Miami Hurricanes' Midseason report card earns an solid A-.
Well the season is half over and I will be grading the Miami Hurricanes and how they have fared thus far. This is based solely on the games that have already played and I am not ranking on how I think they will do.
Miami has surprised a lot of teams so far this year. The emergence of Jacory Harris and the incredible depth at wide receiver has opened many eyes across the country.
Mark Whipple has opened up the playbook beyond expectations. Miami's 3-1 start against four ranked teams made everyone a believer that the U is back.
Now the only question is how they will end up and who needs to improve.
On to the mid season report card.
Before the year began one of the biggest question marks was how Miami would do with a full time starting quarterback. Would he be able to withstand all the pressure, especially in the first four games.
A 3-1 start against four ranked opponents answered that question quickly.
We haven't seen this much poise and talent since Ken Dorsey in 2002. The way Jacory handles himself so far in the season is truly remarkable.
Jacory has a great touch on the ball, is very poised in the pocket, and can throw the deep ball which makes him, in my eyes, a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Harris, so far on the year has 105 completions on a 162 attempts for 1,518 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His 157.3 quarterback rating is 9th in the nation and considering the talent he has played against, makes him one of the best in the nation.
A.J. Highsmith has seen little action, but is perfect on the year going 3-3 for 38 yards.
This position is one of the most surprising yet.
QB Grade: A
This was to be Miami's strongest position and so far this year they haven't really lived up to the expectations. This has to do largely with the competition they have faced.
While Graig Cooper was Miami's main guy the last two years, due to injury and offensive schemes, Javarris James has been the focal point in the back field.
James has delivered, rushing 72 times for 362 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Miami's second leading rusher has come to be a surprise as senior Damien Barry has rushed 28 times for 222 yards, including a 14 carry, 162 yards against Florida A&M.
Overall its what you expect from a Miami Hurricanes team. Long gone are the big rushers Miami once had.
Miami is a more balanced team and there really has been no need to rush it down any throats yet, with Jacory and the fast strike offense taking control.
RB grade: B
Wide Receivers the last five plus years have been scarce in south Florida. Miami hasn't really had a dynamic wide receiver since Andre Johnson in 2002/2003.
That has all changed. The depth at wide out and the amount of talent that is on this team seems endless. In fact, I believe this is the best wide receiving team in the nation.
It starts with the old man, junior, Leornard Hankerson.
What a difference a year makes.
Last year Hankerson couldn't catch a cold. After a summer hanging with Dolphin great Mark Duper, he rarely drops a pass. He is Miami's leader at wide receiver with 15 catches and 295 yards, while hitting the end zone twice.
Next is speedster Travis Benjamin., who has 15 catches for 280 yards. LaRon Byrd follows Benjamin with the most catches at 18, for 258 yards.
Not to mention two future stars in Tommy Streeter and Aldarius Johnson, Miami has a depth chart of wide outs coaches drool over.
The list continues as Jacory has thrown to 8 different wide outs alone.
So in my opinion, this is the brightest spot for these young Canes.
WR grade: A+
In past years this position has always been solid for Miami and this year is no different.
The Canes have two great tight ends.
First lets start off with one of my favorite players on the team, Dedrick Epps. I remember seeing him two years ago as a freshman and could see he was going to be something special. He has not disappointed.
Epps has 11 receptions for 139 yards and 2 TD's.
Next is basketball player turned football player, Jimmy Graham.
We really didn't know how good he would turn out, coming into football late is a hard thing to do.
At 6'8" tall and good speed, Graham has surprised the entire nation at his skill set at tight end. Granted he only has five catches, but three of them are for touchdowns, which leads the team.
TE grade: B+
This one was one of Miami's question marks. With a relatively new quarterback, who was going to protect Jacory Harris?
To be honest, I believe they are doing a pretty decent job.
Jacory has been sacked 12 times this year in six games and the holes tend to be more open for James and the rest of the running backs each week.
