2010 NCAA Football Preview: Miami Hurricanes

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 9-4, 5-3
Bowl Game: Champs Sports Bowl (L 14-20 vs. Wisconsin)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): 19, 19
Conference finish: 3rd ACC Coastal
Offensive rank: 45
Defensive rank: 29

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Graig Cooper, 695 yards, 4 TD; Damien Berry, 616 yards, 8 TD; Javarris James, 492 yards, 6 TD
Passing: Jacory Harris, 3,352 yards, 24 TD, 17 INT
Receiving: Leonard Hankerson, 801 yards, 6 TD; Travis Benjamin, 501 yards, 4 TD
Tackles: Darryl Sharpton, 106 total tackles; Colin McCarthy, 95 total tackles
Sacks: Allen Bailey, 7 sacks (7 solo)
Interceptions: Randy Phillips, 2 interceptions; Brandon Harris, 2 interceptions; Micanor Regis, 2 interceptions

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)


Key Matchups

September 11 @ Ohio State: The last time these two met was in the 2002 National Championship Game in Phoenix. The Miami faithful has been stewing on a controversial call at the end of the game for quite a while, and will be eager to put a damper on the Buckeyes 2010 title bid. This will be an enormous test for Jacory Harris, who was prone to interceptions last season, taking on a stiff defense team that forced 35 turnovers (24 interceptions) in 2009.

October 9 vs. Florida State: Remember last season's opening night matchup between the 'Canes and Seminoles? Ever see a Miami/FSU game? Then you know this is a big one. Miami/FSU matchups are among the most watched college football games in ESPN history.

October 23 vs. North Carolina:Both the Tar Heels and 'Canes are looking to shift the balance of power in the Coastal Division away from Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The winner of this matchup will be in the better position down the stretch. North Carolina will field one of the better defenses in the nation in 2010, but their offense is a bit suspect. If the 'Canes can avoid mistakes on offense and keep the Tar Heels offense out of the end zone, they'll be in good shape.

November 20 vs. Virginia Tech:Miami starts the season with rough road games in Columbus and Pittsburgh, and then must head to Clemson to start their conference schedule. But they'll finish up their conference matchups with the Hokies at home. Miami is looking to erase last season's 31-7 loss in Blacksburg, and will likely have to grab this one to close their conference schedule with the Hokies, Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets vying for the division title.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Javarris James, RB; Jimmy Graham, TE; Dedrick Epps, TE; Jason Fox, OT; A.J. Trump, C; Joe Joseph, DT; Darryl Sharpton, LB; Randy Phillips, S

Key Returning Players

Jacory Harris, QB; Graig Cooper, RB; Damien Berry, RB; Leonard Hankerson, WR; Travis Benjamin, WR; LaRon Byrd, WR; Orlando Franklin, OT; Allen Bailey, DE; Sean Spence, LB; Colin McCarthy, LB; Brandon Harris, CB; Matt Bosher, P/K

Offensive Overview

The biggest question on offense is whether Jacory Harris can make better decisions with the football. As a quarterback, confidence to hit your targets is an essential characteristic, but Harris displayed a bit of overconfidence at times, forcing passes and throwing into double and triple coverages quite a bit. He ended the season with 17 picks, second most in the nation behind Jevan Snead of Ole Miss. An injury to his throwing hand didn't help, but making better decisions is the key here. There's no doubt that he has the ability to blossom into one of the game's premier quarterbacks and compete for a Heisman Trophy this or next season, though. He showed that in 2009 with over 3,300 yards passing and 24 touchdowns. His confidence serves him well when he uses it right, and he developed a rapport with his wide receivers throughout the season, particularly Leonard Hankerson, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin.

Speaking of the Miami wide receivers, every wide receiver who caught a pass last season is back for the 2010 campaign. They are led by Hankerson, Benjamin and LaRon Byrd. Benjamin is the more explosive of the three, while Hankerson came up big on third downs quite a bit last season. Aldarius Johnson, Harris' high school teammate, and Thearon Collier will also be called upon to make plays on the offense. Finding a replacement for tight ends Dedrick Epps and Jimmy Graham is one of the focuses this offseason. The two combined for eight touchdowns in 2009.

The offensive line is a question mark heading into the season. The losses of tackle Jason Fox and center A.J. Trump put into question even more than last season the line's ability to block for Harris and create running lanes for their plethora of backs. The Hurricanes ranked 100th in sacks allowed last year. Orlando Franklin started at left guard in 2009, but makes the transition to left tackle to replace Fox in 2010. Replacing Trump is Tyler Horn, a junior whose progress is being closely monitored. At the right tackle position, redshirt freshman Jermaine Johnson and sophomore Ben Jones are locked in a pretty close competition that will extend into the fall. Guard Joel Figueroa will once again start, while Brandon Washington is expected to start at the other guard. What role newly signed tackle Seantrel Henderson plays and to what degree will be interesting as we inch closer to the season.

