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 7 years ago '04        #5621
Cap Peeler 7 heat pts
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Hurricane football 2009 season preview: Game 5 vs. Florida A&M


With the 2009 college football season approaching, it's time to preview the Miami Hurricanes' season game-by-game. Each week, I'll be analyzing one opponent as we lead up towards the beginning of fall practice for the University of Miami football team.

This week, I'll be looking at Miami's game at home against the Florida A&M Rattlers. This will be Miami's 5th game of the season, and their 3rd home game. Florida A&M is a Football Championship Subdivision team (or FCS, formerly known as Divsion I-AA) and had a relatively successful season last year as they went 9-3 in 2008.

Last Meeting: On September 9th, 2006, #17 Miami defeated Florida A&M 51-10 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Miami's running backs combined to score 6 touchdowns in the game. Charlie Jones ran for 2 scores, while Javarris James and Tyrone Moss ran for one each. James and Jerrell Mabry also caught touchdowns from quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman, respectively. The Miami running game was also dominant in terms of yardage as UM ran for 339 yards against the Rattlers. Backup QB Matt Perrelli also added a one-yard touchdown run to cap the Hurricanes' scoring output after Dwayne Hendricks notched a safety for Miami in the 4th quarter. Florida A&M's scoring came from a 44-yard Wesley Taylor field goal near the end of the first half that brought the score to within 21-3 at the half and from a Leon Camel 7-yard pass to Roosevelt Kiser in the third quarter that made the score 35-10 at that point. Florida A&M would slip to 0-2 on the year, while Miami would improve to 1-1 on the season after a season-opening 13-10 loss to Florida St.

Florida A&M Offense: The Florida A&M attack is led by sophomore QB Curtis Pulley, who transferred from the University of Kentucky. He is a dual-threat quarterback that posted impressive statistics last year. He threw for 17 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions. He also ran for 887 yards and 7 touchdowns on the year. The Hurricane defense struggled for the most part last year with mobile quarterbacks such as Christian Ponder and Russell Wilson, so this will be a good test to see if they've improved in that regard. Philip Sylvester (Pictured, Source: ajc.com) also returns at running back for the Rattlers afte running for 747 yards and 6 touchdowns a year ago. Florida A&M's top three receivers who caught a combined 16 touchdown passes a year ago also return in 2009. All of this experience on offense should help improve the offense even more from last year, when it put some impressive point totals on the board in some games. If the Miami defense is flat from the prior four weeks of competition, it's possible that the Rattlers could put some solid yardage totals up in this game.

Florida A&M Defense: Florida A&M is a program that has more traditionally seemed to have stressed offense more, and as a result there have been times where the Rattler defense has been exposed by some FCS foes. Last season for instance, Florida A&M won games by scores of 52-49 (at Southern University), 31-28 (at Norfolk State), and 58-35 (Bethune-Cookman). They did also record a shutout however, as they blanked Winston-Salem at home 21-0 in a game that saw FAMU only yield 81 total yards of offense. Succinctly, this is a defense that Miami should put up a lot of points on given the talent disparity between the two teams, but much as was the case with the defense, if Miami offensively is feeling any sort of a hangover, the Rattlers have the ability to contain the Hurricane offense.

Florida A&M Special Teams: Kicker Trevor Scott returns for the Rattlers. He made 54 of 55 extra points last year and connected on 12 of 20 field goal attempts on the season. Also returning is P Will Platt, who averaged 36.2 yards per punt on 28 attempts in 2008. The primary punt and kick returner for the team returns also as LeRoy Vann returns in 2009 for FAMU. Curtis Pulley may also even get a shot at returning punts, as he did so in last year's rivalry game with Bethune-Cookman, a game where he also threw for 125 yards and ran for 171 yards while accounting for four touchdowns. Certainly, the returning experience can only benefit the Rattlers against a UM unit that looks to be one of the better groups in the country. The coverage units could be susceptible however, as the depth on FCS teams generally isn't spectacular, which can at times lead to some breakdowns in those areas.

Prediction: Miami will enter this game 2-2 on the year and will be a borderline top-25 team. After 4 straight weeks of playing top quality competition, Miami will not come out with much intensity for this game. It won't matter. Florida A&M is a quality FCS team and has been for some time, but they simply don't have the talent to match up with the Hurricanes. The result of this game will be very similar to their matchup in 2006, where Miami used this game to build depth and piled up the rushing statistics. Graig Cooper, Javarris James, Lamar Miller (provided he doesn't redshirt), and Lee Chambers will all score touchdowns for the Hurricanes in this one. Taylor Cook will see extended action in the second half and play well for UM. Florida A&M will put forth a great effort and QB Curtis Pulley will give the Hurricanes defense a few problems. He'll lead the team to a field goal in the first half. He'll also guide the Rattlers to a touchdown and another field goal in the second half, but it won't be close to enough. Miami will improve to 3-2 on the year and solidify their ranking just inside the rankings of the major polls at #24 or so. Next week, Miami travels to Orlando to take on the UCF Knights, a team which nearly beat them last season at Dolphin Stadium. (or at what is otherwise now known as Land Shark Stadium)

Miami 52, Florida A&M 13
 7 years ago '04        #5622
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Hurricane football 2009 season preview: Game 6 at UCF
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With the 2009 college football season approaching, it's time to preview the Miami Hurricanes' season game-by-game. Each week, I'll be analyzing one opponent as we lead up towards the beginning of fall practice for the University of Miami football team.

This week I'll be looking at Miami's game on October 17th in Orlando against the UCF Knights. The Knights went 4-8 last season overall and 3-5 in Conference USA under head coach George O'Leary (Pictured, Source: ) This is one of the biggest games in the history of the UCF program, as it's the first time one of the state's "big three" traditonal football schools (those being UM, UF, and FSU) have played a game in Orlando. Bright House Networks Stadium should prove to be a very hostile atmosphere for the Hurricanes, although they should be used to crowd noise by this point having played at Florida State and Virginia Tech already in this season.

Last Meeting: On September 11th, 2008, Miami defeated UCF 20-14 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Frankly, this was arguably the ugliest game Miami has been a part of in at least the last 15 years (you could make a case for the 2007 UM game vs. NC State however). Miami's offense completely stalled in the second half after taking an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter. UCF for its part did not score a offensive point on the day. Their first score came on a Johnell Neal 62-yard interception return to bring the Knights to within 10-7. After UM took a 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter, Joe Burnett took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to help make the score 20-14. After another poor Miami offensive sequence, UCF had one final opportunity and actually moved the ball into Miami territory a bit before appropriately stalling to end the game. The offensive statistics simply weren't pretty from this game. UCF converted 2 of 18 times on 3rd down, while Miami only converted 3 of 17 opportunities. Miami had a very medicore count of 216 yards, but UCF had an astoundingly low total of 78 total yards including an incredible 4 yards rushing on 27 attempts. The quarterback play on both sides was absolutely atrocious. UCF starting QB Rob Calabrese completed just 11 of 35 passes for 74 yards. (his backup Michael Greco came in briefly in the second half and threw 2 incomplete passes). Miami QB Robert Marve completed 8 of 19 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown but also threw 3 interceptions. (his backup Jacory Harris completed 4 of 6 passes for 14 yards) This would be the start of a five-game winning streak for the Hurricanes as they improved to 3-3 on the season while UCF fell to 2-4 on the year.

UCF Offense: The Knights were dead last in all of the Division 1 FBS in yards per game garnering an average of 229.5 yards per game. The averaged 16.58 points per game, which was good for 113th in the FBS last year. Sophomore Rob Calabrese, senior Michael Greico, and sophomore Joe Weatherford (brother of former Florida State QB Drew Weatherford) return at QB for UCF. Last season, Calabrese would seem to be the favorite going in, but probably had the worst statistical year of the three, as he only completed only 65 of his passes in 165 attempts. As a positive, he did throw 7 touchdowns as opposed to only 5 interceptions. Greico completed 52 of his 107 attempts on the year. Again, he at least took care of the ball as he threw 5 touchdowns as opposed to only 4 interceptions on the season. Weatherford saw sporadic action throughout the year but started the last game against UAB in which the offense failed to score a point. He completed 15 of his 36 attempts on the year without a touchdown pass and he threw two interceptions in 2008. The Knights must find someone at this position to step up and complete more than 50 percent of their passes, or it will be another long year offensively for UCF. The running game was also largely ineffective for the Knights last year as they ranked 98th in the country with an average of 113.25 yards per contest. Sophomores Brynn Harvey and Ronnie Weaver will be two players given the bulk of the carries this fall as they try to improve the Knights' rushing attack. Harvey ran for 519 yards and a touchdown last year while Weaver ran for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Knights' relative strength offensively appears to lie with its receivers. Senior Brian Watters returns after catching 42 passes for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns. Junior Kamar Aiken also comes back for UCF after catching 20 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. Rocky Ross comes back unexpectedly for his fifth season after breaking his collarbone early in 2008. He potentially could be the most productive of this group after catching 13 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. Each of the receivers also have good size as each of them measures in at 6-2. The offensive line also returns four starters losing only OT Patrick Brown from last year's group. He's actually the only starter that doesn't return for this group, so they'll have to bank on their experience to improve on last year's offensive totals. Overall, on paper this is probably the weakest FBS offense Miami will face all year, but one that is full of athletes who were rejected by the bigger schools in Florida that are eager to prove these schools wrong. Given this, it's important that the Miami defense come out with the same intensity and focus that it did in last year's meeting.

UCF Defense: The UCF defense was very solid last season as they only gave up an average of 24.08 points per game, which was good for 43rd in FBS. The rushing defense in particular was a strength on the season, as it was in the game against Miami. They held opponents to an average of 126 yard per game on the ground. The passing defense ranked 58th in the country allowing 207.67 yards per game. The front seven on defense should be the biggest strength on the team this year. Junior defensive end Bruce Miller returns after recording a team-high 7 sacks last season. Senior Jarvis Geathers also returns at defensive end after recording 5.5 sacks last season and he should see some playing time at that spot along with redshir junior David Williams, who is projected to start opposite Miller currently. Also returning is senior defensive tackle Travis Troup, who recorded 12.5 tackles for loss in 2008. All three linebackers also return for UCF, which in tandem with the returnees on the defensive line should make the Knights' rush defense very formidable. Juniors Jordan Richards and Lawrence Young will be the outside linebackers while redshirt senior Cory Hogue will start at middle linebacker. The secondary was seemingly everywhere against Miami last year, but there's some major rebuilding to do All four starters from last year's team are gone. Juniors Emery Allen and Darin Baldwin will start at the two cornerback positions. Allen is listed as 5-9, while Baldwin is shown at 5-11, which could pose a problem against the taller UM receivers such as Aldarius Johnson and LaRon Byrd. At free safety, juniors Derrick Hallman and Reggie Weams will start at free safety and strong safety respectively. Miami didn't have a ton of success running the ball last year, and it's likely that they won't be able to completely control the game on the ground this year either. The matchups dictate Miami's best offense should come through the air in this game as the experienced Miami receivers should have a clear advantage against UCF's relatively small and inexperienced secondary.

