Schedule Preview: Miami

The third time wasn't a charm, but Miami head coach Randy Shannon is hoping his fourth try against his former coach and boss Butch Davis will finally secure a win for his Hurricanes on Oct. 23. North Carolina has won four of the last six contests in this series.

Overview: It would be tough to find a more difficult start to a season than what Miami experienced in '09. After a rivalry clash with Florida State on Labor Day weekend, the Hurricanes sandwiched home contests against Georgia Tech and Oklahoma around a trip to Lane Stadium to battle Virginia Tech. Oddly enough, Randy Shannon may possibly top that murderer's row this fall. After a warm-up against Florida A&M, Miami hits the road to play Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson before returning home for its annual clash with Florida State.

That schedule could fluster even the most hard-nosed football programs, but Miami rose to the occasion in '09 by winning three of its first four games. The Hurricanes (9-4, 5-3 ACC) were unable to maintain that level of play for the duration of the season, however, due to a laughably tragic rash of injuries. Ten defensive players missed games against Virginia and North Carolina in November. The remnants of that injury-plagued season will leak into '10 as running back Graig Cooper (695 yards, 4 TD) is recovering from an ACL tear and will be re-evaluated on a week-by-week basis leading up to the season opener.

There is plenty of optimism in Coral Gables after Miami increased its win total from five in '07 to seven in '08 to nine last fall. Shannon, who recently signed a four-year contract extension, returns 13 starters and wealth of talent in his fourth year at the helm. Second-year offensive coordinator Mark Whipple welcomes back the key components of his "Whipple Ball" bonanza that delivered 399.9 yards (45th nationally) and 30.3 points (31st) per game.

Junior quarterback Jacory Harris (242-of-406 passing, 3,352 yards, 24 TD, 17 INT) provides a strong arm with elusive feet, while Travis Benjamin (29 catches, 501 yards, 4 TD), Leonard Hankerson (45 catches, 801 yards, 6 TD) and Aldarius Johnson (16 catches, 276 yards, TD) will serve as one of the top wide receiver units in the ACC. Senior Damien Berry (616 yards, 8 TD) will hold down the tail back spot until Cooper returns to action. If there is a weak spot on offense for Whipple, it's the offensive line that lost three starters, including first-team All-ACC left tackle Jason Fox.

Defensive coordinator John Lovett welcomes back seven starters and '08 freshman All-America Marcus Forston (ankle) at defensive tackle. The Hurricanes finished the '09 campaign ranked 29th nationally in total defense (329.6 ypg) and 37th in scoring defense (22.2 ppg), thanks to an active front seven that averaged 7.1 tackles for loss per outing (T-15th nationally). First-team All-ACC defensive end Allen Bailey (34 tkl, 7 sacks) anchors the defensive line, while first-team All-ACC cornerback Brandon Harris (58 tkl, 15 pbu) highlights the secondary. Colin McCarthy (95 tkl, 9.5 TFL) and Sean Spence (36 tkl, 3 sacks) represent one of the best linebacker duos in the country.

Quotable: "That's why you come to the University of Miami, to play that kind of schedule, to have that type of national spotlight… I said before the [2009] season started, I wouldn't be surprised if we went 4-0 in the first four games. And this year it's the same way. I have all the confidence in the world." – Miami kicker Matt Bosher

Matchup to Watch: North Carolina's defense was content to let Harris (28-of-50 passing, 319 yards, TD, 4 INT) fling the ball all over the field last season, returning the four picks for 214 yards and two touchdowns. The junior quarterback and his stable of wide receivers have another year under their belts, but the offensive line will have to grow up quick in the first half of the season after allowing 2.7 sacks per outing (100th) in '09. Harris was only sacked twice in Chapel Hill last November, but All-American candidate Robert Quinn and his merry band of future NFL draft picks will likely increase the pressure this season in an attempt to replicate the 4-0 turnover margin that led to UNC's 33-24 victory.

Remember Me? Long Beach (Calif.) Poly safety Vaughn Telemaque picked up his first college offer from all the way across the country on July 18, 2007. North Carolina offered the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder along with his teammate, current UNC linebacker Herman Davidson, after learning about the players through wide receivers coach Charlie Williams' ties to the Long Beach area. Telemaque was a relative unknown until the UNC offer, but things changed quickly as National Signing Day approached.

The Long Beach, Calif. native ended his high school career as a top-100 prospect and ultimately selected Miami over a slew of offers that included Southern Cal, Oregon and Michigan. Telemaque qualified for a medical red-shirt during the '08 season after injuring his shoulder, and now enters his second season as the Hurricanes' starting strong safety (48 tkl, 4 pbu).

2010 Schedule
Sept. 2  Florida A&M 
Sept. 11 @ Ohio State
Sept. 18 OPEN DATE
Sept. 23 @ Pittsburgh
Oct. 2   @ Clemson
Oct. 9   Florida State
Oct. 16  @ Duke
Oct. 23  North Carolina
Oct. 30  @ Virginia 
Nov. 6   Maryland
Nov. 13  @ Georgia Tech
Nov. 20  Virginia Tech 
Nov. 27  South Florida

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