Running back, like wide receiver, is a position of strength for the Hurricanes, even with senior Graig Cooper likely sidelined for the first few games. Damien Berry will enjoy a more featured role this season after waiting until October to take a handoff last season. Nonetheless, he managed over 600 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. Behind Cooper and Berry is Mike James, who moves to running back after spending last season at fullback, and Lamar Miller. Lee Chambers could also see some playing time this season. Look for Miller to emerge as a significant piece of the Miami backfield heading into 2011. Miami also brings in a few talented true freshmen running backs this season.

Defensive Overview

Defensive end Allen Bailey is the biggest name on a Miami defense eager to get back to their heyday. Bailey will lead what will be a very, very deep defensive line. Playing opposite Bailey will be Adewale Ojomo, who missed all of last season with a broken jaw. Marcus Robinson is also expected to see significant playing time as a speed rusher. In the middle, Marcus Forston and Micanor Regis are expected to get the start, although Josh Holmes could push for significant playing time as well. Forston missed most of last season due to injury and will look to pick up where he left off as a true freshman in 2008, drawing comparisons to UM great Warren Sapp while playing in a reserve role.

Linebacker Sean Spence missed three games last season and failed to live up to lofty expectations stemming from his 2008 campaign in which he was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Spence and Colin McCarthy return to the outside linebacker positions, but exactly who will replace Darryl Sharpton in the middle is a bit uncertain. Kylan Robinson is currently the favorite with Ramon Buchanan pushing for playing time. Depth is a concern for this unit with inexperience rife among the reserves.

Junior cornerback Brandon Harris leads the secondary, with senior DeMarcus Van Dyke expected to start opposite Harris. At the safety positions will be Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong, two young players with worlds of potential. Telemaque and Armstrong follow an impressive line of Hurricane safeties in Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Brandon Meriweather and Kenny Phillips, and while it is very early to say, many expect them to be the one of the best safety duos to come through the program.

Special Teams Overview

Matt Bosher does it all for the Hurricanes special teams. He punts, kicks extra points, kicks field goals, kicks off and even makes a key tackle to prevent a touchdown when he needs to (check out the 3:05 mark for two hits on Florida's Brandon James). Bosher is one of the top punters/kickers in the nation and a top prospect for next April's draft. Bosher was an All-ACC first team kicker and All-ACC second team punter in 2009. He was 14 for 16 in field goals with a long of 51 and hit all 50 of his extra points last season. As a punter, he averaged 42.5 yards per punt; the best average of his career.

In the return game, Travis Benjamin could see more time returning punts and kicks. He returned nine punts for 57 yards a year ago and returned just one kickoff for 18 yards. Thearon Collier will continue to see significant time as a punt returner. He returned two punts for touchdowns last season, taking 12 punts for 158 yards altogether. Mike James could see time as a kick returner after averaging 21.2 yards per kick return in 2009.

Head Coach: Randy Shannon

Randy Shannon enters his fourth season as head coach of the Hurricanes. He recently signed a contract extension that will no doubt help his team continue their quest to re-erect the Hurricanes' recruiting walls around South Florida established by Howard Schnellenberger in the eighties and maintained by Miami coaching staffs through the early nineties. After a few years with the Dolphins of the NFL, Shannon returned to his alma mater where he had spent five seasons as a grad assistant and assistant coach to assume defensive coordinator duties. Shannon led the UM defense during their national title run in 2001 and finished with a top ten defense in five of his six seasons as the defensive coordinator.

In 2010, Shannon has his deepest team yet and with experience from top to bottom, heads into the season with his best shot yet at claiming Miami's first ACC title. Since taking over for Larry Coker in 2007, Shannon has brought in his kids and has consistently increased Miami's win total from the year prior.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Graig Cooper, RB; Damien Berry, RB; Leonard Hankerson, WR; Orlando Franklin, OT; Allen Bailey, DE; Colin McCarthy, LB; DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB; Matt Bosher, K/P

Season Prediction

ACC Champions

With most fans focusing on the Ohio State and Pitt matchups to begin the year, and who could blame them, many are forgetting about the conference-opening road game against Clemson, champions of the Atlantic Division last season. Miami will also have to contend with defending Coastal Division, and ACC, champs Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Sure, the 'Canes get Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech at home, but road games against last seasons' ACC Championship participants will be important in deciding Miami's fate in 2010.

That said, the 'Canes return a much more experienced team this season with members of their top ranked 2008 recruiting class now entering their junior seasons and with a number of seniors returning as key members of this team. With their deepest team in years and experience across the board, Miami is in prime position to claim an ACC Championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl. The past two seasons, analysts, fans and just about anybody you spoke to gave the Hurricanes the 'youth excuse'. That stops this season. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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