By Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: Randy Shannon's Hurricanes once again took a step in the right direction in 2009, as the team posted a 9-4 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in ACC play.
The schedule early on was not easy, as the team faced four straight top-25
teams right out of the gate. To Miami's credit, it went 3-1 in those games,
including knocking off rival Florida State (38-34) and eventual ACC champion
Georgia Tech (33-17) in early September. A loss to Virginia Tech (31-7) would
follow, but the 'Canes won three straight after that to sit at 5-1 midway
through the year. A heart-breaking overtime loss to Clemson (40-37) and a
nine-point setback at North Carolina (33-24) would be the only other losses
during the regular season, as the nine wins were the most for Miami since the
2005 campaign. A third-place finish in the Coastal Division earned the team a
spot in the Champs Sports Bowl, where Miami fell to Big Ten foe Wisconsin
OFFENSE: The Hurricanes showed flashes of explosiveness on the offensive side
of the football last season, averaging 400 yards per game, with a good mix of
the run (138.0 ypg) and the pass (261.9 ypg).
A lot of the success had to do with the play of sophomore QB Jacory Harris,
who completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, for 3,352 yards, with 24 TDs.
The team only has six starters returning on offense, but many of them come at
the skill positions. Harris is back and poised for a big season. It will
certainly help that the team's top five receivers are also back in the mix,
highlighted by Biletnikoff Award candidate Leonard Hankerson (45 receptions,
for 801 yards, six TDs). A lot is expected of juniors Aldarius Johnson (16
catches, 276 yards, one TD) and Travis Benjamin (29 receptions, 501 yards,
four TDs) as well. The rushing attack will feature Damien Berry (616 yards,
6.6 ypc, eight TDs), who will be asked to keep things going while Graig Cooper
(695 yards, 5.2 ypc, six TDs) continues to recover from a nasty knee injury
suffered in Miami's bowl game last year. The offensive line is the biggest
question mark, as three of the five starters from 2009 are gone. The two
returning though, seniors Joel Figueroa (6-5, 330) and Orlando Franklin (6-7,
318) should vie for all-conference honors.
DEFENSE: The Miami defense was solid for the most part in 2009 and with eight
starters returning for the 2010 season, a more consistent effort game-in and
game-out is expected. Three starters return up front, led by All-American
candidate Allen Bailey (6-4, 288), who can play both inside and out. Of
Bailey's 34 tackles last year, seven were sacks, leading the team in that
category. The Hurricanes will also benefit from the return of rush specialist
Adewale Ojomo, who missed the entire 2009 season with a broken jaw. The
linebacking corps will be paced by senior Colin McCarthy (95 tackles, 9.5
TFLs) and junior Sean Spence (36 tackles, three sacks). The secondary returns
three of its four starters, including talented cornerbacks Brandon Harris (58
tackles, 15 PBUs, two INTs) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (30 tackles, one INT).
One key to the play defensively will be leadership according to Shannon, who
has several players that can step up and fill that role.
"Colin McCarthy, Allen Bailey and another young man in Brandon Harris. Those
are the three guys that will lead us in far of communicating and talking."
SPECIAL TEAMS: The kicking game is a one-man job once again in 2010. Senior
Matt Bosher will reprise his roles as both the placekicker and punter. A
First-Team All ACC placekicker and Second-Team punter, Bosher converted an
impressive 14-of-16 field goals last season with a long of 51 yards. He
averaged 42.5 yards per punt and put 23 of his 51 attempts inside the
opposition's 20-yard line.
OUTLOOK: Miami is regarded as one of the teams that could take home the ACC
title this year and with good reason. Shannon continues to rebuild the program
and it won't be long before the team is a perennial national title contender
The preseason hype is not a distraction for Shannon.
"It's great for us. We are really excited about the opportunity to keep
looking forward. We have done a lot of good things since I've been the
football coach. We have won five games, seven and nine. We keep improving
every year. The things we have done off the field has been tremendous and also
academically. It shows how much the guys have put into this program and all
the things we need to get done."
Everyone will get a chance to see just how far this team has come and has to
still go week two with a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State. That game is
followed by another road trip to Pittsburgh. The remainder of the non-
conference slate includes the season-opener against Florida A&M and a regular-
season finale against South Florida. ACC play begins on October 2nd at
Clemson, a third straight road game for the 'Canes. Other road tilts within
conference play come at Duke, at Virginia and at Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes
have a grueling ACC home schedule with Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland
and Virginia Tech all coming to Sun Life Stadium. The Hurricanes have a pretty
tough schedule but if the team survives some early-season battles, it could
propel Miami to a 10+ win campaign, an ACC crown and a BCS bowl berth.