Friday, September 18, 2009

Let's Try This Again: The U Is Not "Back" Yet

It's amazing what two wins could do for a programs fanbase. Really, it is. We are just three weeks into the college football season and UM fans are already declaring that "The U" is back, that they've got their "swagga" back and that they're God's gift to football again. I said it after the UM-FSU Labor Day matchup, and I'll say it again: "The U" is not back, yet.

Like I said before, the team is certainly on the right track, and they've got talent all over the field, especially at quarterback. But UM still has a ways to go before they can claim they are back. Honestly, have fans ever been so easily convinced of something after just two games? Probably, since these are college football fans we are dealing with.

Coming into the season, UM's opening four-game stretch was considered a murderer's row with a ranked FSU, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma, led by the reigning Heisman winner. But three weeks and two games into that schedule, it's not looking as difficult as once thought. Sure, FSU played one hell of a game on Labor Day, but last weekend they trailed in the fourth quarter, and needed a couple of late scores to eke past 1-AA Jacksonville State. This weekend, the Seminoles take on top-ten ranked BYU, and could easily start the season 1-2, with many unanswered questions. Hardly the team some expected them to be.

Then there's the Georgia Tech team that UM throttled on Thursday night. As TD pointed out to me, Tech will probably finish with eight-to-ten wins, but are ahrdly a top-15 caliber team. I tend to agree with that. GT's offense is truly something special. When executed properly, it is fascinating to watch it click. But once a team remains disciplined, stops that option (as Miami did) and forces GT to rely on Josh Nesbitt to make passes down field, they are done for. Nesbitt is hardly a quarterback, despite playing the position.

I don't want to take too much away from Miami fans, because these were two big wins. But I do want to give those fans a reality check. The reality of it is that Miami, while on paper having a demanding opening schedule, actually has some favorable scheduling so far. It's week three of the season and the Canes just finished their second game. They had ten days to prepare for Paul Johnson's triple-option offense, while the Yellow Jackets on the other hand, just had their third game in 12 days. The fatigue showed, and it showed early, as Tech's players were clearly winded after the first quarter. Now the Canes have another nine days to prepare for a trip to Blacksburg to take on the Hokies. After that, they get an Oklahoma team that will be without TE Jermaine Gresham, and possibly without Heisman winner Sam Bradford.

A 4-0 start would still be impressive, but it certainly wouldn't mean what everyone thought it would mean coming into the season. It would mean that yes, the Canes are relevant again, which is a great thing for college football. It would mean that the program is in good hands, and is on it's way back to where it was less than a decade ago. But we need to relax with all of this talk of "The U" being back. After all, it's only been two games.

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