Even at the briefest glance, Mitch Trubisky looks like best QB in this draft

It made me real nervous in 2012 when the Miami Dolphins spent the No. 8 overall draft pick on Ryan Tannehill, a guy who had started just 19 games at quarterback in college.

Now there’s a guy with fewer college starts, 13, who could go even higher to some NFL team on Thursday night.

MIAMI GARDENS – Former North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky gets rid of a pass before Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Joe Jackson (99) and defensive lineman RJ McIntosh (80) can get to him on October 15, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina might just be that good. In the one game I saw him play live, the Tar Heels’ 20-13 October win over Miami at Hard Rock Stadium, he looked like a natural fit for the pro game.

He threw 46 passes against the Hurricanes that day and got sacked just once, casually stepping or rolling out of trouble on several occasions while keeping his focus downfield and delivering the ball with such uncanny accuracy that the Tar Heels converted 14-of-23 third downs.

Trubisky threw a couple of touchdown passes against Miami, too. Each of those came on third-and-goal, and one of them came with 18 seconds left in the first half.

Getting touchdowns and not field goals in situations like that is the sign of a decisive, intelligent quarterback and in this case it made the difference between North Carolina upsetting the Hurricanes or letting them off the hook.

Oh, and Trubisky is sturdy at 6-feet-3 and 222 pounds. That doesn’t hurt, either.

Throw in a sensational career ratio of 41 touchdown passes to only 10 interceptions and a 67.5 completion percentage and you’ve got a quarterback who might go to the Browns or the 49ers or the Jets at the top of the first round, possibly ahead of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, whose touchdown pass with 1 second remaining beat Alabama in January’s national championship game, and ahead of Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, too.

If that happens, Larry Fedora won’t be looking too sharp. He’s the North Carolina coach who liked another of his quarterbacks, Marquise Williams, a little bit more and made Trubisky wait until his junior season to become the starter.

Of course, college stats and fluid college situations don’t tell everything we need to know about a pro prospect.

Dan Fouts, for instance, threw 37 touchdown passes and 54 interceptions during his college career at Oregon.

Dan Marino was close to a wash with 79 touchdowns throws and 69 interceptions at Pitt.

Joe Montana threw 25 of each at Notre Dame.

Last, Tim Tebow was an absolute stats machine at Florida, throwing 88 touchdown passes and only 16 interceptons.

Trubisky doesn’t look exactly like any of those guys, but if he winds up with a decent team in a trade-down and not one of the pitiful outfits at the top of the draft, he could become a real star.

Think of Aaron Rodgers, who got just 22 college starts at California. He came there as a junior-college transfer who had received no major-college scholarships coming out of high school. Still, Rodgers decided to forego his senior season in college, just like Trubisky did, and wound up going 24th overall to the Green Bay Packers, a team that was set at quarterback with Brett Favre and could afford to work with the kid a while.

It’s a fantasy to think that the Dolphins, drafting 22nd overall in Thursday night’s draft, might get a similar chance to draft a talent like Trubisky.

If by some miracle, however, he fell that far, or even came close enough to make a draft-day trade feasible, Miami would be foolish not to take him. Can’t have too many quarterbacks on your roster with the potential to be great.

Tannehill’s potential will be played out in the next few years, it appears, and he’s coming off the first serious injury of his career.

Weird that I would be more excited about taking a quarterback with 13 college starts than I was about Tannehill with his 19 but, hey, people keep telling me that I’m a little weird to begin with.

 

Still holding out hope, rational or not, that Mark Richt will find his way to the 2016 ACC Coastal title

It would be a crushing disappointment if Miami doesn’t find a way to win the ACC Coastal title.

Sure, I should be past all of this now that the Hurricanes are 1-2 in conference play, but none of this adds up.

North Carolina, after all, is the only team in the division that is ranked in the AP Top 25, and that’s at No. 22. We’re talking two spots below Western Michigan and two above Navy.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt questions an official during game against North Carolina Tar Heels in Miami Gardens, Florida on October 15, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt questions an official during game against North Carolina Tar Heels in Miami Gardens, Florida on October 15, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

For that matter, Florida State is the only other ranked team on Miami’s 2016 schedule. The Hurricanes have the benefit of missing out on Clemson and Louisville this time around. If you’re wondering how important that is, the last time Miami played those two teams it didn’t turn out so well, with Clemson winning 58-0 and Louisville winning 31-13.

