CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The mantra about external expectations at Miami probably isn’t that much different than the one uttered by most other major college football teams.
The Hurricanes are taught to basically ignore it all.
So there wasn’t any huge celebration on Monday when Miami was announced at No. 8 in this year’s preseason Top 25 poll — even though that’s the best season-opening ranking for the Hurricanes since they were No. 6 in 2004, and the first time since 2005 that they will begin ranked higher than any other team in the state of Florida.
And in the eyes of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who’s entering his third year on coach Mark Richt’s staff at Miami, no outside expectation can match what the Hurricanes will ask of themselves.
“I would argue that our expectations are not different,” Diaz said. “I think ours have been that way. Obviously, we had different levels of success from Year 1 to Year 2, but our level of expectation of what a Miami Hurricane football team should look like and where it should compete and at what level it should compete has really been the same since Day 1 that coach Richt came in here.”
Miami went 9-4 in 2016, Richt’s first season. The Hurricanes started 10-0 and reached No. 2 in the nation last season on the way to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division title, then sputtered and lost their final three games including a defeat to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.
But with plenty of experience back on both sides of the ball, the preseason consensus is that the Hurricanes should keep moving forward in 2018. Still, the mantra remains — ignore the noise.
“I don’t think guys are thinking much about last year and how we finished,” Richt said. “We’ll talk about it sometimes, but really, especially in the middle of camp, they’re focusing on ‘every day, every play’ mentality. It’s hot. It’s testing them physically. It’s testing them mentally. The practices are at a high tempo. That’s what they’re focused on, trying to do their job and do it well.”
Miami started No. 18 in last season’s Top 25. That was the Hurricanes’ first appearance in the preseason poll since 2010.
“A lot of the guys, especially the older guys, we have a chip on our shoulder and we want to finish strong,” quarterback Malik Rosier said. “I kind of feel that’s like the Miami of old. We want to start this year strong and finish it strong.”
Miami opens the season Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas against No. 25 LSU. It’s one of four games on college football’s opening weekend pitting one ranked team against another — the others being No. 6 Washington against No. 9 Auburn, No. 12 Notre Dame against No. 14 Michigan, and No. 19 Florida State against No. 20 Virginia Tech in an ACC matchup.