2010 record: 7-6 overall, 5-3 conference
2010 Bowl Game: 33-17 loss to Notre Dame in Sun Bowl
2010 ATS: 5-8
2010 O/U: 5-7-1
Returning starters: 13 total (6 on offense, 7 on defense)
Over the month of August, our team of writers will be previewing the top teams heading into an exciting 2011 campaign. The college football handicappers at Maddux Sports are also preparing and have season-long packages readily available for clients. It’s now time to head to Coral Gables, Florida and look at how Al Golden is handling the pressures of South Florida.
After spending nine seasons in the NFL, including a year as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, Jedd Fisch now hopes to resurrect a proud tradition. Miami has long been known as one of college football’s greatest offensive teams and many expect a return to that level under his watch.
His first order of business is teaching quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris to take better care of the football. The pair combined to throw 3,013 yards and 21 touchdowns, but also threw 27 interceptions, directly leading to the school’s 104th ranking in turnover margin.
Plenty of time should be available for the signal callers to make proper decisions, as four starters return to the offensive line. It must be said that it isn’t the most decorated group and the most experienced member is senior guard Harland Gunn with 18 career starts.
Speed and a lot of it is the name of the game in the backfield. Lamar Miller is lightning fast and displayed his willingness to sit atop the depth chart with touchdown runs of 70 and 64 yards in the school’s spring game.
The rushing between tackles will be handled by junior Mike James, who averaged 5.7 yards a carry in gaining 398 yards on the ground last year.
Miami will definitely test opposing defenses vertically through the passing game, starting with senior wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who has averaged 17.1 yards a catch on his 90 career pass receptions.
A 4-3 defensive alignment remains and seven starters return to a unit that finished the 2010 season No. 22 in total defense. Three members were recently named to the pre-season watch list for the Nagurski Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
Outside linebacker Sean Spence is at the top of that list within the locker room and earned second-team All-ACC honors last year. He finished with 110 tackles, including 16 for a loss in yardage. Miami led the nation in tackles for loss in 2010.
Concerns abound in the secondary after the departure of three key contributors from last year’s pass defense that ranked No. 3 nationally in allowing just 150.5 yards a game. The group better get up to speed quickly with a challenging opener against Maryland and quarterback Danny O’Brien.
The graduation of Matt Bosher has left both kicking duties open heading into camp and it’s anyone’s guess who comes away with each starting spot. Junior Jake Wieclaw could very well assume both duties when the team travels to College Park, Maryland.
It will come as a surprise to many that didn’t watch Miami’s special teams last year that the school actually finished in the bottom half of the conference in kickoff returns and dead last in punt returns.
Plenty of skill players are available and many around campus are excited about seeing incoming freshman Kevin Grooms in the return game.
Against the Spread
Despite not achieving great success over the last few years, the public still sees the Miami (FL) football program as a powerhouse. It’s certainly not one to back at the betting windows with a combined 19-28-1 ATS mark over the last four years.
Watch the college football lines closely heading into a November 12 showdown in Tallahassee, as the Hurricanes could be a dangerous underdog. Miami is also 5-1 ATS in the series when playing on the road.
Few teams have enjoyed success against Virginia Tech since its move into the conference and Miami is one of those teams that has fallen flat. Bettors have lost money in backing the Hurricanes in each of the last five series meetings.