clemson TBA

11-13 at Virginia TBA

11-20 Wake Forest TBA

12-4 Virginia Tech TBA

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