Aug. 10, 2012
By Jon Cooper
2011 Finish: 6-6 (3-5, third in Coastal Division)
Postseason: Withdrew from bowl consideration in response to NCAA inquiry
2012 Prediction: Fifth in Coastal Division
Sept. 1: @Boston College
Sept. 8: @Kansas State
Sept. 15: Bethune Cookman
Sept. 22: @Georgia Tech
Sept. 29: NC State
Oct. 6: Notre Dame*
Oct. 13: North Carolina
Oct. 20: Florida State
Nov. 1: Virginia Tech
Nov. 10: @Virginia
Nov. 17: USF
Nov. 24: @Duke
* To be played at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.
Who’s Back: Offensively, Miami will have an adjustment period, as they’ll return only four starters from 2011. The Hurricanes will break in a new quarterback, a new starting running back, two new starting receivers and half of the offensive line. The leading receivers coming back are junior WR Allen Hurns and redshirt-sophomore tight end Clive Walford, who ranked third and fourth in receiving yards last season. Up front, the right side of the line, right tackle Jon Feliciano and right guard Brandon Linder, are back. The defense also will have a bunch of new faces, looking to replace five starters. Sophomore DE Anthony Chickillo and LB Denzel Perryman are the key returnees. Special teams is the most stable area on the team, as senior PK Jake Wieclaw and sophomore punter Dalton Botts both return.
Who’s Gone: The ‘Canes lost 12 starters, seven on offense and five on defense. Included in the losses is their entire array of skill players, starting with quarterback Jacory Harris, leading rusher Lamar Miller and top receivers Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter. Up front they must replace the entire left side with the departure of LT Brandon Washington and LG Harland Gunn as well as center Tyler Horn. On defense, the ‘Canes will be without two of their top three tacklers from last season, in LB Sean Spence and safety Jo Jo Nicolas. They’ll also miss DE Marcus Robinson and DT Adewale Ojomo up front and CB Mike Williams in the secondary. The dismissal of safety Ray-Ray Armstrong also hurts.
The Last Time We Met: No. 20 Georgia Tech managed only 211 yards in falling to Miami, 24-7, on Oct. 22, 2011 at Sun Life Stadium. Tech hurt itself with turnovers as an early interception led to a 12-play, 46-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. In the second quarter a misplayed punt was recovered in the end zone putting the Yellow Jackets down 14-0. Tevin Washington, who led Tech with 36 yards rushing on 20 carries, capped off a 20-play, 92-yard drive with a one-yard run with 1:02 left in the half, but Miami came right back. The ‘Canes returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards, hit a 32-yard first-down completion and scored a touchdown with 25 seconds left and a 21-7 deficit that was too much to overcome. After the Jackets’ opening drive of the third quarter stalled at the Miami 32, Tech never got going again offensively.
All-Time Series: Tech leads 10-7 (8-3 at Bobby Dodd Stadium)
Five Things To Know About Miami:
Replacing quarterback Jacory Harris and running back Lamar Miller is a massive undertaking for Miami. So who will head coach Al Golden be counting on to fill those gaping holes? The quarterback battle shapes up between junior Stephen Morris and redshirt-sophomore and Memphis transfer Ryan Williams. Morris completed 26 of 37 attempts (a 70.3 completion rate) last season for 283 yards. He did not throw a TD pass while throwing two interceptions. Williams threw for 2,075 yards and 13 touchdowns (against 10 interceptions) in 2010, completing 165 of 290 passes (56.9 percent completion rate). At running back, senior Mike James has the inside track. He ran for 275 yards on 72 carries (3.8 ypc), but made those carries count, as he scored seven times. Junior Eduardo Clements (82 yards on 15 carries with a TD), also will compete for playing time.
While the Hurricanes finished 2011 at 6-6, they certainly could have finished with a better fate. Miami lost their six games by a total of 33 points, a 5.5 ppg average. The most lopsided loss of the year was an eight-point loss, 32-24, at Maryland to open that season. That game saw the ‘Canes play without eight key players, who were suspended.
Miami rides a three-game winning streak over Georgia Tech into this year’s match-up, its longest in the series. In addition to trying to extend their series-high winning streak, the Hurricanes will attempt to win back-to-back games at Bobby Dodd Stadium. That is something the ‘Canes, who won 36-10 in 2010, have never done in the 17-game series with Tech that began in 1955 and became an annual renewal in 2004, when the ‘Canes joined the ACC.
The Hurricanes’ defense was a strength in 2011 and has a young, solid base in a pair of sophomores, linebacker Denzel Perryman (69, 47 solo), and defensive linemen Anthony Chickillo. Perryman led all freshman tacklers in the ACC in 2011, with 5.8 stops per game, and was named First-Team Freshman All-America, while Chickillo tied for the team lead with 5.0 sacks, was Second-Team Freshman All-America.
Miami, which lost 25 seniors from last year’s squad, actually began its building process last season. The ‘Canes saw 27 players make their collegiate debuts, with 16 of them making their first college starts. They’ll be bringing in plenty more young talent in 2012, and some good talent. Their recruiting class was ranked in the top 10 in the nation by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com.