"I felt like last year's team would have given up in the second half, I mean the first half, when things were going wrong if we'd have been behind or something like that," quarterback Jacory Harris said of the 24-17 loss to Boston College that ended the Hurricanes' season. "This year's team were were always going into the half either in a close game or tight game, and we always came out and fought.
"We fought 'till the clock struck zero. That's something that I appreciated about this team. The guys came out and fought every play."
The Hurricanes, who finished with a 3-5 ACC mark, were pretty much in every game, unlike last year when the took a 45-17 beating from Florida State and lost three other games by double digits, including an embarrassing 33-17 performance in the Sun Bowl loss to Notre Dame.
The worst margin of defeat for the Hurricanes in 2011 was the eight-point setback to Maryland in the opener, when they were without eight players because of suspensions.
They were down by 10 points in the closing minutes against Boston College before kicking a late field goal with the hope an onsides kick recovery would give them one last desperate chance at a score.
That made the total margin of the six losses a mere 33 points.
But that doesn't diminish the size of the task at hand for 2012.
"We have a lot of work to do," said coach Al Golden, who has signed a four-year contract extension that is good through the 2019 season. "We know where we are as a team.
"I wish we had won. I'm sure we all do, but we are where we are right now, and we're going to fight out of it. And I'm just glad I have the opportunity to be the guy to lead this program out of it."
GAME OF THE YEAR: Miami 24, Georgia Tech 7 -- Tech came into the game ranked No. 20, but Miami completely throttled the Yellow Jackets. The defense held Tech's option running game to just 134 yards, and though the offense managed only 262, it did enough to keep control of the game. The Hurricanes went to the locker room up 21-7 at halftime and after holding Tech on downs at their 32-yard line on the first series of the second half, didn't allow the Jackets to run more than five plays on any of its four subsequent possessions.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: RB Lamar Miller -- The sophomore finished the year with a 114-yard rushing game against Boston College, giving him 1,272 for the season. His 79-yard run against BC was the longest by a Hurricane in 11 years and the longest against an FBS foe in 13 years.
FAST FORWARD: Coach Al Golden talked about the foundation that has been laid for the future, but the Hurricanes are going to have some work to do for next season. They will have only two quarterbacks on the roster returning, Stephen Morris, who has four career starts (one in 2011), and Ryan Williams, a walk-on who transferred from Memphis. The offensive line loses only two starters (LG Harland Gunn and C Tyler Horn, and replacements must be found on defense for LB Sean Spence, DT Micanor Regis, S JoJo Nicholas, and CB Mike Williams.
RECRUITING TRAIL: By all accounts, Miami has a top-flight recruiting class coming in, led by RB Duke Johnson from Miami Norland High, LB Angelo Jean-Louis from Palm Beach, DE Jelani Hamilton from Fort Lauderdale, OL Ereck Flowers from Miami Norland, and LB Raphael Kirby from Stone Mountain, Ga. The Hurricanes definitely want to add a quarterback to the mix and have three lined up in Gray Crow from Clearwater, Fla., Preston Dewey from Austin, Texas, and David Thompson from Miami.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not going to sit around and sob about the bowl game or this game. We're going to flush it and move on and build a program." -- Coach Al Golden, after the loss to Boston College, which, with the decision to pass up a potential bowl bid, ended the year for the Hurricanes.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2012:
LT Brandon Washigton -- Though he came under some criticism for his play during the season, Washington looks to be the anchor of the offensive line in 2012. He said before the season finale he planned to return for his senior year.
RB Lamar Miller -- Miller said he hasn't made up his mind about the NFL draft. He's a redshirt sophomore who has met the requirements to put his name in, and his stock rose after he ran for 1,272 yards and showed great breakaway speed. He said one reason that would bring him back for 2012 would be if the Hurricanes can compete for conference and national championships.
QB Stephen Morris -- Morris started the opener when Jacory Harris was suspended but played sparingly after that. He did get in some work in special packages against Duke and Florida State late in the season but did not play in the last two games. He finished 26-of-37 passing for 283 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
WR Tommy Streeter -- Virtually ignored for three years, one of them as a redshirt, Streeter became Miami's leading receiver in 2011 with 46 catches for 811 yards and eight touchdowns.
LB Denzel Perryman -- The true freshman was Miami's No. 2 tackler behind Sean Spence, who had 106 stops. Perryman, who had five starts, checked in with 69.
LB Sean Spence -- Spence has good quickness, as evidenced by his 106 tackles in 11 games. But at 6-0, 225, he lacks traditional size for an NFL linebacker.
WR Travis Benjamin -- Benjamin has good speed and was Miami's No. 2 receiver with 41 receptions for 609 yards. He was more consistent as a senior than he was in 2010, always a good sign. His kick return ability adds to his value, though he looks to be no better than a middle-round pick.
DT Micanor Regis -- Regis was suspended for one game after jabbing a North Carolina player in the groin, but ended up leading Miami's linemen in tackles.
--DT Marcus Forston missed most of the season because of a knee injury and, at best, will be limited in the spring.
--OT Seantrel Henderson fought his way back from back surgery only to be knocked out of the finale against Boston College by a knee injury.