UCF Special Teams: Kicker Darren Daly (a former Hurricane) departs after connecting on 4 of 9 field goal attempts and 14 of 15 extra points. Sophomore Nick Cattoi made 4 of 6 field goals last season as well as 9 of 10 extra points, and appears to be the favorite to replace Daly. Junior Blake Clingan will handle the punting duties for the third consecutive year for the Knights. He's averaged just over 40 yards per punt each of the last two seasons. Redshirt sophomore David Bohner is in reserve at both of these positions. UCF also has a daunting task in replacing Joe Burnett in the return game. Burnett was one of the best returners Miami saw last season, and the players stepping in for him have big shoes to fill. As of spring practice, the kick returners listed on the depth chart are junior WR Khymest Williams and starting CB Darin Baldwin. Freshman Josh Robinson and redshirt freshman Vance King are listed one-two on the depth chart at punt returner.

Prediction: Miami will enter this game 3-2 on the season and will be on the edge of the Top 25. UCF will enter the season 3-2 with wins over Samford, Buffalo, and Memphis and losses to East Carolina and Southern Miss. This is a dangerous game for UM in the sense that there's not a lot to gain here, and there's a lot to lose, but it's a game they should win. Miami will jump out to an early lead in this one. UCF will keep this game close enough to where Miami won't be able to just coast, but they simply don't have enough offensive firepower to beat a team with as many weapons as the Hurricanes. For its part, Miami's offense won't have its greatest performance ever, particularly in the second half, but it will do just enough to wind down the clock in the fourth quarter with a two-score lead. Much like last year's affair, UCF's inability to find their QB will ultimately doom them, and the Hurricane defense will for the most part shut them down. The Knights will put up a few offensive points unlike last year, but ultimately it won't be near enough. UCF will drop to 3-3 on the season. Miami will improve to 4-2 on the year, with a home date against the Clemson Tigers due up the following week.
 7 years ago '04        #5623
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Hurricane football 2009 season preview: Game 8 at Wake Forest
July 5, 5:13 AM
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With the 2009 college football season approaching, it's time to preview the Miami Hurricanes' season game-by-game. Each week, I'll be analyzing one opponent as we lead up towards the beginning of fall practice for the University of Miami football team.

This week I'll be looking at Miami's game on October 31st in Winston-Salem, North Carolina against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Demon Deacons have been known for some time as one of the most well-coached teams in America. Jim Grobe always seems to get the most out of his talent each year. With that said, Wake Forest is a team that Miami has had a great deal of success against since joining the ACC, as they have gone undefated against the Demon Deacons in ACC play.

Last Meeting: On October 25th, 2008, the Hurricanes defeated Wake Forest 16-10 in Miami. This game was memorable for the peculiar offensive play-calling employed by Wake Forest. Initially, the game-plan was a sound one as the Demon Deacons took the opening kickoff 66 yards on 10 consecutive rushing plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Demon Deacons would not attempt a pass on either of their next 2 drives either, despite the presence of a trusted, veteran QB in Riley Skinner (Pictured, Source: ) After a drive without a pass that resulted in a punt, Wake Forest again scored a field goal to on a long drive to take a 10-3 lead where they only ran the ball, despite being a fairly prolific passing team on the year. Soon however, the Miami defense would catch on to the playcalling and began to snuff out the Demon Deacons rushing attack. The second half was all Miami as the defense held firm while the offense began to produce after only scoring 3 points in the first half. Matt Bosher kicked two field goals and QB Robert Marve ran for a 1-yard touchdown after setting himself with a long 43-yard run at the drive to give Miami a 16-10 lead. Despite being down in the contest late, Wake Forest still for the most part stubbornly refused to open up the offense and still primarily stuck to the running game, which by then was ineffective. Skinner finished the day having completed just 3-of-8 passes for 57 yards. (one completion was a short pass to D.J. Boldin who then ran after the catch for a 45-yard gain) Miami was able to run out the clock and escape with a win that propelled them to a 5-3 record. Wake Forest fell to 4-3 with the loss.

Wake Forest Offense: This unit returns 9 starters in 2009 and should be the strength of the team. The Demon Deacons struggled at times on offense last year finishing at 101st totally in total offense, but that stat is somewhat deceiving as they can be dangerous with a variety of unorthodox offensive plays. Senior Riley Skinner returns at QB for Wake Forest after throwing last season for 2347 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's yet another quarterback the 'Canes will face that can beat you with his feet and his arm. Both running backs that ran well early against Miami last year return as both junior Josh Adams and sophomore Brandon Pendergrass, who led the team in rushing last year with 528 yards, return in 2009. The wide receving unit is a question mark for Wake Forest. Gone are starting wide receivers D.J. Boldin and Chip Brinkman. The go-to receiver now is likely 6-1 sophomore Marshall Williams who caught 26 passes for 390 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. Starting opposite of him should be 5-9 sophomore Devon Brown. Also competing for playing time will be redshirt freshmen Terence Davis and Chris Givens, who are listed at 6-1, and 6-0 respectively, along with 6-3 junior Jordan Williams. Junior tight end Ben Wooster returns, and he gives Skinner a reliable target in the middle of the field while his new wide receivers are broken in. The offensive line has the potential to be perhaps the team's biggest strength as they return four starters from last year's group. They are senior left guard Barrett McMillin, junior center Russell Nenon, senior guard Jeff Griffin, and senior tackle Jeff Birdsong. Mammoth 6-4, 362-pound senior Chris DeGeare will play at offensive tacle on the opposite side of Birdsong. The prediction that they'll be one of the strengths of the team has more to do with the expectation that they'll jell due to experience and less with past peformance, as they ranked a woeful 90th in sacks allowed in the country last year. Overally, this is an offensive group that isn't necessarily the flashiest offense ever, but they've been very effective in the ACC for the last several years. Superior athleticism seems to have shut the offense down over the last few years however as games against Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Miami have shown. Still, given how disciplined this unit is, they're likely to get some offensive traction against the Hurricane defense, a.ssuming the same questionable play-calling doesn't return from last year's game. This isn't the type of offense that is built to win a shootout however, so if Jacory Harris and the offense score enough to force this unit to open up the offense, it's not likely that Wake Forest can keep up.

Wake Forest Defense: This unit was stellar a year ago as they ranked 16th in total defense a year ago. However, this group loses 7 starters, inlcuding LB Aaron Curry, who was the 4th overall draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2009 NFL Draft, and playmaking CB Alphonso Smith. The front four still remains very formidable. They're led by senior DT Boo Robinson, who is the returning leader for the team in tackles and sacks, and is also surprisingly tied for the lead in interceptions- with 1. Senior John Russell also returns to play with Robinson on the inside of the line. Sophomore Kyle Wilber returns at defensive end, while sophomore Tristan Dorty will man the other defensive end position. The linebackers are all new with junior Matt Woodlief taking over at middle linebacker. Junior Johnathan Jones will play one outside linebacking position while the other spot will be taken by sophomore Hunter Haynes. In the secondary, only 6-0 senior Brandon Ghee returns for the Demom Deacons. 5-11 sophomore Josh Bush will take over at the other cornerback spot. 6-3 junior Alex Frye will play free safety and 6-3 redshirt freshman Cyhl Quarles will play strong safety. Overall, this is a group that the Miami passing attack should have success on and should be aggressive against. Robinson is likely to be a handful for the interior of the UM offensive line, so lining up and running the ball straight at the Demon Deacons may not be the best plan of attack, especially given the advantages Miami appears to have with TE Dedrick Epps and their wide receivers against the Wake Forest linebackers and secondary in this game.

Wake Forest Special Teams: All-world kicker Sam Swank departs Winston-Salem, but all hope is not lost for the Wake Forest kicking game. Sophomore Shane Popham returns to handle both the punting and kicking duties for the club. He averaged 39.2 yards per punt on 54 attempts last fall. He also filled in for an injured Swank at times last season and connected on 7 of 12 field goal attempts and on all 9 of his extra point attempts. Alphonso Smith won't just be missed in the Wake Forest secondary, but also on special teams. Devon Brown returns as one of the kick returners having returned 16 kicks for a 21.9-yard average in 2008. He may also be asked to handle the punt return duties as well, but overall the punt returner position appears wide open along with one of the kick return spots alongside Brown.

Prediction: Miami will enter this game 5-2 on the season and will be ranked between 15th and 20th in the polls coming into this game. Wake Forest will enter this game 6-2 and will be ranked between 20th and 25th in the polls with wins against Baylor, Stanford, Elon, and Maryland and road wins at Navy and Boston College. They'll also have lost two games at home to North Carolina St. and on the road at Clemson. Wake Forest ran all over Miami early on last year, and being that they're at an athletic disadvantage, they'll probably look to do the same again this year (although not to just such an extreme extent in all likelihood) and try to shorten the game. Wake Forest's misdirection will lead to some big gains for the Demon Deacons running game, but the inexperience in the receiving unit and questions with the offensive line's pass protection may cause the passing game to be somewhat muted against the Hurricane defense. Although the Demon Deacons do lose 7 starters on defense, they'll play relatively well at home and won't let the UM offense explode on them. However, there are simply too many questions in the back seven for Wake Forest for them to be able to contain all of the weapons from Miami for an entire 4 quarters. Miami will jump out to an early 10-point lead and it will lead by roughly that margin for most of the game. A late Wake Forest score in the 4th quarter will make things interesting, but Wake Forest has as of late been a good matchup for the Hurricanes, and that doesn't figure to change in this matchup. Miami will improve to 6-2 on the year and improve to 15th or so in the national polls while Wake Forest will slip to 6-3 on the year and will be on the borderline of being included within the national polls. Next week the Hurricanes will return home to face the Virginia Cavaliers.
 7 years ago '04        #5624
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Hurricane football 2009 season preview: Game 7 vs. Clemson
June 29, 5:11 AM
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With the 2009 college football season approaching, it's time to preview the Miami Hurricanes' season game-by-game. Each week, I'll be analyzing one opponent as we lead up towards the beginning of fall practice for the University of Miami football team.

This week I'll be looking at Miami's game on October 24th at home against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson was a team that was pegged as the preseason favorite last year to win the ACC. However, despite all of their returning talent, they got off to a very slow start to the 2008 campaign and that cost head coach Tommy Bowden his job. Interim head coach Dabo Swinney led the group on a late-season resurgence however, and Clemson salvaged a birth in the Toyota Gator Bowl out of the year. Swinney is now the full-time head coach of the Tigers, and he'll lead a team with lowered expectations into Coral Gables on October 24th. Miami shouldn't take this game lightly though, as Clemson is still very talented and will provide the Hurricanes with a stern test.

