MIAMI(CBSMiami) – College Football analyst Phil Steele joined The Joe Rose Show on Thursday to preview the upcoming season.
When asked about his confidence level in the Miami Hurricanes, who head into their second season under head coach Mark Richt, Steele didn’t hesitate to offer an endorsement.
“I am bullish on Miami of Florida this year,” Steele said.
Steele cited the talent level on the defensive side of the football as his primary reason for confidence. Miami returns a young group of starters who thrived under coordinator Manny Diaz in 2016.
Miami played with a trio of true freshmen as their starting linebackers last year, and Steele expects their experience to put Miami’s defense over the top.
“If you look at their defensive front seven, it’s downright nasty,” noted Steele. “Now that (Michael) Pinckney, (Shaq) Quarterman and (Zach) McCloud are all experienced, that’s gonna be one of the best defensive front-sevens in college football.”
Steele also praised standouts from Miami’s defensive line: Chad Thomas, Trent Harris, RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton. He rates Miami’s D-line as the fourth best in the country.
On the offensive side, Steele notes the team’s biggest question mark: quarterback.
“I think if Brad Kaaya had returned this year, Miami would be top ten in the preseason AP poll,” Steele said.
But with Kaaya in Detroit to start his NFL career, the ‘Canes are in the midst of a quarterback competition. Junior Malik Rosier and sophomore Evan Shirreffs led the pack during spring football, but they’ll be pushed by true freshman N’Kosi Perry, who enters the fold for fall camp.
Steele says Miami won’t necessarily need elite quarterback play to find success in 2017.
“They’ve got a great supporting cast. I don’t think the quarterback is gonna have to win them too many games this year.” Steele added: “They won’t need the quarterback to win them games. They just need the quarterback not to lose them.”
It’s a reassuring thought for Hurricanes fans who await resolution at the quarterback position.
“Look at Alabama playing for all those national championships with first year starting quarterbacks.”
Listen to the full interview from The Joe Rose Show above.