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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – There are many things to be excited about with the Hurricanes as they kickoff the season Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.

The defensive line is as good as it has been in a long, long time. It’s big, physical and tough. They can really rush the quarterback. Defensive end Joe Jackson is special.

The linebackers are excellent. Shaq Quarterman, Mike Pinkney, Mike Smith and Zac McCloud are the top four.

Quarterman is about as good as it gets on and off the field. He had 84 tackles last year and has been dialed in all summer.

McCloud is 6’2 230 the biggest of the three and is a superb tackler and great athlete.

Quarterman recently answered a few questions as Miami prepared to open the season.

On the defense’s biggest stride entering this year…

“I would say that the biggest stride is the overall defense morale. We know we are good, but this offseason – especially in this camp – we’ve been grinding not just to win every game in the regular season. We’ve been grinding for the championship. Championship preparation doesn’t start once you start those first couple of games and get to the playoffs – it starts now. I think we have been working towards that.”

On bringing the intensity from last season into the first game of the new one…

“Personally, I feel that it has to be something in you that tells you why you want to be great. I feel like I already have it. It’s like a switch – when it’s game time – or even just practice time – you have to be ready to physically whoop the man that is across from you, to be honest. As far as the team goes, we want to be great so badly, we understand that we have to be really dominant. It’s not about winning by nine points. It’s about shutouts, that’s all we want to do. No matter who we are facing.”

New starting quarterback Malik Rosier is emotional, but he has become more levelheaded with his decisions.

He throws the deep ball well. He has enough arm to make any throw.

Rosier just needs to be more consistent. Sometimes he gets streaky; he’ll hit five throws in a row and miss five in a row. He needs to stay away from the droughts. That should get easier.

The wide receivers are breathtaking especially freshman Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas. They have speed that the Canes haven’t had since Devin Hester days.

Ahmmon Richards. Lawrence Cager, Braxton Berrios and tight end Chris Herndon will give Rosier a plethora of places to go with the ball.

Heck, Richards was a freshman All American last year and averaged 19.1 yards per catch.

In his second year I think Mark Richt has the Canes on the brink of being special. His teeth are deep into the program.

He knows what a champion looks like. The roster is close to championship level. The Canes should have a big season it will depend on the play of Rosier, depth at running back and offensive line and the defense must live up to the hype.