Last Meeting: On September 11th, 2005, #13 Miami defeated #20 Clemson 36-30 in triple overtime in Clemson, South Carolina. The Hurricanes came into this game 0-1 following a crushing 13-10 loss to Florida State the week before while Clemson came in with a 2-0 record after wins over Texas A&M and Clemson to start the year. The Hurricanes trailed 10-6 at halftime before putting together a couple of touchdown drives in the late third and early fourth quarters. However, up 20-10 in the 4th quarter, Miami's offense turned very conservative and allowed Clemson's offense to build momentum. After Clemson QB Clarlie Whitehurst's 1-yard touchdown run, Clemson pulled within 3 at 20-17 with 2:58 left in the game. Miami went 3-and-out on its next series, and Clemson quickly drove deep into UM territory. Whitehurst overthrew a wide open receiver in Chansi Stuckey in the end zone with time dwindling on a play that would have essentially given the Tigers the victory. That play helped lead to Clemson settling for an equalizing 27-yard field goal by Cory Groover to force overtime. Both teams each scored 7 and 3 points in the first 2 overtimes. In the third overtime, UM running back Tyrone Moss ran for his third touchdown of the day, with this one covering 25 yards. Miami would miss the subsequent 2-point conversion, but would win in the period when freshman safety Kenny Phillips picked off a Whitehurst pass to help Miami escape one of the more hostile road environments its ever played in, as they defeated Clemson 36-30. This was notably a breakout performance for Moss, who ran for 139 on 31 carries while scoring 3 touchdowns. The Hurricanes would improve to 1-1 in 2005 with the win while Clemson would drop to 2-1 on the season.

Clemson Offense: Clemson first needs to decide on who its quarterback is coming into 2009. Highly-touted Willy Korn was supposed to be the man, but redshirt freshman Kyle Parker has made the competition highly competitive. Korn has limited game experience while Parker has none, so either quarterback will be reliant upon the running game early on. Fortunately for Clemson, they boast one of the best running backs in college football in senior C.J. Spiller. (Pictured, Source: ) Spiller has been forced to share the workload with James Davis throughout his college career, but with Davis' graduation, it's Spiller's show now. Although it's an over-used comparison, Spiller's game is very reminiscent of Reggie Bush's. He's not the greatest between-the-tackles back, but his explosion and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield make him a very versataile and dangerous weapon. Sophomore Jamie Harper will serve as a very capable backup to Spiller. The wide receiving unit should be solid despite the losses of Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham. Senior Jacoby Ford returns at the position where he caught 55 passes for 710 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. He may be every bit as fast as Spiller. Junior Xavier Dye looks to get the call opposite of Ford, and the two should compliment each other well. Ford is a 5-10, 185-pound speedster while Dye is a towering 6-5, 210-pound target. Junior Terrance Ashe should also see a lot of playing time this fall as well. Senior tight end Michael Palmer also returns but isn't much of a receiving threat as he only caught 12 passes for 160 yards last year, although 3 of those were for touchdowns. The big question mark with this unit lies with the offensive line. This was a very ineffective group last year that really never allowed the offense to get going for most of the year. 4 starters from that line return including junior OT Chris Hairston, senior all-conference OG Thomas Austin, sophomore C Mason Cloy and sophomore OT Landon Walker. There's simply no way that a group with as much talent as Clemson did last year should finish 87th in total offense, but they did and most of the blame falls on the offensive line. They must perform better this year or the offense will be even worse with the losses of Harper, Davis, Kelly, and Grisham. The key for Miami will be to make someone other than Spiller beat them. If they're able to keep him under control, it would put a lot of pressure on an inexperienced QB to win the game for them a shaky offensive line and a lot of inexperience besides Ford at wide receiver.

Clemson Defense: Clemson ranked 18th nationally in total defense a year ago, and they should be just as good this year given the talent that returns in 2009. The strength of the unit is at defensive end. Senior Ricky Sapp, sophomore De'Quan Bowers, and senior Ricky Alexander form a talented trio at defensive end. The talent with these three is unquestioned, but the production wasn't nearly what was expected last year as the Tigers ranked 108th in the country in sacks. Expect that to change in a big way in 2009, as this unit with another year of experience and a new coaching staff should play up to their talent level this season. Junior Jarvis Jenkins returns at defensive tackle and will be joined by sophomore Brandon Thompson in the starting lineup. All 3 starting linebackers return for Clemson. Sophomore Brandon Maye will start at middle linebacker while junior Scotty Cooper and senior Kavell Conner will start at outside linebacker. The secondary also returns plenty of experience from last year's team. Both cornerbacks from a defense that ranked 12th nationally last year in defending the pass return. 5-10 senior Chris Chancellor and 6-0 senior Crezdon Butler will start at the position. 6-1 junior safety DeAndre McDonald also returns after starting last season. He'll be joned by 5-11 senior Sadat Chambers who replaces the departed Chris Clemson at free safety. In short, this is a defense that didn't do anything particularly poorly last year, but it's a defense that Miami needs to try to establish the running game on. The defensive ends will simply be too good to completely contain on a consistent basis, so Miami's offensive success primarily rests on the performances of RB's Javarris James and Graig Cooper.

Clemson Special Teams: There will be a new punter and kicker for Clemson in 2009 as the Tigers lose Mark Bucholz and Jimmy Maners in the kicking game. Redshirt freshman Spencer Benton would appear to have the kicking job despite suffering a broken collarbone in the offseason. Sophomore Dawson Zimmerman is the favorite to handle the punting duties after averaging 38.5 yards per punt last year on 12 attempts. Spiller should be called upon to return punts, and he and Ford are the favorites to return kicks as well. Ford and Spiller are two of the fastest players in college football, and UM's occassionally shaky coverage units will need to bring their "A" game to keep these two from breaking off big runs in the return game. Miami is stronger in the kicking game, but Clemson seems to be one of the few teams in the country that have a better return game than the Hurricanes, so one can call the comparison between the two teams in this area a draw.

Prediction: Miami will enter this game 4-2 on the season and will be around 20th in the polls coming into this game. Clemson will enter this game 5-1 and ranked just ahead of UM in the polls with home wins against Middle Tennessee State, Boston College, TCU, and Wake Forest along with a road win at Maryland and a loss at Georgia Tech. When Hurricane fans talk about the upcoming 2009 season, a lot of discussion centers around the first four-game stretch of the season. Others want to talk about what could be a big ACC Coastal Division game late at North Carolina while some focus on UM's first trips to UCF and USF. This game is an overlooked game in that talk, and it shouldn't be. Miami and Clemson will match each other score-for-score for 3 quarters but in the 4th quarter, Miami's home-field advantage and its depth at the skill positions on offense will begin to show. While Spiller and Ford will both make their presences felt in this game, the Hurricane defensive line will begin to take over in the 4th quarter against the Clemson offensive line. Miami will go up on a Graig Cooper touchdown run late, and will get just enough of a pass rush on Korn or Parker to make the lead stand. There will be plenty of anxious moments for UM fans as Clemson is one of the more talented teams in the ACC despite their losses, but UM will just have a little too much on this day for the Tigers. The first two meetings in ACC play between these two teams were outstanding games, and this should be no different. Miami will improve to 5-2 on the season following the win and improve to around #16 in the polls, while Clemson will drop to 5-2 on the year and in the process see itself slip to the edge of the Top 25 in the major polls.

Miami 28, Clemson 21
 7 years ago '04        #5625
Cap Peeler 7 heat pts
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Hurricane football 2009 season preview: Game 7 vs. Clemson
June 29, 5:11 AM
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With the 2009 college football season approaching, it's time to preview the Miami Hurricanes' season game-by-game. Each week, I'll be analyzing one opponent as we lead up towards the beginning of fall practice for the University of Miami football team.

This week I'll be looking at Miami's game on October 24th at home against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson was a team that was pegged as the preseason favorite last year to win the ACC. However, despite all of their returning talent, they got off to a very slow start to the 2008 campaign and that cost head coach Tommy Bowden his job. Interim head coach Dabo Swinney led the group on a late-season resurgence however, and Clemson salvaged a birth in the Toyota Gator Bowl out of the year. Swinney is now the full-time head coach of the Tigers, and he'll lead a team with lowered expectations into Coral Gables on October 24th. Miami shouldn't take this game lightly though, as Clemson is still very talented and will provide the Hurricanes with a stern test.

Last Meeting: On September 11th, 2005, #13 Miami defeated #20 Clemson 36-30 in triple overtime in Clemson, South Carolina. The Hurricanes came into this game 0-1 following a crushing 13-10 loss to Florida State the week before while Clemson came in with a 2-0 record after wins over Texas A&M and Clemson to start the year. The Hurricanes trailed 10-6 at halftime before putting together a couple of touchdown drives in the late third and early fourth quarters. However, up 20-10 in the 4th quarter, Miami's offense turned very conservative and allowed Clemson's offense to build momentum. After Clemson QB Clarlie Whitehurst's 1-yard touchdown run, Clemson pulled within 3 at 20-17 with 2:58 left in the game. Miami went 3-and-out on its next series, and Clemson quickly drove deep into UM territory. Whitehurst overthrew a wide open receiver in Chansi Stuckey in the end zone with time dwindling on a play that would have essentially given the Tigers the victory. That play helped lead to Clemson settling for an equalizing 27-yard field goal by Cory Groover to force overtime. Both teams each scored 7 and 3 points in the first 2 overtimes. In the third overtime, UM running back Tyrone Moss ran for his third touchdown of the day, with this one covering 25 yards. Miami would miss the subsequent 2-point conversion, but would win in the period when freshman safety Kenny Phillips picked off a Whitehurst pass to help Miami escape one of the more hostile road environments its ever played in, as they defeated Clemson 36-30. This was notably a breakout performance for Moss, who ran for 139 on 31 carries while scoring 3 touchdowns. The Hurricanes would improve to 1-1 in 2005 with the win while Clemson would drop to 2-1 on the season.

Clemson Offense: Clemson first needs to decide on who its quarterback is coming into 2009. Highly-touted Willy Korn was supposed to be the man, but redshirt freshman Kyle Parker has made the competition highly competitive. Korn has limited game experience while Parker has none, so either quarterback will be reliant upon the running game early on. Fortunately for Clemson, they boast one of the best running backs in college football in senior C.J. Spiller. (Pictured, Source: ) Spiller has been forced to share the workload with James Davis throughout his college career, but with Davis' graduation, it's Spiller's show now. Although it's an over-used comparison, Spiller's game is very reminiscent of Reggie Bush's. He's not the greatest between-the-tackles back, but his explosion and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield make him a very versataile and dangerous weapon. Sophomore Jamie Harper will serve as a very capable backup to Spiller. The wide receiving unit should be solid despite the losses of Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham. Senior Jacoby Ford returns at the position where he caught 55 passes for 710 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. He may be every bit as fast as Spiller. Junior Xavier Dye looks to get the call opposite of Ford, and the two should compliment each other well. Ford is a 5-10, 185-pound speedster while Dye is a towering 6-5, 210-pound target. Junior Terrance Ashe should also see a lot of playing time this fall as well. Senior tight end Michael Palmer also returns but isn't much of a receiving threat as he only caught 12 passes for 160 yards last year, although 3 of those were for touchdowns. The big question mark with this unit lies with the offensive line. This was a very ineffective group last year that really never allowed the offense to get going for most of the year. 4 starters from that line return including junior OT Chris Hairston, senior all-conference OG Thomas Austin, sophomore C Mason Cloy and sophomore OT Landon Walker. There's simply no way that a group with as much talent as Clemson did last year should finish 87th in total offense, but they did and most of the blame falls on the offensive line. They must perform better this year or the offense will be even worse with the losses of Harper, Davis, Kelly, and Grisham. The key for Miami will be to make someone other than Spiller beat them. If they're able to keep him under control, it would put a lot of pressure on an inexperienced QB to win the game for them a shaky offensive line and a lot of inexperience besides Ford at wide receiver.