Jason Fox is the obvious leader of the big ugly's, while Orlando Franklin has been doing a great job as well.
The only problem I have seen is they tend not to hold their blocks long enough and they have trouble picking up on blitzes. That will come in time.
This one is tough to grade.
Not because of how they are playing, but because of who is playing. I got to watch every Hurricane game this year and I still don't know who is hurt and who isn't.
Miami has rotated more players this year, than they have the entire year last year. It is a good thing they have depth.
Miami's defensive line though is only getting better. They are arguably the fastest defensive line in the ACC.
Joe Joseph has really turned it up for the Hurricanes and is playing lights out while leading the line in tackles at 20, with five for loss.
Allen Bailey is the true leader of the defense. After missing the first game, Bailey has come back to tie for the team lead in sacks with Marcus Robinson, at three.
D-Line grade: B
This is the rock of the Miami defense and it all begins with the leader, Colin McCarthy.
The junior just has a knack for the football that is unparalleled and his knowledge of the position is the best on the team.
McCarthy currently leads the Canes in tackles with 38 and also registered another 4 tackles for loss. After a season ending injury on Sept. 27th against UNC last year, Miami lost their leader and it showed the rest of the year.
Well he is back this year and since he has came back, the linebacker corp has been on lock down.
McCarthy's sidekick is sophomore standout Sean Spence. Spence is the type of guy that reminds me of a Ray Lewis.
His size and style of play is almost identical, standing at around 6 foot, but has the hitting ability to make you take notice on where he is at all times.
Spence is currently third on the team in tackles at 34, but leads the team in tackles for loss at 5-1/2. Spence also has recorded two interceptions.
The only issue I have watching this Cane linebacking group is that they tend to miss on their tackles, but it is getting better.
LB grade: B+
This group is by far, Miami's weakest link. They are just so inexperienced that they tend to make too many mistakes and it seems as though they make them at the most crucial times.
They have potential, do not get me wrong. This year though, they need to keep growing to become better play makers.
This Miami backfield only has two interceptions and a large number of pass interferences.
The once wide receiver Sam Shields tends to be picked on every game and it works, having only two pass break ups and two pass deflections.
But it isn't all bad for the defensive backs. Brandon Harris is leading the country with 10 pass break ups and 11 pass deflections.
The thing about these young corner backs and safeties is just that, they are young and will improve.
Defensive Backfield grade: C
When the season first began the special teams of the Miami Hurricanes was horrific. At one time they were giving up 38 yards per kickoff return.
While they are getting better as the season goes along, there is still room for improvement.
Matt Bosher is the bright spot of this squad as I believe he is one of the best field goal kickers in the country, besides the two missed field goals he had against Georgia Tech, Bosher hasn't missed.
The return team is also doing a good job. Graig Cooper is the main man on kickoff returns averaging 28.6 yards per return.
Travis Benjamin takes the punts back and is always dangerous whenever he touches the ball
Special Teams grade: B
I can talk about how great of a coach Randy Shannon is, but this isn't going to be about Randy. This section is going to be used for the man that made this year happen.
That man is Mark Whipple. He has become almost more important to this team than anyone has in the last five years.
His aggressive play calling along with taking chances at the long ball has Miami as a threat every time they touch the ball.
Although this is not the 2001 team that strikes under two minutes, this is a team that can score and has the players and coaches that are willing to throw it out there and take chances.
So far it has worked. Miami has had more 30+ yard touchdowns that it has in the last year and a half. No more is the timid play calling that we have grown custom to.
Coaching grade: A
In a year in which no one really knew what Miami was going to have, they did.
These young Canes have brought back the swagger they haven't seen since the 2002 season.
The first half of the season has brought way more highlights, than the one major low light (against Virginia Tech).
If the Hurricanes play as good this second half, as they did the first. There should be no reason why they will not make the ACC Championship and a "shot" at the BCS title game.
Overall grade: A-