Miami Football: Coach Al Golden's Holiday Wish List
People everywhere are buying Christmas presents, using the holiday wish lists of both friends and family as their guides.
Miami football head coach Al Golden certainly has a wish list, too, but his likely does not include skateboards or Xbox controllers.
Instead, Golden is hoping for some things to go well for the Hurricanes' football program, including a postseason win and a high-profile commitment on the ever-changing recruiting scene.
And maybe, when Santa makes his list and checks it twice, he will find Golden was one of the nice ones this year and grant him a few of those wishes.
Following are some of the items to be found on Golden's wish list this Christmas.
Beat Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami is playing in the program's first bowl game since the 2010 Sun Bowl, and is looking for its first postseason win since the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl.
However, Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals will try to keep the Hurricanes from ending their bowl losing streak.
Golden is slowly guiding Miami on the return path to national relevancy. A marquee win over an 11-1 Louisville squad would provide a boost in a couple of areas. Not only would recruits see the 'Canes step up on the big stage, but a win would give those players returning next season for Miami two great victories from the 2013 season to build upon.
Yes, beating Florida now seems rather unimpressive, but a case can be made for Jeff Driskel's injury in that game as having changed the course of the Gators' season.
Regardless, knocking off No. 18 Louisville would be an important win for the rebuilding Hurricanes.
Flip 5-Star Running Back Dalvin Cook from Florida
Following a certain player's recruitment can sometimes divulge nothing but utter confusion.
Dalvin Cook, a 5-star running back from Miami Central High School, is a prospect who has taken college football fans on a wild ride, and it's still only December.
Although both Florida State and Miami are in constant contact with Cook, he has remained adamant that he is still committed to Florida. Safid Deen of The Miami Herald quoted Cook as saying "Florida is still in my heart right now."
Cook will be committing at the Under Armour All-American Game, according to 247Sports' Gator Bait staff.
Of course, nothing is official until a letter of intent is signed, especially with a sought-after recruit like Cook, but Golden will be looking for the local back to throw up 'The U' on Jan, 2.
Protect His Current Recruiting Class, Grab One Surprise
Lately, there has been some buzz in the Twitterverse surrounding potential Hurricanes choosing a school other than Miami. However, the current group of Miami's commitments is already solid, so missing out on Johnnie Dixon may sting, but it is not a dire situation.
With prospects like Brad Kaaya, Joseph Yearby, Kc McDermott, Chad Thomas, Travonte Valentine, Darrion Owens and Kiy Hester already having committed, Golden and his coaching staff have assembled a talented class.
Now, the trick is to hang onto them.
UCLA, USC, Florida State, Alabama, LSU and others are also pursuing those players, so some of them may waver in their commitments.
Overall, Miami currently has the fifth-best class on 247Sports, but if the 'Canes fall out of the top five or even the top 10, the quality of its recruits is more important.
Remember as well that Golden shocked many by snagging Al-Quadin Muhammad in 2013 and Tracy Howard in 2012, so he may have another stunner up his sleeve—all while trying to keep his current pledges committed.
Denzel Perryman Stays for His Senior Year
Outiside linebacker Denzel Perryman leads all Miami defenders with 104 tackles this season
Consequently, Perryman is being noticed by NFL scouts. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks the 240-pounder as the ninth-best outside linebacker prospect for the 2014 NFL draft.
Though Perryman still has much to improve on the field, it's his off-the-field responsibilities that may determine whether or not the junior heads to the NFL.
Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald noted how Perryman recently became a father, and there are certainly many obligations a father has to his newborn child.
The deadline to declare is Jan. 15, but if Perryman can manage it, Golden would love to have his defensive leader back for the 2014 campaign.
Build a Competitive Defense for 2014
To be blunt, the Hurricanes were chasing opponents more often than attacking them late in the season.
When a team is not the aggressor, losses typically are the result—specifically for Miami, three losses in its last five games.
They say that "games are won in the trenches," and Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post noted how the 'Canes' recruiting emphasis has been on front-seven impact players.
Most notably for Miami, defensive linemen Anthony Chickillo, Olsen Pierre and Al-Quadin Muhammad all will return next season while Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Alex Figueroa are leading candidates to earn starting linebacker roles.
Miami is finally deep in its secondary as it is likely looking at Tracy Howard, Ladarius Gunter, Deon Bush and Rayshawn Jenkins lining up in the defensive backfield.
Lots of talent returns and potential is en route to Coral Gables, Fla., but Golden needs results next season, and it's time for him to build a defense that is not below average.