Clemson Defense: Clemson ranked 18th nationally in total defense a year ago, and they should be just as good this year given the talent that returns in 2009. The strength of the unit is at defensive end. Senior Ricky Sapp, sophomore De'Quan Bowers, and senior Ricky Alexander form a talented trio at defensive end. The talent with these three is unquestioned, but the production wasn't nearly what was expected last year as the Tigers ranked 108th in the country in sacks. Expect that to change in a big way in 2009, as this unit with another year of experience and a new coaching staff should play up to their talent level this season. Junior Jarvis Jenkins returns at defensive tackle and will be joined by sophomore Brandon Thompson in the starting lineup. All 3 starting linebackers return for Clemson. Sophomore Brandon Maye will start at middle linebacker while junior Scotty Cooper and senior Kavell Conner will start at outside linebacker. The secondary also returns plenty of experience from last year's team. Both cornerbacks from a defense that ranked 12th nationally last year in defending the pass return. 5-10 senior Chris Chancellor and 6-0 senior Crezdon Butler will start at the position. 6-1 junior safety DeAndre McDonald also returns after starting last season. He'll be joned by 5-11 senior Sadat Chambers who replaces the departed Chris Clemson at free safety. In short, this is a defense that didn't do anything particularly poorly last year, but it's a defense that Miami needs to try to establish the running game on. The defensive ends will simply be too good to completely contain on a consistent basis, so Miami's offensive success primarily rests on the performances of RB's Javarris James and Graig Cooper.

Clemson Special Teams: There will be a new punter and kicker for Clemson in 2009 as the Tigers lose Mark Bucholz and Jimmy Maners in the kicking game. Redshirt freshman Spencer Benton would appear to have the kicking job despite suffering a broken collarbone in the offseason. Sophomore Dawson Zimmerman is the favorite to handle the punting duties after averaging 38.5 yards per punt last year on 12 attempts. Spiller should be called upon to return punts, and he and Ford are the favorites to return kicks as well. Ford and Spiller are two of the fastest players in college football, and UM's occassionally shaky coverage units will need to bring their "A" game to keep these two from breaking off big runs in the return game. Miami is stronger in the kicking game, but Clemson seems to be one of the few teams in the country that have a better return game than the Hurricanes, so one can call the comparison between the two teams in this area a draw.

Prediction: Miami will enter this game 4-2 on the season and will be around 20th in the polls coming into this game. Clemson will enter this game 5-1 and ranked just ahead of UM in the polls with home wins against Middle Tennessee State, Boston College, TCU, and Wake Forest along with a road win at Maryland and a loss at Georgia Tech. When Hurricane fans talk about the upcoming 2009 season, a lot of discussion centers around the first four-game stretch of the season. Others want to talk about what could be a big ACC Coastal Division game late at North Carolina while some focus on UM's first trips to UCF and USF. This game is an overlooked game in that talk, and it shouldn't be. Miami and Clemson will match each other score-for-score for 3 quarters but in the 4th quarter, Miami's home-field advantage and its depth at the skill positions on offense will begin to show. While Spiller and Ford will both make their presences felt in this game, the Hurricane defensive line will begin to take over in the 4th quarter against the Clemson offensive line. Miami will go up on a Graig Cooper touchdown run late, and will get just enough of a pass rush on Korn or Parker to make the lead stand. There will be plenty of anxious moments for UM fans as Clemson is one of the more talented teams in the ACC despite their losses, but UM will just have a little too much on this day for the Tigers. The first two meetings in ACC play between these two teams were outstanding games, and this should be no different. Miami will improve to 5-2 on the season following the win and improve to around #16 in the polls, while Clemson will drop to 5-2 on the year and in the process see itself slip to the edge of the Top 25 in the major polls.

Miami 28, Clemson 21
 7 years ago '04        #5626
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Hurricane football 2009 season preview: Game 4 vs. Oklahoma
June 4, 7:22 PM
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Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford (Source: about.com)

With the 2009 college football season approaching, it's time to preview the Miami Hurricanes' season game-by-game. Each week, I'll be analyzing one opponent as we lead up towards the beginning of fall practice for the University of Miami football team.

This week, I'll be looking at Miami's game at home against the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma last year played in the BCS National Championship game, where they fell to Florida 24-14. They look primed for a repeat run at a national title in 2009, led by their returning Heisman Trophy QB Sam Bradford.

Last Meeting: On September 7th, 2007. Oklahoma destroyed Miami 51-13 in Norman, Oklahoma. Coming into the game, it was thought that Miami had the advantage at QB given that Kirby Freeman was more experienced than Sam Bradford, who had only made one career start, and that was against North Texas the previous week. In retrospect, that seems laughable. Kirby Freeman was ineffective in over a quarter's worth of work before turning it over to Kyle Wright, who would start for most of the season from that point on. As for Bradford, he used this game as his own personal showcase as completed 19 of 25 passes for 205 yards and 5 touchdowns. Although the score is gaudy, Miami was actually fairly competitive midway through the third quarter as they only trailed 21-13 following a 6-yard touchdown pass from Wright to WR Ryan Hill and a 45-yard field goal from UM K Francisco Zampogna. This was after falling behind 21-3 in the first half following a Reggie Smith 61 yard fumble return for a touchdown. However, Bradford and the Oklahoma offense simply overwhelmed the Hurricane defense in the second half, as Bradford found TE Jermaine Grisham for a score in the third quarter to make it a two-score game. Following a field goal by OU K Garrett Hartley late in the third quarter, Bradford threw two more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to Malcolm Kelly and Dane Zaslaw respectively to turn the game into a rout. Oklahoma also added a late score on a 61-yardtouchdown pass from backup QB Joey Halzle to WR Adron Tennell. Miami had been through some big losses before, such as 2005's 40-3 Peach Bowl loss to LSU, or 2006's 31-7 loss to Louisville, but this loss above all others proved to a fanbase and a nation that Miami simply didn't have the talent anymore to compete at an elite level. Oklahoma would go 10-3 on the year, which included a Big 12 Conference championship and a shocking loss in the Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia. Miami would suffer through perhaps its worst season in 25 years as it went 5-7 in a season that included a 16-13 home loss to N.C. State where Freeman completed 1 of 13 passes and had 3 interceptions, and a 48-0 loss to Virginia.

Oklahoma Offense: This was the best offense in college football last season. (although you'll get some arguments from Florida, Texas, and Texas Tech) Oklahoma scored an astonishing 51.14 points per game, which led the country. Sam Bradford shunned the NFL draft and returns for his third season at QB. His statistics from last season are eye-popping as he threw for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns with just 8 interceptions on the year Simply put, Bradford is everything anyone could ask for in a college QB, and for Miami to have any chance of stopping him, they must put pressure on him consistently similar to the manner in which Florida did so in the BCS National Championship game. Oklahoma was known throughout last season for their air attack, but this is a balanced offense. They return their top three running backs in senior Chris Brown, and juniors DeMarco Murray and Mossis Madu. These three are the same top running backs for Oklahoma as they were in 2007, and much as then barring injury look for Brown and Murray to primarily share the bulk of the workload. Brown is a slashing type of back who is dependable for solid runs throughout the course of a game. Murray is the gamebreaker of the group and could be a threat in the return game as well for the Sooners. As if this weren't enough, OU also has the best tight end in the nation in Jermaine Gresham. Gresham had 950 receiving yards and caught 14 touchdown passes last year for Oklahoma. He's almost certain to be a first round pick in next year's NFL Draft and gives Oklahoma the type of threat at the position the UM fans were accustomed to with players such as Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, and Greg Olsen. There are some questions with this year's Sooner offense however. The main issue could be the fact that Oklahoma lost four starters from last year's dominant offensive line. Only offensive tackle Trent Williams returns in 2009. This will be Oklahoma's first true road game (they play BYU in a neutral-site game in their first game) so it's possible that Miami could take advantage of this group as they try to jell in what should be a hostile atmosphere in Miami. Additionally, Oklahoma loses three of its top receivers in Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson, and Quentin Chaney. Sophomore speed merchant Ryan Broyles will counted on to replace some of the lost production at the position, along with junior Ryan Caleb among others. It's also possible that Murray or Madu will also spread out wide in some instances also. In short, Oklahoma's offense may take a very, very small step backwards in 2009 given that they've lost 6 offensive starters, but they should remain one of the top offenses in all of college football.

Oklahoma Defense: One of the knocks against Oklahoma last year was with regards to their defense. The perception of Oklahoma was that its outstanding offense was able to overcome an average defense. Statistically, those perceptions were accurate as Oklahoma finished 68th in total defense and 58th in scoring defense out of 119 Division I teams last year. However, statistics don't tell the whole story in this case, as the Oklahoma defense clearly stepped up in a big way towards the end of the season last year. They held the mighty Texas Tech offense and a potent Missouri attack to 21 points each in their meetings, and held Florida to its lowest point total of the year in its BCS National Championship game defeat. The defense as a whole looks to be stronger this year with 9 starters returning. The defensive line looks outstanding with All Big-12 junior DT Gerald McCoy the most heralded of the bunch. He looks to possibly be a top-10 pick in next year's NFL Draft. All-Big 12 defensive end Jeremy Beal returns as do Auston English and Adrian Taylor at DE and DT respectively. Senior DT DeMarcus Granger and sophomore DE Frank Alexander help gives the Sooners good depth along the line as well. Ryan Reynolds is perhaps the key to the linebacking corps. His injury in last year's game with Texas may have been one of the main reasons why the Longhorns came back to defeat the Sooners. He is joined by sophomore All Big-12 performer Travis Lewis and senior Keenan Clayton. Much as there were last season, there are questions in the secondary for Oklahoma. The Sooners finished 99th in the country in pass defense (some of this is a product of the pass-happy Big 12 offenses) and it will be an area of concern again this year especially after losing both starting safeties in FS Landy Holmes and SS Nic Harris. Fortunately for Oklahoma, they return both starting corners including senior All Big-12 performer Dominique Franks to go along with junior CB Brian Jackson. Desmond Jackson will take over at FS while senior Quinton Carter will start at SS. The defense poses a conundrum for Miami. On one hand, the Hurricanes would ideally like to run the football a lot and shorten the game to keep the ball out of the hands of Sam Bradford, but that seems to play into the strength of the OU defense. On the other, Oklahoma's most likely going to be more vulnerable to the pass as they were last year, but Miami does not want to get in a shootout with a team that has the offensive firepower that Oklahoma does.

