Miami (FL) Hurricanes
2011 Record: 6-6 overall, 3-5 ACC Coastal
Head Coach: Al Golden
Odds to win ACC Coastal and ACC: 5/1 Coastal, 8/1 ACC
Odds to win 2013 BCS Championship: 125/1
Over/Under Regular Season Wins: under 7 -175 / over +145
All odds courtesy of Bovada
Al Golden became the coach of the Miami Hurricanes after he had turned around the awful Temple program. However, shortly after he took the job, former Hurricane booster Nevin Shapiro detailed all the extra benefits he gave to Hurricane players dating all the way back to the program’s glory days in the 80’s and 90’s. Several players were suspended for multiple games and it was a tough start to the Golden era. The Hurricanes did finish 6-6 and would have been bowl eligible but the university decided to self-impose a bowl ban for last season in order to hopefully stave off NCAA sanctions. It won’t work, as the hammer is about to dropped sometime this season.
The Hurricanes had a tough schedule but all of their losses were by 8 points or less. The Hurricanes were 2-6 in one possession games last season, and had quality wins over Ohio St, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and South Florida. However, Miami also lost to teams like Maryland and Boston College that they were favored to beat. The Hurricanes also had narrow losses to Bowl teams, Kansas St, Virginia, Florida St, and Virginia Tech.
So how will Miami do this year? It is difficult to tell. Golden had a good recruiting class, but the Hurricanes also have some questions like depth in certain areas and a challenging schedule. Also, if the NCAA punishes the program severely, that could be disheartening in the middle of the season.
Golden and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch use a pro style offense. The offense was average at best ranking 62nd in passing and 71st in rushing. The Hurricanes averaged 26.5 points a game last year.
They do have to replace quarterback Jacory Harris, who missed Maryland game due to a suspension. He also battled nagging injuries all season. Harris completed 65% of his passes for 2,486 yards, 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The battle to replace him will come down to last year’s back-up Stephen Morris and Memphis transfer Ryan Williams. Morris had the leg up until he missed spring practice after back surgery. Morris threw for 283 yards with 2 interceptions, last year mainly in the Maryland game he started. Morris has more accuracy and athleticism than Williams, but Williams is a better fit for the pro style offense. Williams started 10 games as a freshmen at Memphis in 2010. The battle won’t be decided until late in fall camp.
The running game will miss Lamar Miller who had 227 carries, 1,272 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He also caught 17 passes and a touchdown. Mike James will be the primary ball carrier this year. He had 72 carries, 275 yards, and 7 touchdown runs, and even caught a touchdown pass. Eduardo Clements will also get some carries. He had 15 carries, 82 yards, and a touchdown last year, and also caught 14 passes for 163 yards. Five star freshman Randy “Duke” Johnson will also get some carries. He was one of the most recruited running backs in the country.
The Hurricanes must replace their top two receivers in Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin. The duo combined for 87 catches, over 1,400 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Junior Allan Hurns had 31 catches, 415 yards, and 4 touchdowns last year and will be the number one receiver this year. Rashawn Scott had an impressive spring, after catching only one pass last season. Phillip Dorsett, and Kendal Thompkins will also get some targets this year. Strangely, Dorsett threw as many touchdowns (1) as he caught. Four star freshmen Robert Lockhart, Jr and Malcolm Lewis will also get some targets. Tight ends Clive Walford and Asante Cleveland are expected to get more targets this season as will the running backs. Fisch said he expects production to double from the tight ends this year.
The offensive line must replace 4 starters with a combined 98 games experience. Seantrel Henderson will be the left tackle. He struggled by his 2010 standards last year after off-season back surgery. Right guard Brandon Linder and tackle turned left guard Jon Feliciano also return. Expect a slight regression on the line, but it should still be capable.
Last season, under defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, the Miami defense was ranked 87th out of 120 teams, a year after the Hurricanes had a top 10 defense. However, D’Onofrio, who came to Miami with Golden from Temple, had to adjust to suspensions and injuries to key players. That explains a lot of the collapse but Hurricane fans don’t want to here excuses, and just want results.
The line must replace ends Andrew Smith and Olivier Vernon, along with tackles Micanor Regis and Adewale Ojomo. Sophomore end Anthony Chickillo had five sacks last year and will be the star of the pass rush. Junior Shayon Green should start at the other end, but he was unimpressive last year. Freshmen Jelani Hamilton and Tyriq McCord could also see time at end. Darius Smith and Curtis Porter will start at tackle.
The linebackers must replace Sean Spence, Marcus Robinson, and Jordan Futch. Sophomore middle linebacker Denzel Perryman could have a breakout season. Ramon Buchanan returns after missing all of last season with a knee injury. He had 8 tackles for loss in 2010. Junior James Gaines and freshman Raphael Kirby also headline a unit that is talented but has some depth concerns.
The secondary took a hit last month when junior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong was dismissed from the team. Vaughn Telemarque, A.J. Highsmith, and Kacy Rodgers should compete for the safety spots. Brandon McGee and Ladarius Gunter are talented corners. Freshmen Tracy Howard and Deon Bush will also crack the rotation in a thin unit.
Kicker Jake Wieclaw returns after making 11 of 14 field goals and averaging 65 yards per kickoff. He was a Lou Groza award semifinalist last year, given to the nation’s best kicker.
Punter Dalton Botts averaged 42.7 yards per punt, and had only 3 touchbacks in 48 punts.
Phillip Dorsett will return both kicks and punts, and with his blazing speed, he should be a great replacement for Travis Benjamin.
Miami does need to improve their punt coverage as they were ranked 96th out of 120 teams.
Miami has a very difficult schedule with 8 teams that went to bowl games last year, including a stretch of 7 straight in the middle of the season. Miami opens at Boston College and then plays at Kansas St. The home opener is against Bethune -Cookman, but then the Hurricanes travel to Georgia Tech. Then the Hurricanes host North Carolina St before a game in Chicago against Notre Dame. Miami has a three game home stand next against North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Florida St. The Hurricanes close out the season at Virginia, home against South Florida, and at Duke.
This team has questions at almost every position, but also has a lot of young and unproven talent. An excellent recruiting class might be pressed into duty earlier than they thought in order to plug some holes. Miami is picked by many to be the fourth best team in the ACC, but I think they are a distant 4th to Florida St, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. It speaks to the parity of the rest of the league that Miami is predicted to finish as high as they are. With this schedule, I just can’t see more than 7 wins, and even that might be a stretch with all the inexperience and the threat of NCAA sanctions hanging over their heads.
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