Miami Hurricanes Season Preview: Talented and Young with a Killer Schedule

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2009

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 13:  Javarris James #5 and tight end Richard Gordon #84 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrate after James' touchdown against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Dolphin Stadium on November 13, 2008 in Miami, Florida. Miami defeated Virginia Tech 16-14.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The Miami Hurricanes look to get back in the ACC title race in 2009 coming off a 7-6 2008 campaign. Randy Shannon has several highly-rated recruiting classes on campus and the pressure is turning up on him to bring Miami back to national prominence. To get a better understanding of the 'Canes, I contacted the guys at The 7th Floor.

Is Randy Shannon on the hot seat?

He's on the hot seat to make a bowl game, no doubt. But anyone who has seen Miami's schedule knows we open the season at No. 19 FSU, home against No. 13 Ga.Tech, at No. 7 Va.Tech, and home against No. 2 Oklahoma. So nobody has any misgivings about starting the season 4-0. Now tell us some more about how the SEC's schedule is so hard.

Will the temperature be turned up or dialed down at the end of this season?

If after those first four games, they somehow don't regroup and bring the fury of God down on the UCF's and Clemson's and Wake's, then yes, the alumni club will be handing out complimentary pitchforks and torches outside Joe Robbie on Saturday mornings.

How much confidence do you have in Jacory Harris to lead this Miami team to an ACC title?

The unwavering, unflinching, blindly loyal would follow him through the gates of Hell kind.

What kind of changes on offense will we see with new OC Mark Whipple?

A guy I went to law school with played QB for coach Whipple at Brown. He tells me that coach Whipple loves him some "run and shoot," and has a variation on it called the "whiplash" (no backs, just WRs and blockers). He also called him a "strategic genius." But the aforementioned statements should probably be taken with a grain of salt coming from this guy.

Plus, while Miami has WRs and RBs coming out the wazoo, we're pretty weak at tight end. Hopefully with the change that coach Whippleβ€”the "strategic genius"β€”brings, we will be able to find a way to get the ball to our play makers without the luxury of a pass catching tight end ready to open a few holes.

Same goes for the defense under John Lovett?

What kind of changes will the defense see under coach Lovett? Hopefully the kind that involves our cover corners not getting pushed around by bigger, stronger WRs like they did most of last season. In their defense, Brandon Harris was a true freshman and DVD (DeMarcus Van Dyke) apparently never got the memo that last year was supposed to be his breakout season.

My "spidey" sense tells me that the front seven will be the most impressive aspect of this team, and the first unit to regain the old Miami swagger. Hopefully the change coach Lovett brings will be finding ways to set them loose on a more consistent basis.

I think the biggest position drop off recently for Miami has been on the o-line. With three starters back, will we see the Miami line win the battle of the trenches this year?

Much like our cover corners, the O-line has nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, we still lack a big, bruising tight end and our fullback is 5'8", 260 lbs. So we're a ways off from the days when Kenny D's (Ken Dorsey) sweet, snow white cheeks went the better part of two years without touching grass. But Jacory will have much better protection than he did last season.

The Hurricanes' D ranked last in ACC play against the run in '08. Who are the players who need to step up to improve the run defense?

I'll wager my entire next year's salary that, barring injury, this fall you will see Marcus Forston and Allen Bailey do that thing where they strike down with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to cutback and find holes to slip through. And you will know our name is the U when they lay their vengeance upon thee.

Who are the impact freshmen this year for the 'Canes?

"Ray Ray," as in Aravious "Ray Ray" Armstrong.

The first four games are brutal. What is the likelihood of Miami starting the season 0-4?

As long as we beat Florida State, there shall be no rebellion.

Where do you put Miami's ACC and overall record at the end of the regular season?

9-3 overall is realistic; lofty, but realistic. As long as we beat Florida State, 8-4 will stave off talk of mutiny. Anything less than 8-4 and it's pitchforks and torches.

My thoughts on Miami...

This was quite a revealing interview. The swagger the Hurricanes had in their dominant years is gone and teams do not fear them anymore. They have the talent in Coral Gables to win the ACC, but getting that talent to come together at once will be the big test.

I think Miami is still a few years away on offense from being really good though. Defensively, they have talent and speed all over the field, but will again need to learn a new system.

The schedule is brutal in September and the 'Canes will likely be favored in just one of those four games. The Georgia Tech game is huge in my opinion and could make or break their season.

I do like Miami's chances in that game facing a Tech team coming on the road for a second straight Thursday game. After the Sept. 12 bye, Miami plays 11 straight, which is grueling.

My Prediction...

7-5, 4-4, Bowl Game

Best Case Scenario: 9-3
Worst Case Scenario: 6-6

Vegas Odds:
BCS Championship 35/1
ACC Championship 6/1 (tied fourth)
Win Total 7.5

Thanks again to the guys at The 7th Floor.

What are your thoughts on Miami? Are they ready to return to prominence or does mediocrity make another appearance in 2009?


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