Oklahoma Special Teams: Sophomore Jimmy Stevens returns for the Sooners after converting 8 of 12 field goals and 94 of 99 extra points last season. He will compete with freshman Tress Way for that spot this year. Way is also expected to handle the punting duties as well this season following the loss to graduation of Mike Knall. Ryan Broyles will likely handle the punt return duties again for Oklahoma after a solid year that included returning a punt for a touchdown last season. DeMarco Murray will once again look to reprise his role as one of the most explosive kick returners in the country a year after he ran 774 yards on 28 kickoff returns. The Sooner kick and punt coverage units are a question mark, and that's something Miami has the ability to take advantage of with Travis Benjamin returning both punts and kicks. In a game where Miami will likely need to score a lot of points to win, special teams could be a big ally for the Hurricanes.

Prediction: Oklahoma will enter this game undefeated after relatively easy wins against BYU, Idaho State, and Tulsa. They'll likely enter the game as the #3 team in the country in the major polls. Miami will enter the game 2-1 with wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech and a loss the previous week at Virginia Tech. They'll come into the game ranked around 20th in the polls. This year's Oklahoma team shapes up slightly different than the 2008 version. This should be a more balanced team with its defense garnering more postiive attention than it did last year. Oklahoma will come out and hit Miami with a quick opening score, but Miami will respond and match the Sooners' output and then some. They'll take a 21-17 lead into the half. However, in the 2nd half the value of Bob Stoops' coaching and the improvement of the Oklahoma defense will bear themselves out. They'll score two touchdowns in the 3rd quarter with one coming off of a Bradford pass to Gresham and the other coming on a long DeMarco Murray run. Miami QB Jacory Harris will bring the Hurricanes to within three early in the 4th quarter with a touchdown pass to Aldarius Johnson and the home crowd will be the louder at this point than at any other point in the team's brief history in Dolphin/Land Shark Stadium. The teams will exchange field goals on their subsequent drives, but Oklahoma will put the game away after a long drive with a short Chris Brown touchdown run to seal the victory. This game in a lot of ways for Miami is very reminiscent of the 1999 game where they hosted #3 Penn State. Although they'll put forward a valiant effort at the end of a brutal four-game stretch to open the year, this is a game that they're simply a year away from winning. Oklahoma will improve to 4-0 on the season and stay at #3 in the major polls. Miami will slip to 2-2 on the year but will just manage to stay in the rankings at around #24 in both major polls. Next week, the Hurricanes finally get a breather of sorts as they'll face the FCS' Florida A&M Rattlers.

Oklahoma 41, Miami 31
 7 years ago '04        #5627
Cap Peeler 7 heat pts
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What does Hurricanes head football coach Randy Shannon have to do to return in 2010?
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Randy Shannon took over as the head coach at the University of Miami in December 2006. He inherited a very difficult situation created by his predecessor Larry Coker. Once, the Hurricanes were a hungry group that was renowned for producing top-quality NFL talent year after year. However, that's changed in the last few years as the products of Coker's final recruiting classes begin to show. This was personified in April's NFL Draft when Miami's fabled streak of having at least one first-round pick each year came to an end. Additionally, UM only had one player even drafted at all in linebacker Spencer Adkins.

Shannon appears to be on the right track with regards to restoring the talent level at Miami to its past levels. Too often, Coker focused on recruiting the highest-rated players from across the country and foresaking what made the Hurricanes so special -talent from South Florida, and more specifically talent from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Former UM head coach Howard Schnellenberger called it the "State of Miami". While there have been highly-recruited players from other areas of the country that have performed up to par, the recent success this of Hurricanes football was built on players (some of whom weren't that highly regarded such as Johnathan Vilma and Frank Gore) that came from the "State of Miami" that had a desire to play for the Hurricanes.

The first two complete recruiting classes that Shannon has brought in have shown that the coach understands this premise. Players such as Travis Bejamin, Marcus Forston, Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, and others have brought a renewed level of talent and intensity to the program that was missing over the last few years. It's somewhat unfair to all of the upperclassmen of the Hurricanes to generalize, but there was a palpable difference in toughness and raw ability from the players recruited by Shannon as opposed to those recruited by Coker for the most part during the 2008 season.

Randy Shannon has also brought disipline to a program that fans and the school itself can both be proud of. Since his arrival in Coral Gables, only now-former quarterback Robert Marve and practice squad player Brandon Marti were arrested. (Source: miamiherald.com) For comparison's sake, in that same time frame, 15 Florida Gators have been arrested. (Source: allcanes.com) Shannon has also made the team more orderly, and as such as lot of the false bravado displayed in particular by Coker's last team in 2006 against Louisville and in the infamous brawl with FIU has been wiped away.

Shannon is far from immune from criticism however, as his gameday coaching abilities have been less than stellar. There have been several instances of strange coaching including: Passing down 7-0 at Boston College from their own 10 yard-line with less than a minute in the first half, running the ball in their win last season against Wake Forest needlessly despite a kneel down being sufficient for a win, and a horribly mismanaged offensive drive at the end of last year's Emerald Bowl against Cal whereby the offense showed no urgency whatsoever in a situation where it desperately needed to.

It's also yet to be seen whether Randy Shannon can put and keep together a quality coaching staff. The hire of Patrick Nix as offensive coordinator was a poor one, not because Nix was necessarily a bad offensive coordinator, but because Shannon and Nix's philosophies clashed and too often the Hurricanes didn't establish an offensive identity. Tim Walton wasn't up to the task as defensive coordinator in 2007, and Bill Young was a mixed bag in that role in 2008. The peformances of Mark Whipple as offensive coordinator and John Lovett as defensive coordinator in 2009 will say a lot as to whether Shannon is able to put together a quality coaching staff.

So with all these facts in mind, it's fair to say that the Hurricane fan base is split on Randy Shannon's performance as head coach. What isn't clear is whether or not Shannon has a long-term future with the program. This season is probably the make-or-break determinant in that regard. Shannon signed a four-year deal when he took over after the 2006 season. This is year three of that deal. It's very unlikely that UM would allow Randy Shannon to coach next year without a contract extension, so this year's performance whether he gets the contract extension or his removed as head coach at Miami. Below is a listing of what would happen under each performance scenario for UM football this season:

Winning the ACC Championship or better: Randy Shannon would receive a fairly lucrative (by UM standards) multi-year contract extension for leading a still very-young team through an extremely difficult schedule and to their first ACC Championship game. If this were to happen, you could book on Shannon as the long-term head coach at UM. Given the depth of the ACC this year, and the fact that they'd have to win a championship game, this would probably go down as UM's greatest conference championship ever. It's very possible that simply making the ACC championship game would also garner a longer-term contract extension too.

Gator or Chick-fil-A Bowls: For Miami to have qualified for either one fo these bowls would represent solid progress (probably 8 or 9 regular season wins, and perhaps an appearance- albeit in a losing effort- in the ACC Championship game), and this would likely get Shannon an extra year on his contract if not more than that.

Champs Sports or Music City Bowls: The Champs Sports and Music City Bowls would actually represent a step up in the ACC pecking order of bowls for Miami. So long as any appearance in these bowls are accompanied by at least 7 wins, the guess here is that Shannon stays but only signs a one-year contract extension. UM's coach would be under immense pressure to show significant progress in 2010 however.

Emerald Bowl or lesser bowl: This would be a really tough decision for UM given how cost-conscious the athletic department is, but the guess is here is that fan and booster pressure would lead to a dismissal of UM's head coach especially if there were a loss to either UCF or USF as part of such a season. A win over Oklahoma at home and/or a strong finish after a rough start might shift this in Shannon's favor should this scenario occur but the guess here is that Shannon needs to improve on last year, and a repeat trip to the Emerald Bowl or worse will not satisfy UM fans, boosters, or the athletic department.

No bowl game: Randy Shannon is bought out of the final year of his deal regardless of any extenuating circumstances surrounding the season or any standout victories. Shannon will have had two out of three seasons without a bowl trip and will also have a career losing record at UM. Those stats wouldn't be good enough at most BCS schools, much less Miami. Realistically, the Hurricanes would have to completely quit on Shannon and/or they would have to suffer massive injuries for this scenario to occur, although with such a demanding schedule, it isn't completely unthinkable.

In short, this season will have massive repercussions for coach Randy Shannon and the University of Miami for years to come.
 7 years ago '04        #5628
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July 10, 2009
Getting To Nine And Three

The U My season prediction for your Miami Hurricanes in 2009 is nine wins and three loses.

Of course I predicted 9-3 last year and you know how that worked out: Not so good!

Now, with renewed hope and confidence, this is how I think we get to 9-3 in 2009, one game at a time. First up a Labor Day trip to the State Capitol, a visit to Doak Campbell Stadium and a meeting with Head Coach Jimbo Fisher, I mean Bobby Bowden:

Last year the Canes spotted the Seminoles 24 points in the first half before scoring a symbolic field goal just before the half. Miami would come storming back, and we mean this literally based on the fact that they played the second half in a serious rain storm. After the game the field and parking lot were completely flooded. We saw cars, canopies, beer bottles and even some Seminoles in canoes floating away.

UM almost won that game with a furious rally that included a Sean Spence interception return for a TD late in the game. This was one of only four INTs the Canes captured during all of 2008 and one of the few momentum changes that Miami managed in what would end as a disappointing season.

This year UM takes an early lead by throwing the ball all over The Doak as new Offensive Cordinator Mark "Miracle" Whipple and new full-time QB Jacory Harris prove that the ball with pointy ends actually does fly threw the air with the greatest of ease. The Canes talented wide receiver corps run, jump, catch and score on the Noles confused defensive secondary. The Canes then hang on to the lead late with Cooper and James running the ball with effectiveness and efficiency.

New Defensive Coordinator John "Not Lyle" Lovett has spent most of the Summer and Fall pondering how to stop FSU QB Christian "Let's Pray About This" Ponder. Last year the Canes defense, then under the command of Bill "Forever" Young, made Ponder look like a Heisman candidate as he shredded UM using his feet more than hois arm.

Lovett has his troops prepared but not quite ready for prime time in this first game of the 2009 season. What he does have is Bailey and Forston sealing the middle and S Randy Phillips shadowing the FSU QB so the once open scrambling lanes have now suddenly disappeared. Having to throw the ball, Ponder throws two INTs to CB Brandon Harris and Colin McCarthy on a pass to the TE.

The Noles, who are now down to only 2.5 receivers on the team after arrests and suspensions are all calculated, have to rely on their running game. They gain yards and score some points, but never threaten Miami's early lead.
 7 years ago '04        #5629
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Thursday, July 09, 2009
Hurricanes Performing Community Outreach...

Don't expect to see this story on the ESPNews ticker anytime soon. Doing good deeds doesn't make for good headlines. People want drama. Arrests. DUIs. Guns. Thankfully our Florida and Florida State brethren have those bases covered these days.

Down in Coral Gables, Randy Shannon is pressing on with his mission to mold young men, as well as football players.

Throughout the month of July, every football player on Miami's roster will perform community outreach throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

"South Florida is our home," explained Shannon. "This is a way for our players to give back to the community and it allows the football program and the athletic department to say thanks as well."

Team members will host events for youth teams with upwards of 15 to 20 players attending each event. The events are open for kids up to and including the eighth grade. Outreach events will focus on "football and life skills" and will last up to 45 minutes. Click here for a list of the events.

