June 21, 2008

Coach: Randy Shannon (5-7 in one season) | Staff
In 2007: 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the ACC (fifth in Coastal Division).
Returning starters: Offense: 4. Defense: 4. Special teams: 1 | Depth Chart
Key losses: Offense—G Andrew Bain, WR Darnell Jenkins, WR Lance Leggett, G Derrick Morse, C John Rochford, QB Kyle Wright. Defense—E Calais Campbell, SS Willie Cooper, LB Tavares Gooden, T Teraz McCray, FS Kenny Phillips. Special teams—K Francesco Zampogna.
Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 64th. | Complete Final 2007 Rankings
2008 Breakdown: Offense | Defense | Special teams | Coaching | Schedule | Depth Chart

OFFENSE

THE SCHEME: Miami generally uses a pro set, sprinkling in some three-receiver schemes. At times, UM used both an H-back and a tight end. Patrick Nix is back for his second season as coordinator. Nix was Miami's third coordinator in as many seasons when he arrived last year.

STAR POWER: Miami's plunge into mediocrity the past two seasons can largely be explained by a remarkable absence of star power on this side of the ball. But tailbacks Graig Cooper and Javarris James certainly have the potential to blossom into one of the nation's top tailback tandems. Cooper, a sophomore, rushed for 682 yards and four touchdowns last season. James ran for 802 yards as a freshman two years ago before enduring an injury-riddled sophomore season in which he totaled 582 yards. They should split carries this fall and could combine for 1,500 yards.

IMPACT NEWCOMER: The Hurricanes already know they're going to start a first-year player at quarterback. The only mystery is the identity of that first-year player. Redshirt freshman Robert Marve is competing with true freshmen Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith. In the spring game, Marve – who was Florida's "Mr. Football" in 2006 – was 10 of 22 for 93 yards, Harris 9-for-17 for 64 yards and Smith 1-for-5 for 66 yards.

IT'S HIS TIME: Guard Orlando Franklin performed so well as a freshman that he had beaten out a fifth-year senior for a starting job by the end of last season. He has the most potential of any Miami offensive lineman. If UM's line is going to become solid again, Franklin is going to be the guy most responsible for making it happen.

STRONGEST AREA: Cooper and James give Miami two solid backs who should allow the Hurricanes to run the ball effectively. Each is good enough that they should be able to keep each other fresh without the running game suffering any kind of drop-off.

BIGGEST PROBLEM: Miami will have to run the ball effectively because the passing game has plenty of questions. The 'Canes will have an inexperienced quarterback throwing to a receiving corps that lacks proven playmakers. UM doesn't return anyone who had more than 346 receiving yards last season. The Hurricanes need freshman receivers Aldarius Johnson and Jermaine McKenzie to make immediate contributions.

OVERVIEW: Miami has nowhere to go but up after ranking 102nd in the nation in scoring offense and 111th in total offense last season. But it's tough to imagine the Hurricanes improving too much with a first-year player as their starting quarterback. Miami fans can't expect the passing game to improve much this season. The Hurricanes simply don't have enough experience at quarterback or firepower in the receiving corps. Cooper and James will have to make sure Miami's running game is solid enough to take the pressure off the quarterback.

16

Miami scored 16 or fewer points in each of its final four games last year. The Hurricanes never scored fewer than 18 points in a game while going 35-2 from 2000-02.
GRADE: C-

DEFENSE

THE SCHEME: New coordinator Bill Young, who was at Kansas, runs a 4-3 set.

STAR POWER: Senior end Eric Moncur quietly enjoyed a productive season in 2007. Moncur had six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss despite making just eight starts. He also defended the run well enough to collect 48 overall tackles. Junior linebacker Colin McCarthy also could develop into a star this season after collecting 74 tackles – 12 for loss – last season.

IMPACT NEWCOMER: Miami had such a solid recruiting class that plenty of freshmen could impact the team early. However, the most likely candidate to break through is tackle Marcus Forston. A five-star prospect, Forston enrolled in time for spring practice and made a good first impression. Miami fans also should keep an eye on true freshman Sean Spence, who lined up with the first team at weakside linebacker for much of spring practice. Spence, Forston, Johnson and Harris are among eight players signed from powerhouse Miami Northwestern High.

IT'S HIS TIME: Sophomore Allen Bailey moved from linebacker to end in the offseason and should be a natural fit for his new position. However, he tore a pectoral muscle during offseason workouts. Bailey hopes to be ready in time for the season opener and could develop into an intimidating pass rusher if he can stay healthy. If he's out for an extended time, the line will suffer.

STRONGEST AREA: The return of veterans and an infusion of freshman talent give Miami plenty of depth at linebacker. McCarthy could emerge as Miami's most outstanding defensive player this season. He should get plenty of help from the return of Darryl Sharpton, Glenn Cook and Spencer Adkins. Cook, who has made 14 career starts, returns for a sixth season after missing 2007 with a foot injury. Sharpton started four games and Adkins made five starts last season. Spence and highly touted Arthur Brown could make immediate contributions as true freshmen.

