2011 ACC Blogger Football Preview: Coastal No. 3…Miami

Posted by Brandon Rink on July 6, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Part one of our Miami preview….

Miami's Aldarius Johnson is one of a couple 'Canes receivers that need to step up this season for whoever wins the QB job. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

2010 Record: 7-6 (5-3 ACC)
2011 Projected Record: 8-4 (4-4 ACC)
Returning Starters: 14 (7 on offense, 7 on defense).
Schedule Difficulty in ACC: Third.
Offense Rides On… Competent QB play – Jacory Harris seems to complete as many passes to ‘Canes as he does to the other team, but maybe as a senior, new coach Al Golden will right the Harris ship. If not, there’s always sophomore Stephen Morris who matched him step-for-step in spring practice. Either way, Miami has the weapons around the QB – just need a leader who minimizes mistakes to actually do something with them.
Defensive Deficiency: Secondary – Miami finished third in the country in pass defense last season, but lose two starters off that unit. I wouldn’t expect a tremendous drop-off though.
Keyword: Swagger – C’mon, I’m contractually obligated to have that somewhere in a Miami preview.

Schedule Analysis + W/Ls

9/05 @ Maryland (Labor Day) L 24-17
9/10 BYE
9/17 Ohio St. W 28-21
9/24 Kansas St. W 24-21
10/01 Bethune-Cookman W 38-10
10/08 @ Virginia Tech L 31-10
10/15 @ UNC L 20-14
10/22 Georgia Tech W 24-17
10/27 Virginia (Thursday) W 31-16
11/5 Duke W 24-21
11/12 @ FSU L 27-21
11/19 @ USF W 28-24
11/25 Boston College (Friday) W 28-23

Bye Week: Before Ohio State, September 17.
Toughest Game: At FSU, November 12.
Must-Win Conference Game:  At Virginia Tech, October 8.

Stats and records…

Coach: Al Golden (27-34 career record, first year as head coach at Miami).

Offense (2010 ranks): Pro-style (Total offense: 31st/Rush offense: 30th/Pass offense: 43rd)

Defense (2010 ranks): 4-3 (Total defense: 22nd/Rush defense: 84th/Pass defense: 3rd).

2010 Special Team Ranks: Net punting – 16th/Kickoff returns – 102nd/Punt returns – 105th/Punt return yardage defense – 52nd/Kick return yardage defense – 69th.

2010 Misc. stats: Turnover margin – 104th/Fewest penalties – 117th/First downs – 26th/First downs allowed – 10th/Third down efficiency – 53rd/Red zone efficiency – 104th/Red zone defense – 7th/Time of possession – 102nd.

Outgoing starters: 11.

2011 Starters (2010 stats)

Returning Offense (6)

QB: Jacory Harris (Senior, 1,793 passing yards/60% cmp/14 TD-15 INT)/Stephen Morris (Sophomore, 1,240 passing yards/54% cmp/7 TD-9 INT).
WR: Travis Benjamin (Senior, 743 rec. yards/4 TD [3 rec./1 punt]); LaRon Byrd (Senior, 441 rec. yards/1 TD).
O-line: C Tyler Horn (Senior, 6-4 305/13 starts); RG Brandon Washington (Junior, 6-4 320/15 starts); LG Harland Gunn (Senior, 6-2 310/18 starts).

New Projected Starters (5)

RB: Lamar Miller (Sophomore, 646 rushing yards/6 TD/214 kickoff return yards with a TD).
WR: Kendal Thompkins (Junior, 5 rec. yards)/Allen Hurns (Sophomore)/Aldarius Johnson (Senior, 157 rec. yards)/Tommy Streeter (Junior, 42 rec. yards/1 TD).
TE: Blake Ayles (Senior).
O-line: RT Jermaine Johnson (Sophomore, 6-6 320/1 start)/Ben Jones (Junior, 6-5 310/1 start); LT Malcolm Bunche (Redshirt freshman, 6-7 320).

Outlook: Doesn’t it feel like Jacory Harris has been at Miami…for-ev-er? It is indeed his senior season, but the turnover-prone Harris doesn’t hold the QB job for sure with sophomore Stephen Morris step-for-step in competition.

Good thing for whoever wins the job is they’ll have sophomore Lamar Miller to hand off to. Miller showed glimpses of brilliance last season and went off this spring to become a serious All-ACC running back contender come this fall. Even with the graduation of Damien Berry and transfer of Storm Johnson, RB is still a deep and talented spot for the ‘Canes.

