CORAL GABLES, Fl. Phillip Dorsett, the University of Miamis sophomore wide receiver, understands this is a special time for the Hurricanes.
UM (4-2) is 3-0 in conference play and sitting alone atop the Atlantic Coast Conferences Coastal Division.
But Miamis current situation wont mean much if the Canes dont defeat North Carolina (4-2, 1-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Sun Life Stadium, the first of three consecutive home games.
Weve got to take advantage of this opportunity 3-0 in the ACC with a chance of going 4-0 after this, and after that basically locking up the Coastal with Florida State and Virginia Tech (in the following weeks), he said.
Its a big opportunity for us and were really looking forward to it.
Dorsett wasnt looking too far ahead, and he wasnt overlooking the Tar Heels. He was being real.
Duke (5-1, 2-0) is the only other undefeated team in the division. Miami has already defeated Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3). Of course the Hurricanes have a long way to go toward advancing to their first ACC Championship game since joining the league in 2004. Theyve only played one division opponent and still have to play UNC, which is on probation and ineligible for the title, Virginia Tech (Nov. 1), Virginia (Nov. 10) and Duke (Nov. 24).
We feel good, but we cant get complacent, Dorsett said. Weve got to keep our head on straight and keep working hard and move on so we can win out in the ACC.
Miami was clearly over-matched in non-conference losses to sixth-ranked (52-13) and seventh-ranked Notre Dame (41-3).
North Carolina, however, is an even fight. Theyre not nationally ranked, this isnt a road game, and this game isnt the subject of college footballs hype machine. Those were big factors a week ago against Notre Dame.
I think if were all honest with each other the stage got some guys, UM coach Al Golden said.
That shouldnt happen this week. The young Hurricanes have had a good week of practice, according to Golden. And theyre at home. Miami played four of its first six games on the road.
If I was in that meeting when that schedule was made I probably wouldnt have voted for that, Golden joked.
North Carolina will provide an interesting matchup. The Tar Heels average 44 points per game while Miamis defense allows 34.7 points per game.
Regardless, the Hurricanes are brimming with tenuous confidence considering theyve defeated their previous ACC opponents by withstanding offensive shootouts. Miami beat Boston College, 41-32, it defeated Georgia Tech, 42-36 in overtime, and outlasted North Carolina State, 44-37.
And now they stand on the verge of doing something no UM team has ever done by starting 4-0 in the ACC.
I hope our guys understand the opportunity theyve created by winning the first three (ACC games), Golden said.
They seem to understand. And they also seem to understand they cant get to heavily involved in talking about advancing to the ACC title game.
We cant lose our focus or look too far ahead, junior safety A.J. Highsmith said. We have to focus on North Carolina this week and then well take it from there as we go forward.