Miami Hurricanes football preview

jdill@bradenton.comAugust 27, 2010 

A look at the 2010 Miami Hurricanes, coached by Randy Shannon

NEEDS A BIG SEASON FROM: Jacory Harris, jr., QB

The Hurricanes have a deep tradition at quarterback. From Jim Kelly to Bernie Kosar to Vinny Testaverde to Ken Dorsey, the U has turned out Heisman Trophy winners and NFL-caliber signal-callers. And so 2010 brings promise that the Canes are back.

They’re back to return to the status of an elite program.

But to be back, Miami will need a huge season from Harris, who had offseason surgery to a torn ligament in his thumb. He’ll need to execute the offense and limit the mistakes.

If he can do that, then the Canes have a good chance to rack up the wins and Harris would etch his name into the pantheon of great quarterbacks to don the orange and green.

Last season, Harris tossed 24 touchdowns and threw for more than 3,300 yards.

That was the good.

The bad?

Harris offset those 24 TD’s with 17 interceptions.

Add in 34 sacks that the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder took in 2009 and it’s easy to see the areas the Canes need to improve on for a run at the program’s first-ever ACC title.

In fact, Harris had multiple touchdown passing games in nine of Miami’s 13 games last year.

Replicate that performance all year long and the Canes will be knocking on the door for their first national title since 2001.

FILLING THE VOID: Richard Gordon, sr., TE

Yet another position Miami has a history of turning guys into bona fide studs at the collegiate and pro level.

This year Gordon takes over for Jimmy Graham, who had the second-most TD receptions in 2009.

The problem, though, is Gordon will have to assert himself rather quick since he has four career receptions.

IMPACT FRESHMAN: Seantrel Henderson, OL

If the sheer size of the Saint Paul, Minn. native (6-foot-8, 301 pounds) doesn’t grab your attention then his talent will.

Henderson is rated the No. 2 prospect in all positions on rivals.com and garners five stars from the recruiting site.

He’s a late addition to the Miami team, having decided to head to the University of Southern California originally. But in the wake of the USC violations, Henderson quickly changed where he’d play college and that decision was Miami, which returns just two starters to the line.

That means Henderson, who led his high school to its second state title ever, will have a shot at making an immediate splash.

COACH QUANDARY: The schedule. After a cupcake home game against Florida A&M to open the season, the Canes travel to Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson before returning home against their archrival Florida State. That’s not an easy path to the ACC title and a BCS bowl bid, and Miami will find out just how good they really are in the first-half of the season.

CAMP STOCK UP: Freshman tailback Storm Johnson enrolled early and is vying for carries in the backfield. And why not? Johnson is a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.

“He’s getting better, a lot better than he was in January,” head coach Randy Shannon told The Miami Herald. “He’s working on kickoff returns and all phases of special teams. But the running back position is very competitive right now. They’re really giving us a great opportunity to evaluate and see who’s going to be the guy.”

DOWN: LaRon Byrd’s leg injury has thinned the deep receiving corps a bit this summer. But the Canes still have a healthy Leonard Hankerson. The senior wide receiver was named to the Biletnkoff Award preseason watch list after a junior campaign that included 45 receptions for 801 yards.

DEEP AT: RB. The Miami backfield is so deep that junior Lee Chambers changed positions to cornerback in an effort to help the club go on a national title run. Senior Graig Cooper led the team with 695 rushing yards in ’09 and is recovering from a knee injury suffered in the Champs Sports Bowl loss to Wisconsin. Despite that possible setback, Damien Berry and Mike James are expected to shoulder the load, while Johnson and fellow freshman Eduardo Clements are ready for their chance to shine.

THIN AT: OL. Never a deep position at Miami, the trend continues in 2010. Henderson is a highly touted recruit, but has zero college experience as the Canes return just two starters to the offensive line. They are Orlando Franklin and Joel Figueroa, but Franklin is moving from guard to tackle.

KEY GAME: Sept. 11 at Ohio State.

Remember the late flag? The one that gave the Buckeyes another crack at forcing overtime, which led to the program’s lone national title in the 2000s?

Yeah, Canes’ fans haven’t either.

Forget that none of the current Miami players were around in 2002, because this game has all the makings of a national title-type contest.

Ohio State has remained a perennial national title contender, while the Canes are trying to regain that lost form.

It’s the second game of the season and it’s at the venerable Horseshoe. It doesn’t get much harder out of the blocks for Canes, which will see just how good they are and whether they’re capable of going on an unbeaten run.

2010 SCHEDULE

Sept. 2 FLORIDA A&M

Sept. 11 at Ohio St.

Sept. 23 at Pittsburgh

Oct. 2 at Clemson

Oct. 9 FLORIDA ST.

Oct. 16 at Duke

Oct. 23 NORTH CAROLINA

Oct. 30 at Virginia

Nov. 6 MARYLAND

Nov. 13 at Georgia Tech

Nov. 20 VIRGINIA TECH

Nov. 27 USF

2009 RESULTS

at Florida State W, 38-34

GEORGIA TECH W, 33-17

At Virginia Tech L, 31-7

OKLAHOMA W, 21-20

FLORIDA A&M W, 48-16

At UCF W, 27-7

CLEMSON L, 40-37

At Wake Forest W, 28-27

VIRGINIA W, 52-17

At North Carolina L, 33-24

DUKE W, 34-16

At South Florida W, 31-10

Wisconsin *L, 20-14

*-Champs Sports Bowl

BY THE NUMBERS:

35 – sacks the offensive line gave up in ’09.

8 – seasons that have passed since the Canes last national title in 2001.

4 – touchdown passes Harris threw in the four losses last season. He had eight INT’s in those games, too.

ON THE WEB: www.bradenton.com/miamihurricanes

HEAD COACH: Randy Shannon, fourth year, 21-17 record.

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