The 2010 Football Season for the Miami Hurricanes is going to be an important one. The Hurricanes went 9-4 last season, but could have very easily went 11- 2 if they would have made a play here or there.
With most of the team returning, and some high-profile recruits from previous seasons set to make their debut the expectations for 2010 are high.
They Hurricanes have another tough schedule to open the season, and will not have a lot of time to figure things out.
They are expected to compete for their first ACC title this year, and if things fall well, an outside chance at a National Championship.
In order to reach all of these goals I have picked 10 Hurricanes who are going to be key to the success of the team this year. So here you have it: The 10 Most Important Hurricanes for Miami Football in 2010.
Leonard Hankerson has probably been the most inconsistent player for the Hurricanes over the last two seasons.
He has always been the receiver with a great “upside,” and after working with Mark Duper in the offseason, Hankerson appeared to be poised for a big season.
He delivered, leading the Hurricanes with 45 receptions, 801 yards, and six touchdowns. Although those stats are impressive, Hankerson had times this season where he disappeared or lost focus on potential big plays in a few games this year.
The Hurricanes have a luxury of being deep at receiver, but having a bunch of good players at one position only leads to mediocrity and inconsistency if you do not have a clear No. 1 option.
Hankerson needs to own his No. 1 spot on the depth chart, and be the leader of that Hurricane receiving corps.
If the offensive line does not improve this season, and no viable tight ends separate themselves from the pack, it will be important for Hankerson to get open quickly.
He must also ensure he catches the balls thrown to him if the Hurricanes offense is to be successful this season.
Colin McCarthy has chosen to return for this senior year, and he is going to be one of the most important parts of the defense this year.
McCarthy is one of the only slated starters at the linebacker position who has the size of a traditional linebacker, at 242 pounds McCarthy only recorded 54 tackles last season.
McCarthy’s tackle output is relatively low for a middle linebacker, being that he is right in the thick of things.
McCarthy needs to step up and work on getting off blocks as there were times last season where he was out of position on a lot of plays this season, if he can increase his tackles and be the field general at linebacker that will shore up the middle of the defense especially with the return of Forston.
When DeMarcus Van Dyke aka "DVD" shunned the University of Florida at the last minute to sign with Miami, I like many fans thought this guy was going to be a shut down cornerback.
Well "DVD" has been like one of those movies you rent, but are not quite sure how good it is after watching half of the movie. He only has one interception during his career, and he was beaten out for the starting job last year by Sam Shields, a converted wide receiver.
To be fair, getting beaten out by Shields has as much to do with Shields 4.2 second 40 yard dash speed than his ability to play the position.
Van Dyke is going to play an important role because if he can play solidly across from Brandon Harris, it will be a huge boost for this defense.
It will allow the Hurricanes to put more pressure on the opposing quarterback if the receivers are not getting open easily and do not require safety help.
The Hurricanes have always been good when their safeties are able to roam free and make plays; if Van Dyke can live up to the hype the defense may be in for a good year.
This freak of nature who was one of the most heralded recruits in Miami history will finally see the field for the Hurricanes.
Armstrong is slated to play safety replacing the inconsistent Randy Phillips, but some fear that Armstrong will outgrow the position as he already weighs 220 pounds.
Some feel he is destined to play linebacker, it is all speculation at this point. The truth is Armstrong will have to step on the field, and make a significant impact immediately.
The comparisons to Sean Taylor have been talked about since he signed with the Hurricanes, if Armstrong can be a great player like Taylor then the Hurricanes defense will be formidable against any offense they play.
Vaughn Telmaque logged significant playing time last season, and should be able to help Armstrong get acclimated to playing the position.
There are high expectations for Armstrong, and if he comes anywhere close to meeting them he could leave Miami as another great defensive player in Hurricanes history.
You remember names like Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olson, should I go on? With the graduation of Dedrick Eps, Tervaris Johnson, Jack Byrne, Richard Gordon and Jimmy Graham the Hurricanes are left with very little experience at the tight end position.
Before signing three tight ends in this year’s recruiting class, the Hurricanes only have Stephen Plein and Billy Sanders returning to the team. Both players redshirted last season, so they did not see any game action.
Hurricanes tight ends accounted for 44 receptions, 554 yards, and 10 touchdowns last season, which is only three fewer touchdowns than the entire wide receiving corps.
This highlights the importance of the tight end position for the Hurricanes to be successful on offense, and to come into the season with no clear cut starter at that position is a bit of a concern.