Let this be a reminder to all the feeble-minded idiots who still toss around the 'Thug U' moniker in regards to Miami. That phrase is a good two decades past its expiration date and better suits Urban Meyer and his merry band of hoodlums up in Gainesville.

For those keeping score, it's a solid two dozen arrests on Meyer's watch since 2006 and one for Miami when former quarterback Robert Marve punched a car mirror in Coconut Grove in 2007.
 7 years ago '04        #5630
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Summer Media Day: Veteran Canes talk 2009...
One month from fall ball, the Canes are finally allow to chat up the media regarding the upcoming 2009 football season.

With so much focus on youth, it's no mystery head coach Randy Shannon has focused so much on the leadership he expects out of some returning upperclassmen.

Injuries took their toll last season, forcing freshmen into action and causing young bodies to break down as the season stumbled to a close. Sean Spence early on at Florida wasn't the same #31 at year's end. A long freshman campaign came on the heels of spring ball, early enrollment and a national championship run the previous fall at Miami Northwestern. The lack of down time takes its toll.

The loss of Eric Moncur, Colin McCarthy and Randy Phillips (present in today's media season) took all the leadership away from a young bunch struggling to learn a new system.

For those wondering how the Canes held Tim Tebow in check but allowed Russell Wilson look like a Heisman candidate, that's the difference between September and November when so heavily dependent on true freshman. Injuries and a lack of depth allowed both Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Cal to run roughshod over a depleted bunch.

According to Phillips, Graig Cooper and Jason Fox in today's presser, all of that is a thing of the past. That's what they're saying, at least.

Optimism is a good thing, but after so many recent summers full of false bravado, it's hard to put any weight into those words.

Hearing another crop of Canes talking like it's 1987 after playing like it was 1997, I'm numb to the chatter. I'd rather they say nothing and let their actions do the talking come Labor Day. How much can this program say after a 19-19 run since getting gutted by LSU in Atlanta and without a signature win since?

"One thing I've learned is nobody knows what goes on here and knows how good we are except the guys here. It's up to us to go out and show the world how good we are. I know we're not where we should be," said Jason Fox. "No one respects us, but we were one game away [from the ACC title last year]. This year, I think we're one game better, two games better, three games better. I think we're going to be a lot better."

There could be some truth in Fox's a.ssessment, but this is the seventh straight year we've heard big promises that somehow ended with a thud. Kevin Beard all but guaranteed a return trip to the title game back in 2003, talking about the team's collective hunger after the Fiesta Bowl.

Two lackluster efforts against Virginia Tech and Tennessee over an eight day span derailed those dreams.

Preseason talk a year later, citing Brock Berlin as the next best UM quarterback great. In retrospect, Berlin had a fine career. But following Ken "38-2" Dorsey, anyone was in trouble.

Dan Werner's offense. The Kyle Wright Era. The return of Rich Olson. The dismissal of Larry Coker. Every year new reason for optimism, causing pre-season sound bites such as today's.

I want to believe and a part of me does, but I don't want to hear it. Come fall, show me.

Unlike recent Cane teams, this year's upperclassmen have a better supporting cast and this offense will breathe new life thanks to offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. Depth at running back and receiver. An improved offensive line. A Dorsey-esque quarterback prospect in Jacory Harris - one who finally has the tools, the supporting cast and coordinator behind him.

Phillps, McCarthy and Moncur will anchor a defense that sorely missed their leadership. Conveniently enough, each returning player can anchor their unit - Phillips in the secondary, McCarthy at linebacker and Moncur on the defensive line. Lead by example. Keep the young guys calm. Upperclassmen are like coaches on the field for newbies. Should all three fall into line, the Canes defense could make some serious strides this year.

On the ground, Cooper will finally have a fair shake at becoming a 'next level' guy. Two years straight, the undersized tailback was asked to shoulder a bigger back's burden. With Javarris James sidelined, Cooper's explosiveness wore down after too many carries.

Fast forward a year and you have a healthy JJ, a budding star in freshman Mike James, spring game superstar Damien Berry, upstart Lee Chambers and a potential freshman phenom in Lamar Miller. Coop can finally play the role of feature back as he has enough support should one go down.

I'm not doubting the sentiments of the three who attended today's media event. I hope their instincts are correct and that Miami is going to surprise this year. There's definitely some truth to that and the Canes will make strides in '09. How large remains to be seen.

We just don't need the big talk. The "we come to Miami to win national championships" canned speech. Right now I'd settle for a freakin' win against Georgia Tech. I was dating the last time the Canes beat the Jackets. I'm now five years married and will have a daughter by season's end. How's that for perspective?

Before Foxy drops another sound bite, I'd rather see him channel his inner Brett Romberg. Forget the media. Rally your other linemen, get in the sandpits and push a pick up truck around the Greentree parking lot, like it's 2002 all over again. Reach out to a K.C. Jones or Richard Mercier and let some former greats coach you up.

One month until fall ball, veteran Canes. Use it wisely.
 7 years ago '04        #5631
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Thursday, July 02, 2009
Miami Herald: Barry Jackson talks optimism for Canes
Some good ink in the Miami Herald on Tuesday when Barry Jackson wrote about Randy Shannon's optimism for the 2009 season.

"You will see this team taking the next step," Shannon said. "The Georgia Tech game last year made us grow a lot. That will make us a better team record-wise. We're a lot more talented, have a lot more depth. You don't have to worry about [defensive-line] depth any more. Two years ago, you had only five defensive linemen to play in a game. That alone should tell you how far we've come."

Entering year three of The Shannon Era, the depth is starting to return and with some upgrades at coordinator, many expect for the Canes to begin their climb back. A few reasons for Shannon's optimism:

- Depth At Running Back: Miami has a half dozen solid players and the depth to overcome a slow start by the upperclassmen. "The best guys will play," said Shannon.

- Brandon Washington and Harland Gunn were named two of the most improved players; a bright spot after years of offensive line struggles. Defensive end Adewale Ojomo was also singled out, as were veterans Leonard Hankerson and Randy Phillips. Shannon also called for "big things" from Brandon Harris.

- For those wondering why or if Shannon handcuffed the inexperienced Patrick Nix last year, don't expect the same with Mark Whipple. The new offensive coordinator has been given the green light to spread the ball around and light up scoreboards.

- Jackson mentioned a Shannon quote regarding Glenn Cook's leadership abilities last year and immediately I saw a few message board folk up in arms and missing the point. What Cook lacked on the field, he made up for with his maturity and ability to lead.

The loss of Eric Moncur and Colin McCarthy hurt Miami big time down the stretch and both are back this year, hopefully able to step up and lead. The lack of upperclassmen put too much pressure on last year's first timers. Especially the early enrollees who went straight from fall high school ball to spring practice and then right into their freshman season.

Cook jumped on board as an a.ssistant coach during the 2007 campaign and when healthy again, attempted to jump start 2008 with the "No Excuses" motto and team bracelets. While the result was still a 7-6 campaign, the leadership was a step forward and hopefully someone steps up to carry the torch this year.

- Of the 19 enrollees only 17 made the grade. Offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche is headed to prep school and defensive back Prince Kent is transferring elsewhere, due to academic issues.

- Most exciting in the Jackson piece, Shannon's comments about the current culture being "totally different" - no off-field distractions or arrests putting Miami in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Shannon stated in the past that he had to play the role of hard-ass year one, as the program was broken. Weed out the bad seeds, recruit the right kind of players and with these kids in the regime for two years, it allows more of a hands-off approach year three.

"I approach things differently. I don't have to keep grinding them. The are doing all the right things," said Shannon.

Besides the addition of Whipple as offensive coordinator, the fact Shannon is pulling back is equally as exciting. Expect a looser brand of Miami football come fall, resulting in more wins.

posted by allCanes.com at 3:25 PM 16 Comments
 7 years ago '04        #5632
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Thursday, July 02, 2009
Miami Herald: Barry Jackson talks optimism for Canes
Some good ink in the Miami Herald on Tuesday when Barry Jackson wrote about Randy Shannon's optimism for the 2009 season.

"You will see this team taking the next step," Shannon said. "The Georgia Tech game last year made us grow a lot. That will make us a better team record-wise. We're a lot more talented, have a lot more depth. You don't have to worry about [defensive-line] depth any more. Two years ago, you had only five defensive linemen to play in a game. That alone should tell you how far we've come."

Entering year three of The Shannon Era, the depth is starting to return and with some upgrades at coordinator, many expect for the Canes to begin their climb back. A few reasons for Shannon's optimism:

- Depth At Running Back: Miami has a half dozen solid players and the depth to overcome a slow start by the upperclassmen. "The best guys will play," said Shannon.

- Brandon Washington and Harland Gunn were named two of the most improved players; a bright spot after years of offensive line struggles. Defensive end Adewale Ojomo was also singled out, as were veterans Leonard Hankerson and Randy Phillips. Shannon also called for "big things" from Brandon Harris.

- For those wondering why or if Shannon handcuffed the inexperienced Patrick Nix last year, don't expect the same with Mark Whipple. The new offensive coordinator has been given the green light to spread the ball around and light up scoreboards.

- Jackson mentioned a Shannon quote regarding Glenn Cook's leadership abilities last year and immediately I saw a few message board folk up in arms and missing the point. What Cook lacked on the field, he made up for with his maturity and ability to lead.

The loss of Eric Moncur and Colin McCarthy hurt Miami big time down the stretch and both are back this year, hopefully able to step up and lead. The lack of upperclassmen put too much pressure on last year's first timers. Especially the early enrollees who went straight from fall high school ball to spring practice and then right into their freshman season.

Cook jumped on board as an a.ssistant coach during the 2007 campaign and when healthy again, attempted to jump start 2008 with the "No Excuses" motto and team bracelets. While the result was still a 7-6 campaign, the leadership was a step forward and hopefully someone steps up to carry the torch this year.

- Of the 19 enrollees only 17 made the grade. Offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche is headed to prep school and defensive back Prince Kent is transferring elsewhere, due to academic issues.

- Most exciting in the Jackson piece, Shannon's comments about the current culture being "totally different" - no off-field distractions or arrests putting Miami in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Shannon stated in the past that he had to play the role of hard-ass year one, as the program was broken. Weed out the bad seeds, recruit the right kind of players and with these kids in the regime for two years, it allows more of a hands-off approach year three.

"I approach things differently. I don't have to keep grinding them. The are doing all the right things," said Shannon.

Besides the addition of Whipple as offensive coordinator, the fact Shannon is pulling back is equally as exciting. Expect a looser brand of Miami football come fall, resulting in more wins.

posted by allCanes.com at 3:25 PM 16 Comments
 7 years ago '04        #5633
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Geeks unite. NCAA Football 2010 is a few weeks away. Available on July 14th, it's not a bad way to k!ll some time this summer as we wait for the real thing, come Labor Day. Especially if you're doing that video game thing in high-def. I buy one game a year and this one is it. Checked out some screen shots/videos and I'm already thinking Tallahassee in early September. Can't wait.

I chatted with Evan Rosenfeld of Rakontur Productions yesterday. Evan is one of the guys who worked on the "Cocaine Cowboys" documentary and he's involved with the piece they're doing on the Canes, airing on ESPN early December after the Heisman trophy presentation.

