‘Canes know there’s much more improving to do

Miami linebacker Sean Spence said the Hurricanes would have two

tasks when reviewing a less-than-pretty win over Duke.

”Evaluate the film,” Spence said, ”and evaluate

ourselves.”

Evidently, beating the Blue Devils doesn’t make Miami feel as if

all its problems are suddenly fixed. Voters, however, are

apparently seeing plenty of promise.

A 28-13 road win over Duke on Saturday at least got the

Hurricanes (4-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) back on the winning

track, a week after a four-touchdown loss to archrival Florida

State knocked Miami out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll and put

the team in a precarious spot in the Coastal Division race.

On Sunday, Miami returned to the poll, checking back in at No.

25, even after appear to be sleepwalking at times against Duke. It

could have been a dominant showing by the Hurricanes – they forced

seven turnovers, but only converted those into 14 points.

”This is college football. Anytime you get a win, you’ve got to

run with it,” cornerback Ryan Hill said. ”There were some things

that we’ve got to clean up and obviously we’re going to go back,

look at film and get some things cleaned up. We’re not where we

want to be right now as a team, so we’ll go back to practice and

keep pushing.”

They better push quickly. A make-or-break game awaits this

week.

North Carolina (4-2, 2-1) visits Miami on Saturday night, and

although it represents merely the midway point in the ACC race for

both teams, the loser will likely need a ton of help to remain

viable in the conference title chase. And the Hurricanes have

stumbled mightily against the Tar Heels in recent years; North

Carolina has won the last three games in the series.

”They own us until we prove otherwise,” Spence said.

In the ACC Coastal race, the picture is becoming clear, and the

best team in what essentially amounts to a mini-season will

probably move on to the conference title game.

Virginia Tech (back in the rankings at No. 23 this week) is 3-0

in league play, Georgia Tech is 3-1, North Carolina and Miami are

both 2-1. Head-to-head, there’s only been one game between those

four teams; the Yellow Jackets beat the Tar Heels 30-24 on Sept.

18.

Otherwise, for those Coastal teams, the biggest part of the

season starts now.

”Got to steadily improve and get better as we keep going into

the Coastal Division, to try to reach our goal at the end of the

day,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said.

There were bright spots for Miami against Duke.

Quarterback Jacory Harris didn’t throw an interception and

seemed to struggle less with his array of nagging physical

ailments. Damien Berry rushed for 100-plus yards for the third

straight game, becoming just the fifth running back in school

history to accomplish that feat. Leonard Hankerson caught his

seventh touchdown pass; only five players in major college football

have more in 2010.

”We’ve still got a long ways to go,” Shannon said. ”Still

have a lot of things to get done.”