CFN: Miami Preview

How patient can Miami be? While there's a good nucleus of players to build around, like RB Javarris James, it could be tempting to throw several true freshmen from this year's great recruiting class to the wolves.

- 2008 CFN Miami Preview | 2008 Miami Offense Preview
2008 Miami Defense Preview | 2008 Miami Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Miami Preview | 2006 CFN Miami Preview 

Head coach: Randy Shannon
2nd year: 5-7
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 28, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Miami Players
1. RB Javarris James, Jr.
2. RB Graig Cooper, Soph.
3. LB Colin McCarthy, Jr.
4. DE Eric Moncur, Sr.
5. OT Jason Fox, Jr.
6. OT Reggie Youngblood, Sr.
7. DT Antonio Dixon, Sr.
8. LB Darryl Sharpton, Jr.
9. S Anthony Reddick, Sr.
10. WR Sam Shields, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Aug. 28 Charleston Southern
Sept. 6 at Florida
Sept. 13  OPEN DATE
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 NC State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
CFN Record: 5

Sept. 1 Marshall W 31-3
Sept. 8 at Oklahoma L 51-13
Sept. 15
FIU W 23-9
Sept. 20 Texas A&M W 34-17
Sept. 29 Duke W 24-14
Oct. 6 at North Carolina L 33-27
Oct. 13 Georgia Tech L 17-14
Oct. 20 at Florida State W 37-29
Nov. 3
NC State L 19-16 OT
Nov. 10 Virginia L 48-0
Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech L 44-14
Nov. 24  at Boston Coll L 28-14

Head coach Randy Shannon got a mulligan for going 5-7 in his first season, but the honeymoon is already over as he turns the corner and begins heading into Year 2. 

The Hurricanes need to develop a consistent playmaker at quarterback and revamp the defense, two areas that never let the program down during the glory days.  Very few positions won’t be open to competition this summer, as Miami begins to infuse parts of its last two recruiting classes into the depth chart.  Shannon built a fortress around Dade County this past February, assembling one of the nation’s best hauls of young talent, but now he and his staff need to prove they can coach as well as they recruit.

Although this latest recruiting class has brought a spark and some rare positive national pub back to the Miami program, it’s not likely to have a profound impact on the Hurricanes’ win total in 2008.  Shannon is likely to get the ‘Canes back to the postseason, but with so much uncertainty on both sides of the ball and a minefield of a schedule, they’ll fall a little short of a Coastal Division crown.                               

What to watch for on offense: The last time Miami started a freshman under center, Bernie Kosar was a teenager on campus in the 1980s.  It’ll happen again this year, as Robert Marve tries to reverse a recent trend of inconsistency at quarterback and a last place ACC finish in passing.  He’ll be surrounded by 10 players with something to prove, particularly RB Javarris James and WR Sam Shields.  James is looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled sophomore season and a drop in production.  Shields has a world-class blend of speed, burst, and leaping ability, but needs to put it all together to finally reach his enormous potential.  

What to watch for on defense: The Cane defense will be looking to rebound from a November collapse that saw it sink to an un-Miami-like 10th place ACC finish in scoring D.  While LB Colin McCarthy and DE Eric Moncur will be the catalysts, new coordinator Bill Young will also be weaving in a handful of younger players, including blue-chip true freshmen Marcus Forston, Arthur Brown, and Sean Spence.  Keep an eye on sophomore DE Allen Bailey, a converted linebacker who has torn it up in the offseason and possesses a ridiculous combination of size, speed, and strength.      

The team will be far better if… Marve doesn’t play like a freshman.  Heck, this is Quarterback U., and it’s about time Miami starts playing like it. The defense will be better and the running game is in good hands, but the Canes can’t afford another season averaging just 169 yards a game through the air. The burden falls on the rookie quarterback and a group of receivers that’s been better in shorts than in pads.                                 
The Schedule: The Canes will know just how much better they've gotten this off-season in a big hurry. After a warm-up against Charleston Southern, road dates at Florida and Texas A&M could either set the tone for the season or show just how far the program still has to go. On the flip side, the big Coastal showdown against Virginia Tech is at home, missing Clemson and Boston College from the Atlantic, and getting Florida State in Miami are all tremendous breaks. Closing up with three road dates (Virginia, Georgia Tech and NC State) in the final four, with the home game against the Hokies, isn't a plus.

Best offensive player: RB Javarris James.  Although James had an off-year as a sophomore, some of the blame goes to a nagging neck injury and suspect blocking up front.  Completely healthy again, he’s poised to return to his freshman form, pounding between the tackles with ferocity and overpowering defensive backs once he gets past the second line of defense.  James spent the past few months working on his speed, delivering the program’s sixth fastest time in off-season testing.                      

Best defensive player
: LB Colin McCarthy.  In just his first season as the starter at strongside, McCarthy established himself as the new star of the Hurricane defense.  The fastest of the linebackers, he cranked out 74 tackles, a dozen tackles for loss, and two sacks, laying the foundation for what’s going to be a breakthrough junior year.   

Key player to a successful season: Marve.  While he doesn’t have to be Jim Kelly right out of the chute, the rookie does need to light a spark under an offense that’s been slipping for years.  If he gives opponents a reason to respect his arm and legs, the backfield combination of James and Graig Cooper will obliterate most ACC defenses.                      

The season will be a success if
... Miami returns to the postseason with no worse than an 8-4 record.  After going 5-7 with a talented team, moral victories will fall on deaf ears this season.  Even with a rookie quarterback, the ‘Canes have enough talent to make last year look like an aberration.  And the schedule is going to cooperate.  After brutal back-to-back road games at Florida and Texas A&M, there isn’t a remaining game that’s not winnable.                   

Key game
: Nov. 13 vs. Virginia Tech.  In a drastically watered-down Coastal Division, this meeting in Miami could decide who plays in the ACC Championship game a few weeks later.  The Hurricanes got hammered by the Hokies last November, but that game was in Blacksburg, and the programs were headed in different directions.  A win here could send a message that Miami is on its way to becoming one of the league powerbrokers.      

2007 Fun Stats

- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 112 - Miami 61
- Third down conversions: Opponents 67 of 174 (39%) - Miami 61 of 167 (31%)
- Orange Bowl capacity: 72,319 - Miami average home attendance 43,576 (60% capacity) Top Stories