|Aug. 28||CHARLESTON SOUTHERN|
|Sept. 20||@Texas A&M|
|Sept. 27||NORTH CAROLINA|
|Oct. 4||FLORIDA STATE|
|Oct. 25||WAKE FOREST|
|Nov. 13||VIRGINIA TECH|
|Nov. 20||@Georgia Tech|
|Nov. 29||@N.C. State|
2007 Results: 5-7 overall, 2-6 ACC (5th Coastal Division)
Offense: Gone are quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman, who regressed badly (right along with the program) over the last three seasons. Taking their place under center most likely falls to either redshirt freshman Robert Marve or true frosh Jacoby Harris. And, in case you're wondering, the third and fourth string QBs are freshmen as well, which has to be some sort of record....four QBs on a roster, 0 career snaps among them. The running attack returns it's top four rushers from 2007 with Javarris James leading the pack. The receiving corps will likely be dependent on the youth movement, with junior Sam Shields (disappointing so far in his career) being the only upperclassman expected to contribute much in this department. The offensive line, reeling from woeful performances in '06 and '07, returns just one true starter but several others with starts here and there over the last few years. In summary, the Miami offense in 2008 is short on experience, long on young talent, and a complete mystery in terms of forecasting how they'll perform.
Defense: For a program accustomed to finishing in the Top 10 in total defense most years, last year's 33rd rated finish was cause for a pink slip for former defensive coordinator Tim Walton after just one season. Moreso than the overall slip on defense in 2007, the complete disasters on that side of the ball in nationally televised games against Oklahoma (51 points allowed), Virginia (48 points), and Virginia Tech (44 points) may have been a good reason for the change. So, for the third time in three years, a new face sports the title of DC in Coral Gables, and that face belongs to Bill Young, fresh off leading the 12th rated total defense at Kansas in 2007. As for the talent Young is to guide, it is very young and very green. Just a handful of starters return from last year's un-"U" like unit, and it's a mystery as to how quickly that young and inexperienced talent adapts to yet another new DC. If you're looking for a breakout star for the Canes on this side of the ball, look no further than linebacker Colin McCarthy, the team's top returning tackler.
Special Teams: Aside from the loss of kickers Francisco Zapogna and Darren Daly, the main cogs of this unit return. Punter Matt Bosher, shaky early in 2007, improved as the season went on. Leading returners Graig Cooper and Ryan Hill are back, although Cooper only averaged 4.8 yards per punt return last year. This is a middle-of-the-road unit as far as the ACC goes.
Coaching: Stability in this department is something that hasn't been seen in Coral Gables in a while, as Miami enters the season with it's third defensive coordinator in as many years, whereas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Patrick Nix is a wily veteran of the staff, returning for a second year after a disastrous 2007. A cause for concern with Nix is that in 5 seasons as a QB coach, all of his main pupils regressed (Reggie Ball and Taylor Bennett at Georgia Tech, Wright and Freeman at Miami). Head coach Randy Shannon had a tough first season in 2007, as the Canes limped to the finish, losing 6 of their last 7 games and the last three in blowout fashion. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to right the ship. What he can do is recruit, and his first two classes will be thrown into the fire in 2008, given all the personnel shortcomings on the team.
Odds & Ends: As mentioned above, the Canes lost six of their last seven games last season; the one victory? At Florida State....Miami's 16-16 ACC record since starting league play in 2004 is tied for 6th overall in the conference over those 4 seasons.....the Canes lost three games by 30 or more points last season; prior to 2007, their three most recent losses by 30 or more points were to LSU in 2005, Virginia Tech in 1999 and Syracuse in 1998
Schedule Analysis: The Good: a cozy opener at home with Charleston Southern so the kids can ease into the season. The Bad: six road games on the slate (every other ACC school has just four or five). The Ugly: @Florida, @Texas A&M, UNC, FSU, UCF all in a row over a span of six weeks starting in week two. All of those games are losable in a good year, but that stretch coming so early with such an inexperienced young squad spells something like a 2-4 or 3-3 start at best. The Canes close the year with two Thursday Night match-ups with the Techs, then a road trip to NC State. Only road trips to Duke and Virginia appear like sure things. Boston College, Clemson and Maryland are absent from this year's slate.
Projected Wins: Charleston Southern, UCF, @Duke
Projected Losses: @Florida, @Texas A&M, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, @NC State
Toss-Ups: North Carolina, Florida State, @Virginia, @Georgia Tech
Primo Hurricane Blogs: Canes Rising, Hall of Canes
A lot of this would be helpful in 2008