CHAPEL HILL, N.C.. -- We had availability this afternoon with ESPN personalities Rece Davis and Jesse Palmer, who will be on the broadcast tonight for the UM at UNC game. Both don't think we'll really see just how good Miami is until two weeks from now at Florida State -- but both are high on Al Golden (So, who isn't?) and it seemed to me that Rece Davis is pretty high on UM in general.
ON HOW BIG THE NEXT FEW WEEKS WILL BE FOR MIAMI:
Jesse Palmer: "Really, the big weeks are going to be I think in early November, when they play against Florida State on the road and then against Virginia Tech, who I think is a really good team -- a team that has won six games since they lost to Alabama.
"From a subjective standpoint, you try to compare them to a Florida State or a Clemson -- it is hard. There's no doubt Miami is so explosive, and they have that ability. At the same time, to me they've been a little more inconsistent then those other two offenses. They've turned the football over a lot this year, already 10 times. They're averaging two a game.
"It's hard to know how good their defense really is because they just haven't yet played a maruqee offense this season. they're going to have that opportunity when they finally play Florida State. But tonight against North Carolina [and] their next game agaisnt Wake Forest, I don't know if that really provides the opportunity you need to see them play before you can say with conviction they're a top 10 or top 5 team."
ON TONIGHT'S ATMOSPHERE AND NC ''ZERO DARK THURSDAY'' ALL-BLACK UNIFORM THEME
Rece Davis: "I think it's a real thing. It's an intangible and you can't quantify it. But what you have is a team that, frankly, across the board is not very good. But they have a really good quarterback, they have an NFL tight end, and they have some young talent here and there and one really good defensive lineman and a couple pretty good defensive backs. So, they've got pieces, and they're desperate and they're embarrassed and they want to atone. All of those things are intangibles that you can't quantify that will probably have them playing their best game of the season.
"If Miami is what it wants to be, they'll be able to handle that because they're the better team. They will be the better team no matter what the score is at the end of the game. Miami will still be better. But it's like Holtz tells me every Saturday, the best team doesn't always win, the team that plays the best inside the stadium that night does. So it's real, I think there's an opportunity, but I do think Miami is significantly better."
DO YOU BELIEVE MIAMI IS REALLY THE NO. 10 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY?
Rece Davis: "I have them ranked --they're in the power rankings based on what I think they deserve. Realistically I would probably view them around 15 to 18, somewhere in that neighborhood, and that's no slight. They're good, they're building and I think all the arrows are pointing up.
"I think what Al [Golden] has done is remarkable. I was just saying in our meeting earlier, you want to talk about a guy that won't take a shortcut -- a guy who takes the Temple job and a guy who stays at Miami through what the NCAA has put them through? That's a guy who won't take a shortcut and I think he's doing a tremendous job. I think he's one of the brightest young coaches in all of college football. Because of that, I think Miami is close to being [back]. ..
"I'm not sure I look at them and say, 'Boy, they're overwhelming -- this is a juggernaut.' Somebody asked me if they were back to [being] the old U. I was like, 'I don't see Sapp and Vilma and Irvin and people like that running around out there.' They've got good players, but I don't know if they have that good level of player yet.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN