Can Miami close the gap vs. Pittsburgh? Greg McElroy examines the Canes' strengths, weaknesses
Miami is in Year 1 with head coach Mario Cristobal, but expectations for the Canes’ re-emergence as a national power are already high.
Miami is looking for its first ACC Coastal title since 2017 and perhaps its first ACC Championship since joining the conference. But do the Hurricanes have enough to close the gap vs. defending Coastal champions Pittsburgh?
ESPN’s Greg McElroy took on the challenge of evaluating Miami’s chances vs. Pitt and the rest of the Coastal in a recent segment on Always College Football.
First, the negatives: McElroy questioned Miami’s talent in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
“The best teams are built from the inside out,”McElroy said. “Why is it that Miami has struggled along the offensive line for the better part of the last decade? Maybe even longer.”
McElroy did acknowledge the benefit of hiring Cristobal — a former Miami offensive lineman — and has some optimism for the Canes up front in 2022.
“It does feel like they have some talent coming back, so there’s reason to think that they’re going to take the next step,” he added.
McElroy also questioned Miami’s lack of an elite front 7 in recent years — something that stands in contrast to the great Miami teams in the 1990s and early 2000s. He specifically cited last season’s Michigan State game, in which the Canes allowed Kenneth Walker III to rush for 172 yards.
On the positive side, McElroy is excited about quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis this season.
“The best news for Miami this year, you have two phenomenal coordinators,” he said. “Josh Gattis is gonna pick up from where Rhett Lashlee left it … I think this offense has a chance to be just as good if not better in a lot of ways than last year.”
Here are McElroy’s full thoughts on the Canes:
The Panthers lost Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison, but they brought in high-profile transfers at those positions, too. Pittsburgh also brings back a lot of defensive talent up front, including defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and defensive end Habakkuk Baldonado.
Miami opens the 2022 season with Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 3. That crucial game vs. Pittsburgh will come at home on Nov. 26 in the regular season finale.