A weekly look at the Miami Hurricanes football team
Leaders: Yards: Harris 1518
Completions: Harris 105
Attempts: Harris 162
TD: Harris 11
Int: Harris 7
Translation: Jacory Harris has performed at a high level throughout the season. His completion percentage is above average and he has done a nice job getting everyone involved. However, his interception rate cannot continue at its current pace of more than one per game.
2. Running Back
Leaders: Yards Attempts TD
James 362 James 72 James 4
Berry 222 Cooper 43 Berry 2
Cooper 200 Berry 28 4 tied 1
Translation: The running back corps has been solid throughout the season. Craig Cooper’s injury allowed other runners to gain valuable game experience, adding depth to compliment the already strong duo of Javarris James and Cooper. Damien Berry, Mike James, or Lee Chambers can be that explosive third running back every team would like to have.
3. Wide Receiver
Leaders: Yards Catches TD
Hankerson 293 Byrd 18 Graham 3
Benjamin 280 Benjamin 15 Benjamin 2
Byrd 258 Hankerson 15 Hankerson 2
Epps 139 Epps 10 Epps 2
Translation: The deepest and most talented group in the country continues to gain experience. Although the injury to Aldarius Johnson is a concern, the balance among this corps continues to be its strength. Tight end Jimmy Graham has performed admirably after dropping two crucial passes against Virginia Tech, leading the team in touchdown receptions.
4. Offensive Line
Leaders: LT Jason Fox 6-7 314 lbs.
G/C A. J. Trump 6-3 300 lbs
G/T Orlando Franklin 6-7 318 lbs.
The Canes owe their early success to this unheralded group. Whether they are protecting Jacory Harris during play-action passes on first down or opening holes for 50-yard Javarris James runs, the offensive line, led by left tackle Jason Fox, has been steady all season. The sacks against Harris are a concern, but limiting the pressure on the quarterback requires a team effort as well.
OFFENSE: Per Game NCAA Rank
Total Offense: 385.7 56
Pass Offense: 259.3 28
Rush Offense: 126.3 86
Scoring Offense: 29.0 49
Translation: The offense has looked both unstoppable and stagnant this season—mainly unstoppable. It remains to be seen what Jacory Harris will do when defenses continue to take the deep ball away, forcing him to check down to shorter routes, and the running game must continue to improve. However, the tough games against Virginia Tech and Oklahoma (two of the best defenses in the country) should provide a base for the young Canes to build upon. This weekend’s match-up versus Clemson will be a similar test.
5. Defensive Line
Leaders: Tackles Sacks Tackles for loss
Joseph 20 Bailey 3 Joseph 5
Bailey 13 Robinson 3 Robinson 4.5
Vernon 13 Moncur 1 Vernon 4.5
Regis 13 Wesley 1 Wesley 4
Translation: The defensive line has been affected the most by injuries. Tackle Marcus Forston is likely out for the year. End Eric Moncur has not played consistent minutes since his strong performance against Georgia Tech. Allen Bailey, recruited as a linebacker out of high school, has been the most versatile lineman, filling in at both tackle and end throughout the season. Look for Micanor Regis to benefit the most from Forston’s injury. True Freshman Olivier Vernon’s return from injury should provide needed depth at the end spot.
Leaders: Tackles Sacks Tackles for loss Int
McCarthy 38 Spence 2 Spence 4.5 McCarthy 1
Sharpton 36 McCarthy 4
Spence 34 Sharpton 2.5
Translation: There is no leader of the group. Each player has performed adequately, but missed tackles and/or missed assignments need to decrease in order for this group to control the middle of the field. The linebackers will be tested this Saturday by Clemson star C.J. Spiller. A missed tackle against him and it may be too late for the secondary to stop a long touchdown run.
Leaders: Tackles Int Tackles for loss Sacks
Harris 32 Harris 1 Telemaque 1.5 Harris 1
Shields 22 Phillips 1 Harris 1
Translation: This unit has been progressing throughout the season. After FSU scorched them to start the season and Virginia Tech capitalized on slips and falls, the defensive backs held their own against Oklahoma’s potent passing attack, Bradford or not. Brandon Harris’ one-on-one coverage has allowed more defenders to roam the back line and help linebackers on passing plays. With the season-ending injury to safety Ryan Hill, expect true freshman Ray Ray Armstrong, a superstar in the making, to see more playing time.
DEFENSE: Per Game NCAA Rank
Total Defense: 305.7 25
Pass Defense: 172.2 22
Rush Defense: 133.5 61
Scoring Defense: 20.8 T-38
Translation: The defense has been considered to be Miami’s strength for a few years. That is true, but is it because the defense has been that good, or because the offense has been so bad? While there is never a doubt about the athleticism and speed on the defensive side of the ball, there have been many mental and fundamental errors in recent years that cause concern. I do not believe anyone can really trust the defense to consistently get crucial stops in important situations. On the other hand, other than the FSU and Virginia Tech contests, the defense has played at a very satisfactory level. A shutdown performance this Saturday against Clemson and C. J. Spiller would be a step in the right direction toward regaining that trust.
Matt Bosher has been a reliable kicker, converting six of eight field goal’s and all 22 extra point attempts. His kickoffs must stop allowing the opponent to start drives with good field position.
Thearon Collier has the only punt or kickoff return for a touchdown. Collier returned a punt 61 yards for a TD against FAMU.
Randy Shannon has done a tremendous job not just this year, but since his arrival as head coach before the 2007 season. The hiring of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has proven to be the correct remedy for a previously bland attack. Defensive coordinator John Lovett has some work to do but the defense continues to be aggressive—a trait not always seen in recent years.
State of the U:
While no one in the country believed UM would be 5-1 and ranked in the top 10 in the BCS, AP, and ESPN polls after six games, the Canes still have plenty to prove. Georgia Tech’s win over Virginia Tech put UM in a three-way tie with both teams and in the best position to win the Coastal Division of the ACC.
Saturday’s contest against Clemson is the first of five straight conference games. Despite predictable wins versus Florida A&M and Central Florida, the game against the Tigers should provide a more accurate barometer for measuring UM’s championship mettle.
Expect another statement game from the Canes.