Part of our Football Countdown is to preview each opponent for the Jackets. You can read the rest of the opponents here.
Last year Miami started the season 7-0, but it was a stretch to truly consider them an elite team. They beat Florida with some huge help from turnovers and squeaked by UNC and Wake Forest (wut?). They then ran in to the Florida State machine, got shown up in prime time, and lost All-World running back Duke Johnson. After that the defense fell apart and the season sort of tumbled out of control. Miami lost three straight after starting with 7 wins, closed with wins over Virginia and Pitt, and then got trounced by Louisville in their Bowl Game. A 9-4 season doesn't sound that bad but I'm sure it was a dissapointment for many Miami fans expecting a big step forward.
Who is Gone?
The biggest name gone is Stephen Morris, who will be missed by opponents more than he will by Miami fans. But Miami loses a contributor at RB, their top WR, two starting OL, four major contributors on the DL, two linebackers, and a safety who played in all 13 games. That is quite a lot of attrition all over the place. But with only 3 players drafted their wasn't a huge exodus in great talent. The hope is that the players replacing everyone can have a similar level of production.
Expected Changes From Last Year:
Besides replacing players and trying to play better I don't know of any major changes for Miami.
Chad Thomas is a 5 star DE and was the 2nd best DE prospect in the country last year according to Rivals. The Hurricanes lose a lot on the defensive line so expect Thomas to get plenty of looks in fall camp, and to really come around once he gets a feel for the position. Miami has plenty of depth at the skill positions so if any freshman are gonna play it will probably one of Chad Thomas, DT Anthony Moten, or OL Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling.
RB - Duke Johnson: Miami's Offense is very talented, or rather has a ton of potential. But it becomes truly great when Duke Johnson is healthy and running. Dude tore us up last year and did that to just about everyone. He isn't very big but he is quick as the dickens and surprisingly hits with a ton of power which makes him tough to bring down. Duke is one of the most exciting players in College Football and I really hope he comes back from injury fully healthy. Of course, he is going to run for somewhere around 200 yards against us, but, such is life.
DE - Anthony Chickillo: This guy almost came to play at Tech but chose Miami late in the recruiting process. He hasn't quite lived up to the recruiting potential and certainly disappears from some games. However, his size (6'4" 277) is tough to combat and he causes enough disruption behind the line. I expect Chickillo to fully grow into his potential as a senior.
LB - Denzel Perryman: Perryman led the team in tackles last year while adding 5 TFL, 1.5 Sacks, 3 Passes Deflected, and a forced fumble. With the loss of two other linebackers Perryman will have to step up and help the younger replacements by making plays.
Miami has some tough road games on it schedule, traveling to Louisville, Nebraska, GT, and VT in it's first 8 games. It ends with three home games but one of those is against FSU. Since no other team in the Coastal Division has really separated itself Miami will compete for the division title. But can we count on their defense to make significant strides from last year? I don't think so. Combine that with breaking in a new quaterback and I wouldn't expect too much from Miami this year.