I've read a bit online about this documentary and saw some Miami fans chatting about the intent of this piece. Because ESPN is a.ssociated, many fans a.ssume there's an agenda there and that it will be an anti-Canes piece. According to Evan, nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only is everyone involved with this piece a U of M alumnus, but they're Canes fans as well and they're on a mission to clear the air and paint UM in a good light. Evan talked about wanting future recruits to see this piece, to understand the UM athletics culture and for this documentary to change people's perception of The U.

In an effort to make this a top flight piece, the Rakontur guys are covering all bases and they're putting out a call to Miami fans. If you have any interesting pieces of Hurricanes swag - they'd like to include them in this documentary. Vintage photos from yesteryear. Classic apparel. Memorabilia. The kind of item that would make even the most diehard Cane step back and say, "wow".

If it's a special piece, ESPN might even pay you a licensing fee and/or your name could wind up in the credits.

Any fan with some old school Canes garb, email me and I'll sync you up with Evan. Again, we're talking about something vintage here -- not a ticket stub from the 2001 season. Dig deep, people. Raid your parents' attic. We're talking early 1980s or older. Find it and get it to Evan and the crew.

That sound you just heard was a another state rival arrested for being an idiot. Florida State linebacker Maurice Harris was hit with grand theft auto on Monday. Harris was arrested after he was unable to explain his obtaining a motorcycle with an altered vehicle identification number and improper tag. Whoops. Harris was released on $3,500 bond early Tuesday morning and has since been suspended indefinitely.

I'm not here to throw rocks at these dirty Seminoles or Gators who have been arrested as of late. My issue lies in how these incidents are perceived by the media. Most of this news is swept under the rug. Sportswriters are too enamored with Tim Tebow to call out Urban Meyer for letting players run amok. The Tebow angle is a good subplot for college football and in Tallahassee, no one wants to paint the legendary Bobby Bowden in a poor light.

Andy Staples of CNNSI.com - a Florida grad, ironically enough - chimed in regarding his alma mater and some other SEC programs chock full o' hoodlums:

"The Gainesville Sun dug up some interesting numbers last week. During the same four-year period, Georgia has seen 30 players arrested. Tennessee has seen 21, Florida State 12 and Miami two. Yes, two. That might be the real under-reported story here. Turns out the Hurricanes are some of the NCAA's best citizens -- and that's probably because they know coach Randy Shannon will boot their butts if they misbehave."

If the media wants a real feel-good story this upcoming season, how about making Miami's LACK of arrests front page news? Shannon has turned things around, yet few are giving him the credit... which will most likely be the case until he starts winning ballgames. Meyer gets away with murder because he wins and conversely, Bowden is finally starting to feel some heat because his win-loss record isn't what it once was.

Former Canes running back Charlie Jones shared his thoughts with Shandel Richardson at the Sun Sentinel. Jones defended the 2004-2005 recruiting classes and blamed the decline on the decrease in family atmosphere and pressures that came from losing ballgames.

"When I first came to Miami, I think the coaching was fine," said Jones, rated the nation's No. 5 running back while at South Dade High School. "There was no problem with it. We were learning something new everyday .... "They were always preaching family this and family that, but after coach Coker left, it wasn't a family. Everything changed. A lot of guys felt they were screwed over."

Jones transferred to Memphis after the 2007 season. In one breath he mentions staff turnover as the culprit, but truth be told Jones was frustrated over losing his starting job to freshman Javarris James and losing reps to the other back ups.

"Graig Cooper came to the University of Miami in the spring of 2007, and [the new coaches] put him first on the depth chart the first day of spring practice," Jones said. "Nobody had seen him play. I mean, they had only seen him on film."

This sounds like a case where Charlie should just pipe down, focus on where he's at today and attempt to turn his career around. A highly-touted back coming out of South Dade, Jones never lived up to the hype. His talk of players being "forced out" when Shannon "cleansed" the program. The belief that Shannon "screwed over" a lot of upperclassmen. It all reeks of sour grapes from a player who not only underachieved, but turned tail and left the program.

Truth be told, Jones never had "it". His best year to date was a 507-yard campaign in 2005. Last year at Memphis, Jones ran for 255 yards on 53 carries and had a half dozen touchdowns. His most impressive outing, an 11-carry, 57-yard performance against Nicholls State.

Jones is a 23-year old kid, so I'll cut him some slack here. In time, maybe he'll have a better understanding for how the world works and why certain decisions are made. Right now, it's personal. He came to Miami and left frustrated, unwilling to shoulder any blame and quick to put the onus on a coaching shuffle instead of his lack or results.

Add this to the long list of what went wrong at The U the past few years, leading to the decline. I haven't heard a rant like this since Ryan Clement blamed past Canes for the probation his teams suffered through.
 7 years ago '04        #5634
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Graig Cooper should be the boss in the backfield

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Graig Cooper wants to be UM's next 1,000-yard rusher.

That's the goal the guy wearing No. 2 has set for himself this coming season even though it hasn't happened at the University of Miami since 2002 when another guy who wore No. 2, Willis McGahee, finished fourth in the Heisman voting with 1,753 yards (the most ever in a Canes single season).

Back then, when Miami's offense was humming like a choo-choo train, 1,000-yard backs were the norm. From 1995-02, Danyell Ferguson (1,069 in '95), Edgerrin James (1,098 in '97 and 1,416 in '98), James Jackson (1,006 in '00) and Clinton Portis (1,200 in '01) all hit the four digit mark.

So it crazy to think this team -- in the midst of a 19-19 funk over the past three seasons -- can get back to that in Mark Whipple's new offense this fall? Not at all if you ask coach Randy Shannon. He said he wants to go with one primary running back this season. He believes the team has the depth and experience now where if the primary guy goes down, there won't be a major drop off.

But can Cooper (6-0, 205) take the pounding? Can he carry the the load? Will he really be given that load?

Last year, when James missed four games with a high ankle sprain, Cooper proved he could. Against Texas A&M, North Carolina, FSU and UCF, he ran 64 times for 359 yards and three touchdowns (that includes a six carry, 31-yard effort versus FSU when UM threw nearly every down in the second half). Not a bad stretch.

Unfortunately for Cooper, it didn't last. He carried the ball just 19 times combined his next two games against Duke and Wake Forest. Miami pulled off two wins despite it. But the next two games, Cooper got the ball 39 times against Virginia and Virginia Tech and UM picked up arguably its two biggest wins of the season.

Such was the theme for UM all season. When Cooper was handed the ball at least 15 times a game, UM was usually successful and at its best. The Canes went 4-2 in games Cooper had 15 carries (the losses were to UF and North Carolina).

But when Cooper got the ball a combined just 30 times in UM's last three games, the Canes went 0-3. Before he produced a measly 155 yards in those three games, Cooper might have had a real shot at the 1,000 yard mark had Miami continued to give him the rock. Instead, he shared it with James (who had 29 carries during the stretch) and finished fifth in the ACC in rushing with 841 yards on 171 carries and four touchdowns. Only Boston College freshman Montel Harris (900 yards on 179 carries) produced more rushing yards with fewer touches than Cooper.

Cooper wants to be the man in Miami's backfield this coming season. He just doesn't want to sound greedy. He made every attempt Wednesday to avoid sounding like Keyshawn Johnson.

"We're not worried about trying to be the main guy. We're worried about trying to win, become a team," Cooper said Wednesday. "We let the young guys say some things, correct us. Our pride's not so big that we have to say everything and we have to be the boss. We listen to them too."

But maybe Cooper ought to try being the boss of the backfield. Because when he does touch the ball, good things usually happen. Statistically, nobody at UM has produced more offense than he has the last two seasons. As a freshman and sophomore, he's run for 1,523 yards on 296 career carries. His 29 catches were second on the team last season.

When this football program was thriving earlier this decade, one back usually headlined the show. Portis, McGahee and Frank Gore were all talented enough to be the man in Miami's offense. But only one was usually handed the keys. It didn't sever friendships or make things uncomfortable. The trio stayed friends off the field just fine. But they couldn't stand each other on it. Each of them wanted to be the man. It drove them to becoming better football players. Each is now thriving in the NFL.

When I asked Cooper about the NFL Wednesday he told me he wasn't even thinking about it. "I'm not worried about the draft. I got two years left. I'm just worried about getting this program back to where it used to be,"he said.

Team chemistry is important. I'm not knocking it. But part of what made The U special when it was special was how guys saw college as a stepping stone to achieving their NFL dreams. Cooper should embody that. He's been the best offensive player on this team the past two seasons.

Whether you agree with me or not, he's clearly been head and shoulders better than Baby J since arriving. Yet James, who has run for 100 yards in a game just once since he finished with 802 yards (second-most ever for a true freshman), has continued to take opportunities from Cooper. Since 2007, James has 227 carries and 868 yards (3.8 avg). That's only 69 less carries yet an eye-opening 655 fewer yards.

James may have the NFL pedigree, but even scouts believe Cooper will be the better pro, projecting him as a fourth round pick in 2011 and James -- hampered by injuries the past two seasons -- as a fifth or sixth rounder in 2010 .

So is Shannon serious when he says there will be one primary back this season? There's only one real way to tell. If Cooper has four numbers and a comma next to his season total in December instead of three.
 7 years ago '04        #5635
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Can Georgia Tech stay with Va. Tech in ACC Coastal?

8:08 am July 10, 2009, by Tony Barnhart



Before we break for the weekend, let’s take a look at the ACC’s Coastal Division. Virginia Tech, the defending ACC champion, is everybody’s pick. But I just get the sense that it’s going to be tightly contested race that may go deep into November.

Again, I surveyed the five preseason magazines I use for reference tools and then made my own picks.

Have a great weekend. On Monday we will break down the SEC East.



ACC COASTAL

Athlon: Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Duke

Lindy’s: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia, Duke

Phil Steele: Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia, Duke

Sporting News: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia, Duke

The Kickoff: Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke, Virginia



What we learned: It was a clean sweep for the top spot for Virginia Tech. And that’s understandable. The Hokies return 15 starters (8 offense, 7 defense) from a team that won the ACC championship in what was a major rebuilding year. Georgia Tech was picked second by two magazines, while two others picked North Carolina. Phil Steele is really the only magazine showing Miami some love, putting the Hurricanes at No. 2. Everybody else has Miami fourth in the division. Everybody but The Kickoff had Duke last in the division. But the Blue Devils are going to be better in the second year under David Cutcliffe.



TONY’S PICKS

Virginia Tech: Yes, the Hokies have to go to Georgia Tech on Oct. 17 and anything could happen there. But if QB Tyrod Taylor stays healthy and RB Darren Evans (who set an ACC record with 1,265 rushing yards as a freshman) has another big year, it’s hard to pick against Virginia Tech. We’ll know how good the Hokies are on Sept. 5 when they play Alabama at the Georgia Dome.