What’s more, Thursday night’s showdown at Virginia Tech really shouldn’t be the nightmare that everyone’s making it out to be. Miami has a two-game win streak going against the Hokies, and each time the Hurricanes scored 30 points.

Is there no way for all this to work itself out so that Mark Richt, the most reliable head coach since the national championship years, can win the ACC’s weaker division?

The best route would be for North Carolina and Virginia Tech, each 2-1 in the conference, to lose a few more games each. It’s not inconceivable, regardless of the competition. Already the Tar Heels have lost to Georgia, which it turns out is no great shakes, and the Hokies have lost to Syracuse, a team that yielded 50 points to Notre Dame and 45 to South Florida.

[Adam Gase tells hard truths as South Florida celebrates the relief of big win over Steelers]

[What Hurricanes and Dolphins have in common this year is a real kick in the gut]

[Shades of Tommy Vigorito as something happens to wake up Dolphins fans]

Miami also could beat the Hokies, meaning that the two-loss teams on top of the division could be caught in some kind of tiebreaker merry-go-round. The Tar Heels might not come out so well in that once their 34-3 loss to Virginia Tech gets factored in.

All right, so I don’t know all the tiebreaker rules. You got me there.

The best thing is just to play it all out, figuring that the worst of Miami’s schedule is over. That may seem like quite a reach with a Blacksburg Thursday night coming up, but you Can’t give up on something illogical happening in favor of the Hurricanes, since what already has happened makes no sense to me at all.

 

 

 

If Oklahoma and North Carolina can be formidable in both major sports, why can’t Miami?

The Oklahoma Sooners are having themselves a year. Final four in college football’s January playoffs. Final Four in college basketball right now, and a chance still to cut down the nets in Houston.

Double-duty athletic programs like this are so rare that they deserve special recognition. I see two more at the moment, using my arbitrary measurement of Sweet 16 in the NCAA hoops tournament and a corresponding finish of top 16 or better in the final Associated Press rankings from earlier this year.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 27:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate with his team after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a score of 74 to 88 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional Final at Wells Fargo Center on March 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates with his team after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament East Regional Final on March 27, 2016. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

North Carolina is in the Final Four this weekend and the Tar Heels football team finished at No. 15 with a perfect conference record to win the ACC Coastal Division. Also, Notre Dame pairs an Elite Eight basketball team with a No. 11 football team from last season.

The combinations change from season to season, of course. Oklahoma basketball was going through a rough patch until Lon Kruger showed up five years ago. Michigan State, a No. 2 seed, got upset in the opening round of the NCAA tournament or the Spartans would retain their customary spot on the short list of two-sport giants, too.

My feeling is that Miami should aim at this double bullseye of overall excellence, and with a realistic chance at hitting it at some point.

The Hurricanes’ basketball team has progressed to the point with coach Jim Larranaga that going no farther than the Sweet 16 seems a disappointment. That’s how elite programs view March Madness, and Miami is as close to that status as it has ever been.

The football side is a tougher reach, but new coach Mark Richt is capable of getting the Hurricanes back in the rankings over the next few years and eventually back in the top 10. He wouldn’t have come to Miami if he didn’t think it possible.

Start the process by reeling in North Carolina within the ACC. The Tar Heels beat Miami 59-21 last November in football. Not even close. In basketball North Carolina beat the Hurricanes 96-71 in February. Same thing.

The gap shouldn’t be that wide, and does not need to stay that way. Miami is supposed to be a football school, for one thing. And North Carolina, a good bet to win its sixth basketball national championship, finished just one game ahead of Miami in the ACC regular-season standings this year.

[Believe it or not, dunks were once outlawed in March Madness]

[Bullish on Warriors finishing the job and topping 72-10 record]

[Adam Gase showing signs of openness that Joe Philbin never did]

It’s a fantasy to think that anyone will ever build the multiple monstrosity of national championship teams in both sports at the same time, like Florida did in 2006.

Miami can make itself matter in all kinds of new ways, however, with Larranaga and Richt on the job.

It doesn’t have to be about living in the past with memories of Miami’s football dynasty. Look to a double-fisted future instead, one that shines up the brand throughout the entire calendar year.