HERALD'S FORECAST: 8-4, bowl appearance
Last year's 6-6 campaign was expected under new coach Al Golden. After dismissing a problem player in Armstrong earlier, Golden's group should be better with another year in his system. The fresh crop of stud recruits like Johnson and Howard arms Golden with a magical freshman class. However, those guys are still freshman and the Hurricanes aren't quite ready to rejoin college football's elite. Perhaps in a couple seasons, but for now a modest 8-4 improvement earns Miami a bowl appearance and another step in the right direction.
NEEDS A BIG SEASON FROM: Seantrel Henderson, junior, offensive line
For head coach Al Golden to reinvigorate the "U" as a national power, the Hurricanes have to start by featuring talented players that stay out of trouble off the field.
Never miss a local story.
One of those talented guys is already gone. Ray-Ray Armstrong, a former five-star recruit, was dismissed earlier this year.
The next problem player for Golden's staff is Seantrel Henderson.
He's had off-the-field issues and most recently was involved in a car accident after running a red light, according to The Miami Herald.
The junior offensive lineman oozes talent, though, and is necessary for the Canes to continue rebuilding.
Lately, Miami's season has hinged on needing mistake-free football from its quarterback. Jacory Harris has left those keys with Stephen Morris.
The last national title Miami squad (2001 season) possessed a quarterback (Ken Dorsey) who was a field general, who didn't make many mistakes.
But for Morris and the Canes to succeed on offense, it starts with blocking on the line.
And at 6-foot-8 and 340-pounds, Henderson is a big body who can move to thwart blitzes and provide the protection necessary for Morris to run an efficient offense.
But big 'Trel must stay focused and avoid trouble for Miami to have the success the Canes have desperately sought since the last national title team.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Tracy Howard, freshman, defensive back; Duke Johnson, freshman, running back
Area high school football fans should know who Randy "Duke" Johnson is after last fall's Class 5A state semifinal game against Palmetto. The Duke gouged the Tigers for more than 300 rushing yards and carried his Miami Norland side to a state title. He's one of several top recruits in the Hurricanes incoming class, but he's also one that should jockey for playing time right away.
Another one of those is defensive back Tracy Howard, who showcased that skill when he earned a coveted black jersey in an early August practice. The black jerseys signify a player is on the first team. The two are part of the new generation, cut from the Sean Taylor and Frank Gore mold of locals that stayed in Miami.
DEEP AT: Speed
The dominant Miami teams from the early 2000s featured a punishing ground game with a ferocious, hard-hitting defense sprinkled with speed all over the place. The 2012 Miami Hurricanes have speed on the outside. Guys like Brandon McGee (defensive back), Howard and Allen Hurns (wide receiver) should pose issues for the opposition this fall.
THIN AT: Wide Receiver
While the Canes are deep with speed, they lack the experience at wide receiver. Miami lost its top two receivers in Tommy Streeter (46 receptions, 811 yards, eight touchdowns) and Travis Benjamin (609 yards, three TDs). They have players looking to make solid contributions in sophomores Rashawn Scott and Phillip Dorsett as well as a returning Hurns (junior who had offseason shoulder surgery).
Sept. 1 at Boston College*, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Kansas St., 6 p.m.
Sept. 15 BETHUNE-COOKMAN, noon
Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech*, TBA
Sept. 29 N.C. STATE*, TBA
Oct. 6 at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13 NORTH CAROLINA*, TBA
Oct. 20 FLORIDA ST.*, TBA
Nov. 1 VIRGINIA TECH*, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 at Virginia*, TBA
Nov. 17 USF, TBA
Nov. 24 at Duke*, TBA
HOME GAMES IN ALL CAPS
*- Atlantic Coast Conference games.
Oct. 20 vs. Florida State -- This in-state rivalry has often cleared up the national title picture. Lately, it's been just for bragging rights as Florida State and Miami have undergone extensive rebuilding since their time atop the college football hierarchy.
This year, though, marks a chance for Miami to cause pain and agony among the FSU faithful. The Seminoles are ranked No. 7 in Associated Press and USA Today polls and are fully equipped to make a run through the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule and into a BCS bowl.
Miami, though, will do everything it can to wreak havoc on the Seminoles' big plans. The Hurricanes should have a raucous home crowd to pump them up.
2011 RESULTS, 6-6, 3-5 ACC
at Maryland L, 32-24
OHIO ST. W, 24-6
KANSAS ST. L, 28-24
BETHUNE-COOKMAN W, 45-14
at Virginia Tech L, 38-35
at North Carolina W, 30-24
GEORGIA TECH W, 24-7
VIRGINIA L, 28-21
DUKE W, 49-14
at Florida St. L, 23-19
at USF W, 6-3
BOSTON COLLEGE L, 24-17
BY THE NUMBERS
2002 - The last time Miami won the national championship
2 - Consecutive defeats to the Seminoles.
0 - ACC titles the Hurricanes have won
Al Golden, 6-6 at Miami (33-40 overall), second year at Miami (seventh overall)