Georgia Tech: I think the offense is going to be better—a lot better—in year two under Paul Johnson. QB Josh Nesbitt is going to be more fluid and confident, plus the Yellow Jackets have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to men who can run the ball. And here’s an early tip: Georgia Tech will be able to throw the ball better to keep defenses honest. But I am worried about replacing those three studs on the defensive line. There is talent on The Flats, but Michael Johnson, Darryl Richard, and Vance Walker were grown men. And very talented. With a three-game stretch against Clemson (Sept. 10), at Miami (Sept. 17) and North Carolina (Sept. 26), we’ll find out about the defense.

Miami: Just call it a hunch. The offense should be dramatically improved under new OC Mark Whipple, who will turn QB Jacory Harris into a star. There is plenty of talent at running back and wide receiver. Head coach Randy Shannon has been telling us for two years that 2009 would be the year that he would finally have enough talent in place to compete in this league. After a couple of outstanding recruiting classes, he appears to be right. But the first four games (at Florida State, Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma) are just ridiculous. So it may not be smart to pick the Hurricanes third, but I’m going to do it anyway.

North Carolina: If Butch Davis holds true to form, this should be the year the Tar Heels turn the corner and start looking like a contender. But quarterback T.J. Yates (Pope High School, Marietta) has to stay healthy and he’s had a tough time doing that. I’m also concerned that the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time replacing WR Hakeem Nicks (35 career starts) as their big play guy. The defense, which has been ridiculously young the past two seasons, has finally grown up and will have a bit of a nasty streak.

Virginia: It all comes down to the offense. Former Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon was hired to breathe some life into the unit which was just miserable a year ago. There is a chance that can happen with the return of QB Jameel Sewell, who sat out last season with academic issues. Virginia was 5-7 in 2008 and another losing season will turn up the heat on coach Al Groh.

Duke: This time a year ago coach David Cutcliffe had only a handful of players he felt were capable of playing at the ACC level. After a year of conditioning and coaching, there are considerably more in Durham. The Blue Devils will be able to move the ball thanks to QB Thaddeus Lewis (6,735 career passing yards) and WR Johnny Williams, who had 30 catches as a freshman. Duke has a couple of studs on defense in DT Vince Oghobaase and LB Vincent Rey. They could definitely improve on last year’s 4-8 record.
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NORMAN, Okla. -- SoonerSports.com continues its 2009 football season preview with an in-depth look at Oklahoma's Week 4 meeting with the Miami Hurricanes.

Game Buildup
Two years after renewing their storied rivalry in Norman, the Sooners and Hurricanes meet again. OU is headed back to Miami for the second time in nine months after playing in the national championship game at Land Shark Stadium in January.

Season Outlook
In his third season, head coach Randy Shannon has the Miami program back on the rise.

With a roster full of underclassmen, the Hurricanes put together a 7-6 overall record and advanced to the Emerald Bowl last season. Now they are looking to take another step and compete for a conference championship.

The Hurricanes will be tested early with four straight Top 25 opponents to begin the season, culminating with the matchup against the Sooners.

Player to Watch

Sean Spence | LB | No. 31 | Sophomore
The 2008 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, Sean Spence is in line to be one of Miami's next great defensive studs.

He has the ability to change a game's momentum on any given play. Whether it be a crushing hit in space or blowing up the line of scrimmage, Spence can do it all.

With a game built around speed and tenacity, the Sooners will need to be aware of Spence's location at all times.

Other Key Players

RB Graig Cooper, Jr.
QB Jacory Harris, So.
TE Dedrick Epps, Sr.
DT Marcus Forston, So.
KR Travis Benjamin, So. RB Javarris James, Sr.
LB Colin McCarthy, Jr.
DB Chavez Grant, Sr.
WR Aldarius Johnson, So.
DE Allen Bailey, Jr.
Scouting Miami's Offense
Miami returns a mix of young talent and experienced players at the skill positions.

Jacory Harris, a rangy 6-4 sophomore who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, takes over as the full-time starter at quarterback after splitting time with Robert Marve last season. His primary targets will be sophomores Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier and Travis Benjamin, all who saw significant time as freshman a year ago.

The Hurricanes are blessed with a pair of dynamic running backs in Graig Cooper and Javarris James. These two should look familiar to the Sooners, as they were the same starting tailbacks OU faced when the teams last met in 2007.

Under the direction of new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, look for the Hurricanes to spread the ball around the field to utilize all of their weapons.

Scouting Miami's Defense
When you think Miami defenses of old, naturally you think of speed. That is exactly what the Hurricanes bring to the table in 2009. The linebackers cover a ton of ground, the lineman move like linebackers, and the secondary can simply fly.

Much like the offense, Miami's defensive unit is youthful but features several players who made significant contributions as freshmen. Spence, DT Marcus Forston and DE Marcus Robinson each earned Freshman All-America recognition from various publications a year ago.

Also returning to the lineup is junior LB Colin McCarthy, a team captain who started the first four games last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Senior CB Chavez Grant is the leader of a young Miami secondary.

Game Implications
Given the history between these two tradition-rich programs, this game is a battle for pride. It will be another stiff nonconference test away from home for the Sooners, who look to build some momentum heading into Big 12 play.
 7 years ago '04        #5637
Cap Peeler 7 heat pts
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$12,861 | Props total: 0 0
July 6, 2009 11:05 pm
Score: 151
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NORMAN, Okla. -- SoonerSports.com continues its 2009 football season preview with an in-depth look at Oklahoma's Week 4 meeting with the Miami Hurricanes.

Game Buildup
Two years after renewing their storied rivalry in Norman, the Sooners and Hurricanes meet again. OU is headed back to Miami for the second time in nine months after playing in the national championship game at Land Shark Stadium in January.

Season Outlook
In his third season, head coach Randy Shannon has the Miami program back on the rise.

With a roster full of underclassmen, the Hurricanes put together a 7-6 overall record and advanced to the Emerald Bowl last season. Now they are looking to take another step and compete for a conference championship.

The Hurricanes will be tested early with four straight Top 25 opponents to begin the season, culminating with the matchup against the Sooners.

Player to Watch

Sean Spence | LB | No. 31 | Sophomore
The 2008 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, Sean Spence is in line to be one of Miami's next great defensive studs.

He has the ability to change a game's momentum on any given play. Whether it be a crushing hit in space or blowing up the line of scrimmage, Spence can do it all.

With a game built around speed and tenacity, the Sooners will need to be aware of Spence's location at all times.

Other Key Players

RB Graig Cooper, Jr.
QB Jacory Harris, So.
TE Dedrick Epps, Sr.
DT Marcus Forston, So.
KR Travis Benjamin, So. RB Javarris James, Sr.
LB Colin McCarthy, Jr.
DB Chavez Grant, Sr.
WR Aldarius Johnson, So.
DE Allen Bailey, Jr.
Scouting Miami's Offense
Miami returns a mix of young talent and experienced players at the skill positions.

Jacory Harris, a rangy 6-4 sophomore who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, takes over as the full-time starter at quarterback after splitting time with Robert Marve last season. His primary targets will be sophomores Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier and Travis Benjamin, all who saw significant time as freshman a year ago.

The Hurricanes are blessed with a pair of dynamic running backs in Graig Cooper and Javarris James. These two should look familiar to the Sooners, as they were the same starting tailbacks OU faced when the teams last met in 2007.

Under the direction of new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, look for the Hurricanes to spread the ball around the field to utilize all of their weapons.

Scouting Miami's Defense
When you think Miami defenses of old, naturally you think of speed. That is exactly what the Hurricanes bring to the table in 2009. The linebackers cover a ton of ground, the lineman move like linebackers, and the secondary can simply fly.

Much like the offense, Miami's defensive unit is youthful but features several players who made significant contributions as freshmen. Spence, DT Marcus Forston and DE Marcus Robinson each earned Freshman All-America recognition from various publications a year ago.

Also returning to the lineup is junior LB Colin McCarthy, a team captain who started the first four games last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Senior CB Chavez Grant is the leader of a young Miami secondary.

Game Implications
Given the history between these two tradition-rich programs, this game is a battle for pride. It will be another stiff nonconference test away from home for the Sooners, who look to build some momentum heading into Big 12 play.
 7 years ago '06        #5638
DEDOS 120 heat pts120
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i cant wait for that clemson game too
 7 years ago '05        #5639
Deeangoe 2 heat pts
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whats good cane fam im just about to go pick up ncaa 10 for ps3 right now...if u got a psn hit me up for a game or some s***...my psn = same bx username
 7 years ago '04        #5640
Cap Peeler 7 heat pts
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Top 60 Countdown: No. 40, S Ray Ray Armstrong

As we hit No. 40 on our countdown of the Top 60 players at The U we take a look at freshman safety Aravious Armstrong. Ray Ray (as we’ll refer to him from now on, think Ichiro) was widely considered the best player signed by UM in its 09 class. He’s drawn comparisons to Sean Taylor because of his size and athletic ability. So will Ray Ray live up to the hype? And how much will he exactly be able to help UM this season?

Ray Ray Armstrong is UM's most hyped freshman in the 2009 class. > What we heard about him on Signing Day ‘09: Despite playing for a program at Sanford Seminole that had a history of losing, Ray Ray – with the a.ssistance of UF-bound Andre Debose and fellow UM signee Dyron Dye – helped turn the Seminoles into the Class 6A state champions last year. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Armstrong was often a man among boys on the field at the high school level. And he did it all. He played quarterback (throwing for 1,297 yards and 13 touchdowns), safety (60 tackles, 2 INTs), running back (rushing for 1,044 yards, 19 touchdowns) and had a penchant for making huge plays. He was selected to the Under Armour All-American Game and soared up the recruiting rankings at the end. Rivals.com tabbed him the 13th best player in the country and ESPN had him 21st overall regardless of position. Scout.com rated him the 13th best safety in the country.

> What he's done as a Cane: Nothing yet. He arrived in June and began lifting weights with strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey.

> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: There might not be a freshman on the team with higher expectations than Ray Ray, who has the size and playmaking ability to make an instant impact. Of course, we’ve heard the same things before about other players who didn’t live up to the hype as freshmen. Aren’t we still waiting for Arthur Brown and Allen Bailey to break out? Here is why I feel that won’t be the case with Armstrong. He’s been a flat out star against some of the country’s best athletes. Unlike Brown and Bailey (who were stars out in nowhere Kansas and nowhere Georgia), Armstrong did his damage against the likes of real powerhouses in Florida. The bottomline is there aren’t many kids who can say they were down 21-0 to Miami Northwestern and came back to beat them to win a state title. Only special guys can do that. Armstrong, like the late Taylor who led Gulliver Prep to an improbable state title, has that kind of special written all over him.

Aside from that, there aren’t any safeties on this UM team who can rival Ray Ray’s size. There are some who believe Armstrong might be headed to linebacker because of it. That could happen. But I think his playmaking ability and physical nature will be too much not to have as the last line of defense. This season, I expect him to make his biggest impact on special teams and playing in the rotation at safety. I would not be surprised if he's starting by the end of the season if Vaughn Telemaque or Randy Phillips sputter or go down with injuries. But its the future that is really exciting. In a perfect Canes world, there might not be a scarier down the middle defense in college football in 2010 than Marcus Forston, Sean Spence and Ray Ray Armstrong. Yes, get excited Canes fans. But if you’ve learned anything from the last few seasons – do so with caution.
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