Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2011 SEASON IN REVIEW: The Al Golden era in Coral Gables did not live up to the
hype in its first year. Golden left a Temple program he completely turned
around and was hoping to ride that momentum into the Sunshine State and revive
a stagnant Miami program. However, a rather bland 6-6 finish was the result in
2011, including a mere 3-5 in ACC play, good for only fourth place in the
Of course, Golden was fighting an uphill battle last year, as transgressions
from years past, resulted in suspensions of numerous key contributors early on.
Despite finishing with the requisite six victories for bowl consideration,
Miami took the decision out of anyone else's hands, by denying itself with a
self-imposed bowl ban.
On the field, it was a season of ups and downs. The team opened the 2011
campaign with a 32-24 loss at Maryland, but quickly rebounded by whipping
nationally-ranked Ohio State (24-6). The team followed that with a four-point
loss to Kansas State (28-24), then routed FCS foe Bethune-Cookman (45-14) to
stand at 2-2. A tough road loss at nationally-ranked Virginia Tech (38-35) was
followed by a pair of wins over North Carolina (30-24) and nationally-ranked
Georgia Tech (24-7). The final two victories came against Duke (49-14) and USF
(6-3), but the Hurricanes were unable to hold serve in the ACC, falling to
Virginia (28-21), Florida State (23-19) and Boston College (24-17) in the
second half of the season.
OFFENSE: There will be plenty of fresh faces on the offensive side of the ball
for Miami this season, as Golden must replace seven starters from last year.
Getting the kind of production under center that the team enjoyed with Jacory
Harris won't come easy. Despite some consistency issues at times last year,
Harris leaves ranked second all-time in passing at Miami. Junior Stephen Morris
will get the nod at quarterback in 2012, after playing in five games a year
ago. Memphis transfer Ryan Williams could push for playing time as well.
The biggest void could come in the backfield, where tailback Lamar Miller and
his 1,272 yards are now gone. In limited action last season, Mike James managed
275 yards on 3.8 yards per carry, although he did find the end zone 7 times.
The receiving corps has also been gutted with the loss of Tommy Streeter and
Travis Benjamin. Junior Allen Hurns (6-3, 195) is the top returning pass
catcher after grabbing 31 balls, for 415 yards and four TDs last season. A lot
is expected of youngsters Phillip Dorsett (5-10 sophomore) and Angelo Jean-
Louis (6-0 freshman).
The offensive line is young but full of talent. Heading into the season, it
looks like the starting five could be comprised of three sophomore, one
freshman and one junior. Right guard Brandon Linder (6-6, 312) is the veteran
among the group and could earn all-conference honors. Freshman tackle Ereck
Flowers (6-6, 314) has a chance to make an immediate impact.
DEFENSE: The Miami defense returns six starters from a year ago, but must
replace its heart-and-soul with the departure of linebacker Sean Spence (106
tackles, 11 TFLs in 2011).
Up front, the team looks to a youngster in sophomore end Anthony Chickillo. The
6-4, 260-pounder has All-American talent and hopes to build on a freshman
season in which he posted 38 tackles and a team-high 5 sacks. Another freshman
that made an impact in 2011 was linebacker Denzel Perryman (69 tackles, one
sack) and he will also need to take on a leadership role in 2012.
Golden dismissed talented safety Ray Ray Armstrong in the off-season and also
must find adequate replacements for safety JoJo Nicholas and cornerback Mike
Williams. However, senior safety Vaughn Telemaque (59 tackles, one INT) is back
in the fold and a slew of youngsters will get their chance to shine.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Miami's kicking game is in fine shape with the return of seniors
Jake Wieclaw and Dalton Botts. Wieclaw was a perfect 39-of-39 on PATs a year
ago, while going 11-of-14 on field goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards.
Botts averaged 42.7 yards per punt (second in the ACC), while placing 11 inside
the 20-yard line.
OUTLOOK: Controversy has once again reared its ugly head at Miami, as now it is
Golden's staff which may have been guilty of recruiting violations.
Golden was careful with his approach to answering questions regarding the
"There will be a day when I can refute that or discuss that. I look forward to
that day, now is not the time to do that. I also don't want to lose sight that
the person in that whole deal has not been with us for a year. So, we're not
talking about something that happened yesterday. This is behind us, we are
Despite the outside influences and a slew of youngsters on the roster, Golden
is confident his team can press forward.
"Again, I just hope we have a team that has become internally driven and
intrinsically motivated and doesn't make excuses and doesn't allow that trap
door creep into this building. We're going to keep working until we get that.
Again, ultimately that's my charge as the head coach. That's what I've been
tasked with. And I do that through our staff. I do that through our leadership
and ultimately we choose."
The non-conference schedule consists of home dates against Bethune-Cookman and
USF, but road tilts at Kansas State and Notre Dame seem daunting. The
Hurricanes open up with a pair of road games, traveling to both Boston College
and the aforementioned Wildcats and could find themselves in an early hole.
Other ACC games on the road include treks to Georgia Tech, Virginia and Duke.
Only the game against Blue Devils should ben penciled in as a victory.
The team does get its toughest conference games at home in the form of Florida
State and Virginia Tech, but the team will be an home underdog in both. NC
State and North Carolina will also make appearances at Sun Life Stadium.
Matching last year's six wins won't come easy, as this looks to be another year
in transition for Miami.
The Sports Network