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Between the goal posts: 'Canes are back

Posted by Mark Blaudschun, Globe Staff  September 8, 2009 03:01 PM

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Be afraid. Be very afraid if you are an Atlantic Coast Conference team with aspirations of earning a spot in the league's title game.

Ostensibly, that should include Duke and Virginia, but with both of those teams losing to FCS teams over the weekend, such aspirations should be put in the wishful thinking department.

For the rest of the conference, Miami's 38-34 victory over Florida State on Monday night sent the following message: The U is back.

"What's not to like?'' said UM President Donna Shalala after the game. "We've got an offense.''

What the Canes have is Mark Whipple running the offense for head coach Randy Shannon. You remember Whipple, don't you? He won a national championship at UMass, moved to the NFL for a few years -- where he tutored a QB named Ben Rothlesberger for the Steelers as they won a Super Bowl -- and he could have been and should have been the Boston College coach after Tom O'Brien took off for N.C. State. But the Eagles decided to fly in another direction.

Now he's back in college football at Miami. And the 'Canes are dangerous because Whipple is an offensive genius and for the first time in his college coaching career has the talent around him which can make the plays in his head work more often than not.

Jacory Harris, Miami's quarterback, played for the Canes last year, but the plays were being called by someone else -- Patrick NIx -- who was fired last season in a job-saving, house-cleaning operation by Shannon.

When he hired Whipple, it was the with the understanding that Whipple would call the offensive shots, allowing Shannon to look at the big picture and tinker with the defense.

The FSU game showed the defense still needs to be fine tuned. The offense is fine and it will get better. Whipple knows what he is doing. Always has. Plus now he has NFL experience.
You don't think Monday night's game could have been posted as an add-on to Whipple's resume? Make no mistake, Whipple is happy where he is right now, but he wants to be a head coach -- a college head coach -- somewhere in the future.

The question marks about Whipple in the past is that he didn't have any FBS experience, so those wise ADs and search firms went to other places before they went to Whipple.

Miami still has some work to do in the next three weeks before it can catch its breath. A brutal opening month which included Florida State, a road game at Virginia Tech, and home games against Georgia Tech and Oklahoma remain.

If the 'Canes get through that stretch unbeaten, they could be headed to Pasadena in January.

EXTRA POINTS: Nice to see Rutgers bring its "A'' game to its opener with Cincinnati. Maybe it's the television (ESPN) aspect. Last year, the Scarlet Knights lost to Fresno in an ESPN opener. Greg Schiano's team is just not ready for prime time...BC has it right. Ease into the season. Northeastern last week, Kent State this week, and then at Clemson. Kent State won't be easy, but it is beatable as Coach Frank Spaziani makes his decision between David Shinskie and Justin Tuggle at QB. Both will play against Kent. But the feeling remains that Shinskie will emerge as the No. 1 guy.

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