BIGGEST PROBLEM: Line depth was an issue even before Bailey got hurt. The Hurricanes received even more bad news when junior end Courtney Harris injured his Achilles tendon in the first week of June. Harris is likely to miss the season. Miami can't afford any more injuries along the line.

OVERVIEW: Miami's offensive woes last year overshadowed the fact that its defense wasn't nearly as dominant as usual. The Hurricanes ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring defense, and coordinator Tim Walton was dismissed. Young inherits a defense that boasts plenty of young talent, though the Hurricanes lack marquee names on this side of the ball. Miami needs some freshmen to grow up in a hurry, but we simply can't imagine a defense-minded coach such as Randy Shannon allowing his defense to repeat last season's mediocre performance.

GRADE: B

SPECIAL TEAMS

Matt Bosher and true freshman Jake Wieclaw will compete to replace kicker Francesco Zampogna. Even though Miami is breaking in a first-year kicker, the Hurricanes actually may end up with an upgrade. Zampogna and Daren Daly combined to go 13 of 21 on field-goal attempts and just 6-for-11 from at least 30 yards. Bosher averaged 40.2 yards per punt last season, but he could face a challenge this season from true freshman Taylor Cook. UM traditionally boasts explosive kick returners, but the Hurricanes don't know who will handle those duties this season. The Hurricanes ranked 68th in the nation in punt returns and 100th in kickoff returns last season. A team with as much athleticism as Miami needs to create more big plays in its special teams. Cooper is one of many candidates who could add life to the return units.

GRADE: C

COACHING

Shannon endured some growing pains as a first-year head coach last season. He earned a reputation as a master motivator during his six-year reign as Miami's defensive coordinator, but the Hurricanes showed no fire at all while ending the '07 season on a four-game losing streak that included a 48-0 setback to Virginia in their Orange Bowl finale. Shannon should benefit from a year of experience. Young is instituting an attacking style that should pay dividends on defense. He arrives from Kansas, where he helped the Jayhawks rank fourth in the nation in scoring defense and 12th in total defense last season. The other newcomer on Miami's staff is wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, a Miami native – and Florida alum – who replaces Marquis Mosely.

GRADE: C

DATE OPPONENT
Aug. 28 Charleston Southern
Sept. 6 at Florida
Sept. 20 at Texas A&M
Sept. 27 North Carolina
Oct. 4 Florida State
Oct. 11 UCF
Oct. 18 at Duke
Oct. 25 Wake Forest
Nov. 1 at Virginia
Nov. 13 Virginia Tech
Nov. 20 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 29 at N.C. State

SCHEDULE

Miami's new quarterback won't get much of a chance to ease into his new role. After a season-opening cakewalk against Division I-AA Charleston Southern that will serve as UM's first home game in Dolphin Stadium, the Hurricanes have back-to-back road games with Florida and Texas A&M. Miami does benefit from an ACC schedule that includes home games with Florida State and Virginia Tech and avoids preseason conference favorite Clemson. If Miami manages to win one of those early road games, the Hurricanes should have plenty of confidence as they head into a three-game midseason homestand against North Carolina, Florida State and UCF.

OUTLOOK

Miami's outstanding recruiting class could go a long way toward helping the Hurricanes regain their footing as one of the ACC's top programs, but it could take a couple of seasons before they're ready to compete for a conference title. The Coastal Division is so wide open once you get past Virginia Tech that it wouldn't surprise us if the Hurricanes finish second this season. However, we can't imagine they'll beat out the Hokies for the division title. Even though Virginia Tech has to play at Miami this season, the Hurricanes probably don't have enough experience to challenge for a conference championship just yet.

OFFENSE
QB Robert Marve, 6-1/203, R-Fr.
Jacory Harris, 6-4/175, Fr.
RB Javarris James *, 6-0/214, Jr.
Graig Cooper, 6-0/202, Soph.
H-Back Chris Zellner *, 6-2/247, Sr.
WR Jermaine McKenzie, 6-2/173, R-Fr.
Leonard Hankerson, 6-2/218, Soph.
WR Sam Shields, 6-0/180, Jr.
Khalil Jones, 6-2/220, Sr.
TE Dedrick Epps, 6-4/255, Jr.
Richard Gordon, 6-5/260, Jr.
T Jason Fox *, 6-6/306, Jr.
Chris Rutledge, 6-5/314, Sr.
T Reggie Youngblood *, 6-5/312, Sr.
Tyrone Byrd, 6-5/309, Sr.
G Orlando Franklin, 6-7/345, Soph.
Chris Barney, 6-5/340, Jr.
G Joel Figueroa, 6-5/344, Soph.
A.J. Trump, 6-3/308, Jr.
C Xavier Shannon, 6-1/298, Sr.
Tyler Horn, 6-4/295, R-Fr. .
K Matt Bosher, 6-0/195, Soph.
KR TBA
(NOTE: *--denotes returning starter; %--denotes returning starter who has changed positions.)

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@yahoo-inc.com.




 

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