Miami Hurricanes in Golden Era: Stepping Up Next Season

Anthony JoffreContributor IMarch 19, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 25:  Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden looks on during a game against the Boston College Eagles at Sun Life Stadium on November 25, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami has a ton at their disposal, yet they finished last season with a less than impressive 6-6 record. Some of you may ask why this is, many of you hold your own opinions as to why (as do I), but all of that is behind us.

There is a good deal to be excited about for the upcoming season, but there is one key to the success of next season—Al Golden.

He has only been here for one season. He finished 6-6, faced an immense scandal, didn’t go to a bowl—and despite all of that he brought in a top 10 recruiting class.

Before we look to the nuances of what Golden has accomplished on the field, let’s take a moment and breathe in what he has done off the field. While other coaches have had better classes in the history of the program, nobody has recruited like Golden in the last 10 years.

Some of you may look to Randy Shannon and say “Well, he brought in a No. 1 recruiting class in 2008,” and to you people I say take your blinders off. Firstly, Shannon is from here and coached here which gave him a ton of contacts in the area, many of whom he considered close friends. Secondly, he only recruited at schools where he had an “in.

Randy was not a pioneer going out and finding the best talent and trying to bring the best players to the U, he simply picked them out of his backyard after they were groomed to come here by coaches who favored the university and Randy. While I agree maintaining the “state of Miami” is important, looking over a kid because they didn’t go to a school with a UM-friendly coach is absolutely unacceptable, yet it seems to be the way we’ve done business for almost a decade.

The most impressive thing about Golden’s recruiting is that he pushed out and continued to show interest to kids who normally would not have considered coming to UM (and picking up the backyard talent like Duke Johnson).

Now to what he has accomplished on the field and what it means for the upcoming season. Golden and his staff implemented a new offense and defense. While they only won six games, they averaged more points than their opponents, they lost all of their games by less than eight points, and they were 18th in the country in points allowed.

While the defense showed some intense learning curves at times, it certainly shined more than it crashed and burned. You can only expect more of that this upcoming season. The players are more familiar with the system, new stud prospects are being introduced to the mix, and young guns like Perryman and Chickillo who stepped up last year are now a year more experienced and undoubtedly better.

In addition, it seems the defensive weakness at cornerback has been addressed through recruiting, but we won’t know for sure until the prospects hit the field.

On the offensive side of the ball the prospects for this season look even better. While some may say we lost a quarterback, I maintain that Harris’ departure will be a positive thing. While he may hold some of the school's records, and is a humble hard worker, Harris simply did not have the intangible “it” factor needed to be a winner.

That, coupled with poor quarterback coaching led to a steady decrease in Harris’ performance over his career. The one-time Heisman hopeful turned into the LeBron James of Hurricane football, unable to come up with big plays when we needed them and constantly turning the ball over in crucial situations. With three incoming freshman who show tremendous promise, this will be a chance to start fresh at the quarterback position. Hopefully a star will emerge, but I’ll settle for a smart passer with a good arm.

Another area where Miami lost a talent is at running back. Now I know I might take some flak for this, but Lamar Miller just wasn’t that great. Yes, in the open field there is nobody better—Miller had a second gear that was unmatched in nearly all of college football. However, he constantly suffered shoulder problems, he ran soft, and he went down way too easily for a back that weighed close to 220 pounds.

While Mike James has certainly not shown any indication that he can fill Miller’s shoes, I believe Duke Johnson can best Lamar. While he still may have some bulk to add, Johnson is lightning fast, great at avoiding and breaking tackles, and has one of the best stiff arms I’ve ever seen.

At wide receiver the U lost Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter—however, Allen Hurns emerged onto the scene last year and both Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott have the potential to do the same.

There is no shortage of emerging talent on this University of Miami squad. They have a tough beginning to their season, spending most of it on the road, but if they can fight through that and come out with a positive record and outlook they will definitely be doing big things. Mark my words, with another year of Golden’s tutelage this team will cement itself as a contender for years to come.