The tight end is Jacory Harris’s safety net not just by blocking the defensive end, but many of the hot reads go to the tight end; so having a reliable player who you have chemistry with is important.
This will be a key part of the offense, and I am putting my money on Chase Ford to win the starting job.
Hampered by injuries this past season, Forston did not have the breakout year that many expected. He has the size to be a force on the inside, and with his injury that forced the Hurricanes to move Allen Bailey inside.
The Hurricanes like to play Bailey at defensive end because of his size and quickness, but were forced to play him on the interior defensive line where they lacked depth.
Forston came out of surgery a few weeks ago to repair an injured shoulder; it seems he came through the surgery well and if he can build off of his freshman season
If Forston can return and become a dominant force in the middle of that defensive line, Miami will be able to effectively stop the run and protect their undersized linebackers at the same time.
Miami has always preferred smaller faster linebackers which make them susceptible to power running teams if the offensive linemen are able to get to them.
Having a dominant defensive line allows the speed and quickness of the Hurricanes linebackers to smother the running game of the opposing team forcing them to be one dimensional.
Damien Berry had an impressive debut in 2009, he rushed 93 times for 616 yards with eight touchdowns, and those were great statistics considering he missed the first four games of the season.
Berry will need to build on what he did last season because the Hurricanes are going to be thin on experience in the backfield with Javarris James graduating and Graig Cooper’s status uncertain because of injury.
Behind Berry, the Hurricanes have Mike James, Lamar Miller, and Lee Chambers who all have little to no playing experience.
Despite Miami’s high flying passing attack everything is setup through the running game, if you take out Jacory Harris’s sack yardage then the Hurricanes rushed for over 2000 yards as a team.
The running game will allow the Hurricanes to sustain drives, if they can avoid getting impatient by throwing deep too much and let the run setup the play action pass this offense will be hard to stop.
With Storm Johnson and Eduardo Clements signed as Hurricanes the team now has much needed depth at the running back position, but it all starts with Berry.
Randy Shannon is entering his fourth year as head coach, the reviews are mixed some feel he is doing a great job and others want him gone.
The recruiting efforts during his tenure have been good for the most part, but some of those heralded recruits have not panned out (i.e., Arthur Brown).
There are times where the team has not played up to its full potential; games like Wake Forest, UNC, Wisconsin, and Clemson all come to mind.
Randy Shannon has had a lot of coaching turnover on his staff which can also explain the lack of continuity.
Shannon has to be the foundation and find a way to motivate these players to play at a high level, and that will come from trust in his coaching staff.
It is well known that he had a difference of opinion with offensive coordinator Mark Whipple a few times this season, and he still feels the need to be hands on with the defense.
Shannon must focus on leading the team as a whole, and trust the coaches he hired to do their jobs. If he can pull that off, I believe the coaching staff and team will come together for a great run in 2010.
This analysis was meant talk about individuals, but the offensive line has to play as a cohesive unit in order for the Hurricanes to achieve their goals this season.
You have some veterans in Orlando Franklin and Joel Figueroa, who need to be the glue that holds this offensive line together.
It is unclear if the Hurricanes plan to work in some of their young talent like Malcolm Bunche or Brandon Linder this season, but it appears the Hurricanes now have some depth on the offensive line, which they lacked last season.
This is the one area on the team that is a bit of a question mark going into next season; after the Champs Sports Bowl, the offensive line play has been called into question.
If the line can give Jacory Harris time throw the ball, and create running room for Damien Berry and company then the Hurricanes will be a tough team to beat in 2010.
Should the performance in the Champs Sports Bowl become the norm, then this team will be in for a long season as Jacory Harris, did not deal with pressure last season.
The 2010 season is all about Jacory Harris; he is the cog that makes this engine go. At times last year he looked like a Heisman contender, and other times he looked like he could not get out of his own way.
This team is only going to go as far as Harris takes them, as the defense will improve over last year.
With that being said, the Hurricanes Defense will not hold teams under 21 points as in the glory days, so the team will need to play with a lead.
That is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Harris, as the Hurricanes will have to outscore most of their opponents and rely on timely defensive stops to win games.
With thumb surgery behind him, it is expected that Harris will make a full recovery, and return to the early season form he displayed last season. If Harris is given the time to throw deep, the Hurricanes receiving core will take about any defense in the country.
Should the Hurricanes running game keep the status quo, this team will be in the mix for conference and possibly a national championship.