2010 Football Season Preview: Miami


by - Senior Writer -
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Jacory Harris threw for 3,352 yards and 24 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, but he was also intercepted a league-high 17 times. (Photos: Icon/SMI)

CLEMSON – Get your tickets for this one as soon as possible.

If you don’t buy season tickets then get the tickets to Miami at Clemson, slated for October 2nd, as soon as the tickets go on sale, because if history tells anything about this contest, it’s that it is going to be wildly entertaining and a nail-biter. And will go into overtime.

Sounds like a perfect way to spend an early fall afternoon to me.

Go back to 2004, when Clemson traveled to Miami and came away with a 24-17 overtime thriller over the Canes. In 2005, Miami traveled to Clemson and returned the favor, the No. 13 Canes escaping Death Valley with a 36-30 win over the 20th-ranked Tigers in three overtimes and still one of the top two loudest games I’ve ever attended.

Fast forward to last season, when the teams renewed their acquaintances, and Kyle Parker’s late touchdown pass to Jacoby Ford enabled Clemson to leave Miami with a 40-37, overtime win over the Canes. So yeah, this could be pretty special as well.

Both teams will be coming off of a rest – Clemson off of a bye week after the game at Auburn, while the Hurricanes will have a nine-day hiatus in between games, playing at Pitt on a Thursday night to cap a three-game stretch to open the season against Florida A&M, Ohio St. and the Panthers.

The Canes won nine games last season under head coach Randy Shannon, and have the talent to be a Top 10 team. The big question for this season is – can they take the next step under the leadership of quarterback Jacory Harris, who is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender?

OFFENSE

Harris is a dynamic playmaker, throwing for 3,352 yards and 24 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, but he was also intercepted a league-high 17 times. He played much of the season with a hurt thumb on his throwing hand, and the feeling around Coral Gables is that off-season surgery to repair the thumb will help cut down on his turnovers.

The Canes are also implementing more of a West Coast style of offense in order to try and eliminate some of Harris’ mistakes.

Harris’ favorite receiving target will be senior Leonard Hankerson, who caught 45 passes for 801 yards and six touchdowns last season. Hankerson is just one of a deep group of receivers, however, with LaRon Byrd (33-460-1), Travis Benjamin (29-501-4) and Aldarius Johnson (16-276) giving Harris a talented quartet of receivers to throw to.

MIAMI HURRICANES

LOCATION: Coral Gables, FL FOUNDED: 1925 ENROLLMENT: 15,280 CONFERENCE: ACC NICKNAME: Hurricanes STADIUM: Sun-Life Stadium CAPACITY: 74,916 HEAD COACH: Randy Shannon RECORD: 20-15 in three seasons at Miami OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Mark Whipple DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: John Lovett

The biggest question of the receiving unit is at tight end, where Richard Gordon has the most experience, but he has only four career catches.

Running back Javarris James is gone and Graig Cooper suffered a major knee injury against Wisconsin in the bowl game, so the ground duties are turned over to senior Damien Berry.

Berry had 93 carries last season and averages 6.6 yards per carry, and he is a big bruising back who likes to break tackles. Mike James [another physical runner], Lamar Miller and Storm Johnson will all also vie for playing time.

The offensive line will try to replace three starters from last season - tackles Jason Fox and Matt Pipho, and center A.J. Trump. Orlando Franklin and Joel Figueroa are the two returning starters, but Franklin will be learning a new position as he moves from guard to tackle.

DEFENSE


The defense was not spectacular last season, but it wasn’t bad either – finishing 37th nationally in scoring defense (22.2 ppg), 32nd in rushing defense (122.3 ypg) and 43rd in passing defense (261.9 ypg).


Clemson cornerback Chris Chancellor (6) pursues Miami running back Damien Berry (20) in Clemson's 40-37 overtime victory last season.

The biggest loss for the defense is middle linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who tallied 106 tackles last season. He will be replaced in the middle of the Cane defense by senior Colin McCarthy, who moves over his outside spot. Sean Spence will man one outside spot, while the other is still up for grabs. McCarthy could move back to the outside if Kylan Robinson proves he can handle the middle during the fall.

The good news for the defensive line is that six different players have started at least one game at defensive end. Senior Allen Bailey led the defense with seven sacks last season, and Josh Holmes, Micanor Regis and Curtis Porter are all solid players along the defensive front.

The strongest unit on the defense is the secondary, which is led by All-Atlantic Coast Conference junior cornerback Brandon Harris, who is coming off of a year in which he led the team in passes broken up with 15. He also had two interceptions and 58 tackles, and teams with senior DeMarcus Van Dyke to give Miami a solid corner tandem.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Matt Bosher does everything related to kicking for the Canes – he punts, he kicks field goals and he handles the kickoffs. He hit 14-of-16 field goals last season, hit all 50 of his extra point attempts and averaged a solid 42.5 yards per punt. James, Benjamin and Thearon Collier all will handle the return duties.





2010 Miami Football Schedule


Sept. 2................................Florida A&M


Sept. 11 ..............................at Ohio State


Sept. 23 ........ at Pittsburgh (ESPN), 7:30 pm


Oct. 2 ................................at Clemson


Oct. 9 ................................Florida State


Oct. 16 ...............................at Duke


Oct. 23 ...............................North Carolina


Oct. 30 ...............................at Virginia


Nov. 6 ................................Maryland


Nov. 13 ...............................at Georgia Tech


Nov. 20 ...............................Virginia Tech


Nov. 27 ...............................South Florida


Other 2010 Season Previews (Click logo to view)




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