At receiver, Leonard Hankerson will certainly be missed – especially the 13 touchdowns, which was 10 more than the nearest ‘Canes WR last season. That said, the next four highest in receiving yards are back, including three seniors.

The interior offensive line corps is all returning for Miami and some talented underclassmen should fill the tackle spots for Golden.

Returning Defense (7)

D-line: DT Micanor Regis (Senior, 3 sacks/8 TFL/42 tackles); DT Marcus Forston (Junior, 3 sacks/12 TFL/37 tackles); DE Olivier Vernon (Junior, 6 sacks/10.5 TFL/39 tackles).
LB: WLB Sean Spence (Senior, 110 tackles/16 TFL/2.5 sacks); SLB Ramon Buchanan (Senior, 55 tackles/8 TFL).
DB: CB JoJo Nicolas (Senior, 36 tackles/2 TFL); FS Vaughn Telemaque (Junior, 58 tackles/3 INT).

New Projected Starters (4)

D-line: DE Adewale Ojomo (Junior, 5 sacks/7.5 TFL/38 tackles)/DE Marcus Robinson (Senior, 1.5 sacks/4 TFL/18 tackles).
LB: MLB Jordan Futch (Senior, 9 tackles)/James Gaines (Sophomore, 1 tackle).
DB: CB Lee Chambers (Senior, 2 tackles); SS Ray-Ray Armstrong (Junior, 79 tackles/3 INT/4.5 TFL).

Outlook: When you think Miami, it’s all about the ‘Canes defensive stars that have move on to great NFL careers. This edition of the Hurricanes has its stars, but features its fair share of unheralded players too.

Sean Spence is a tackling machine at linebacker with Ramon Buchanan on the other side to complete the returning LB corps.

The d-line brings back 3/4s of the starters with both tackles and returning sack leader Olivier Vernon at defensive end.

The secondary is all-upperclassmen with three of the four with experience and projected starter Lee Chambers as a converted running back.

New Projected Kicker/Punter (2)

PK: Jake Wieclaw (Junior)/Matt Goudis (Freshman).
P: Jake Wieclaw/Dalton Botts (Junior).

Outlook: We really don’t know much about the Miami kicking situation with two heralded incoming kickers expected to compete right away. No matter what, it’ll be a transition season after having Matt Bosher for the last four years.

Notable Backups (2010 stats)

RB: Mike James (Junior, 398 rushing yards/4 TD [3 rush/1 rec.]).
O-line: Seantrel Henderson (Sophomore, 6-8 345/9 starts).

Position by Position Grades

QB: B-
Gotta Step-Up: Jacory Harris/Stephen Morris

RB: B+
MVP: Lamar Miller
Gotta Step-Up: Mike James

MVP: LaRon Byrd
Gotta Step-Up: Travis Benjamin

OL: C+
MVP: RG Brandon Washington
Gotta Step-Up: OT Seantrel Henderson

DL: B+
MVP: DE Olivier Vernon
Gotta Step-Up: DT Marcus Forston

MVP: WLB Sean Spence
Gotta Step-Up: MLB Jordan Futch

Sec: B+
MVP: FS Vaughn Telemaque
Gotta Step-Up: Lee Chambers

K/P: C+
Gotta Step-Up: TBD

The Why…

Why Third?: 1) Four tough conference road trips – Miami will be lucky to grab a win out of trips to Virginia Tech, UNC and FSU. The ‘Canes have played well at Tallahassee recently with close wins in 2007 and 2009. They were close losses at UNC in that time span, and blowout defeats at Virginia Tech. Add to that, the road Labor Day opener at Maryland, which won’t be easy when you add in the expected suspensions for various offseason issues.

2) A manageable home schedule – Georgia Tech, Virginia, Duke and BC come to Miami this season. If they can hold court at home, Miami should find themselves in the middle of the pack.

3) Too much offensive (and defensive) talent to fall back, but too many Q’s at QB to compete – I’d tend to think Miami will finish lower than higher than third, but I’m picking them here mostly on potential. There will be your typical transition issues with new coaches across the board, but much like Clemson, they’ll do enough to have a decent season with the talent.

Could be higher if…: Whoever wins the QB job is able to pull out some big conference road wins.

Could be lower if…: Miami drops a couple of home games to a 3-5 or 2-6 ACC season.

Your Turn (pick their place and add your why in the comments)…

2011 ACC Preview: Where does Miami finish?

  • 1st (52%, 15 Votes)
  • 2nd (17%, 5 Votes)
  • 3rd (14%, 4 Votes)
  • 4th (7%, 2 Votes)
  • 5th (7%, 2 Votes)
  • 6th (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 29

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