CFN Preview 2013 - Miami Hurricanes
Miami RB Duke Johnson
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Miami Hurricanes
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By Richard Cirminiello
Are we there yet?
Head coach: Al Golden
Third year: 13-11
Off. 27, Def. 31, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Miami Players
1. QB Stephen Morris, Sr.
2. RB Duke Johnson, Soph.
3. LB Denzel Perryman, Jr.
3. OG Brandon Linder, Sr.
5. DE Anthony Chickillo, Jr.
6. WR Phillip Dorsett, Jr.
7. OT Seantrel Henderson, Sr.
8. OT Ereck Flowers, Soph.
9. DE Shayon Green, DE
10. OG Jon Feliciano, Jr.
8/30 Florida Atlantic
9/14 OPEN DATE
9/21 Savannah State
9/28 at South Florida
10/5 Georgia Tech
10/12 OPEN DATE
10/17 at North Carolina
10/26 Wake Forest
11/2 at Florida State
11/9 Virginia Tech
11/16 at Duke
11/29 at Pitt
Like a young child on a long car ride, Miami and its fans have grown weary of waiting to reach their destination. The Hurricanes have been in NCAA limbo for close to two years, the victim of poor judgment by past athletes, and a botched investigation by the sport's governing body. The mess has levied a heavy toll, both on the field and off.
The program has self-imposed a bowl ban, including the 2012 ACC Championship Game, in consecutive years, while reducing its number of scholarships. Has it been enough of an internal punishment? Almost two years later, the issue remains very much unsettled and up for debate.
Miami is also pining for a return to the glory days, when league championships were the annual baseline of where the bar was set. The Canes haven't won a title of any kind in a decade. Their last January postseason game was the 2004 Orange Bowl. Expectations around South Florida certainly aren't what they used to be.
Al Golden is set to begin his third season as the head coach. He unknowingly walked into a landmine two years ago, from the NCAA mess to a roster that was a few key players away from building some distance from mediocrity. His first team straddled the .500 mark. Last year's edition improved to 7-5 and captured a weak Coastal Division, but also suffered black eyes at the hands of Kansas State, Notre Dame and Virginia. Year 3? It remains to be seen.
Miami will begin 2013 decidedly more talented on offense than defense. New coordinator James Coley's attack shows no glaring weaknesses, from QB Stephen Morris and the Duke Johnson-led skill players to a line welcoming back all of last season's starters. The D? Now that's where the Hurricanes are going to struggle … again.
The Miami defense was bad in 2012; like Duke bad. Coordinator Mark D'Onofrio survived, but he won't be so fortunate if his kids even remotely resemble last year's unit. The problem for D'Onofrio is that he doesn't have access to the caliber of talent that they harbor at, say, Florida State. The Canes might be improved, because they really can't be any worse, but this team is constructed to win with offense in 2013.
The encouraging news is that Golden has been gradually changing the culture at Miami, while improving the talent level with each recruiting class. The concern, of course, is that no one knows for sure if the dark clouds forming a canopy above Coral Gables have lifted. The Hurricanes are moving in the right direction, though, even if it seems sometimes as if the finish line in the windshield doesn't get any smaller.
What to watch for on offense: The ferocity of the competition at wide receiver and tight end. The Hurricanes have a lot of talent in the receiver corps, yet no single player who's been guaranteed of a starting gig. Allen Hurns is battling Rashawn Scott. Herb Waters, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Lewis are duking it out. And tight ends Asante Cleveland and Clive Walford are virtually interchangeable. The good news is that there's a lot of potential and speed with which QB Stephen Morris can connect, and the competitive environment ought to make everyone a little better.
What to watch for on defense: The results of the races in the back seven. Miami needs to get much better on defense after flopping in 2012. A lot of positions had yet to be decided by the end of spring, including middle linebacker, safety and both corner spots. The Hurricanes must figure out the rotation as quickly as possible so that each player knows his role in the fall. LB Denzel Perryman and S Deon Bush are the exceptions in a back seven that's going to ebb and flow with changes throughout the month of August.
The team will be far better if… the defense takes a quantum leap against the run. Miami ranked 112th nationally in 2012, while allowing an unimaginable five yards per carry. The results? Worn out defenses and a time of possession that was greatly out of whack. The Canes cannot be that same team in 2013. They've got to stand up to opposing ground games, make key stops on third-and-short and get the ball back in the hands of the high-powered offense as quickly as possible.
The Schedule: The schedule is full of rivalry landmines to deal with starting with Florida Atlantic locally and followed up with Florida. Going to South Florida will be a fight, and the annual battle against Florida State is on the road. The Canes get an enormous break with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech coming to Miami Gardens, and there's another big plus missing Clemson from the Atlantic, getting Wake Forest to go along with the showdown with the Seminoles. There aren't two road games in a row and four of the first five games are at home, but the finishing kick is interesting, and relatively easy, with Duke and Pitt on the road wrapped around Virginia.
Best offensive player: Senior QB Stephen Morris. At this time last year, Morris was battling Ryan Williams for the starting nod, with no guarantees of winning. Today, he's a returning All-ACC passer who has quickly attracted the attention of NFL scouts. The 6-2, 214-pounder will take a head of steam into 2013, finishing as strong as any other league hurler last November. Morris ended up going 245-of-421 for 3,345 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions, smashing Bernie Kosar's school record for total offense in a season. He's unflappable, fundamentally-sound and equipped with the arm needed to make all the throws.
Best defensive player: Junior LB Denzel Perryman. The junior doesn't make a ton of headlines. He'd prefer to just make plays. Perryman would have led the Hurricanes in tackles last season had it not been for an ankle injury that cost him three games. Still, he finished second on the team with 64 stops from the weakside, roaming the field with a sense of purpose. The 6-0, 236-pounder is smart, instinctive and sure-tackling in open space, the most complete defender that Miami will put on the field this season.
Key players to a successful season: The entire D-line. If the Hurricanes have a prayer of improving on defense in 2013, the front wall has to carry more of the weight. The line got routinely schooled at the point of attack last fall, failing to get after the passer or create traffic jams on running plays. The back seven just isn't good enough to survive without more help. The Miami needs Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green to create more pressure, and DT Curtis Porter to finally remain healthy for an entire year.
The season will be a success if ... the Canes win eight regular season games for the first time since 2009, and just the second time since 2005. For all of the obvious and not so obvious reasons, Miami has to move beyond the six and seven-win campaigns that have become the norm. There's no game on the schedule that's off limits, and non-conference meetings with Florida Atlantic, Savannah State and South Florida ought to ensure a fast start. Third year with the same staff. Veteran quarterback. The Hurricanes need to aim a little higher in 2013, with 8-4 being a reasonable goal.
Key game: Nov. 2 at Florida State. More than just the biggest rival on the schedule, a trip to Tallahassee serves as a measuring stick of where the Hurricanes are in the ACC pecking order. Miami has taken a submissive position in the series of late, losing the last three and six of the last eight. But the Canes have the edge at quarterback, with Stephen Morris, and new offensive coordinator James Coley knows a little something about Florida State after coaching under Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher since 2008.
2012 Fun Stats:
- First downs: Miami 243 – Opponents 314
- Time of possession: Miami 26:06 – Opponents 33:54
- Touchdown passes: Miami 23 - Opponents 15
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