2011 Miami Hurricanes Football Predictions and ACC Futures Odds
by Alan Matthews - 8/16/2011
Despite being in the most fertile recruiting area in the country, the University of Miami somehow hasn’t been in a BCS bowl since beating Florida State in the Orange Bowl after the 2003 season and hasn’t even won its division in the ACC since arriving in that conference in 2004. Last season the Hurricanes were the preseason ACC favorites thanks largely to having the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2008 under Randy Shannon. But 2010 was a major flop, with UM (7-5) getting pummeled by those hated Seminoles and ending the season on a three-game losing streak, including a bowl blowout to Notre Dame. UM officials saw the last straw in the regular-season finale when the Canes lost at home to unranked South Florida in front of about a one-third full stadium. So Shannon got the axe. Now it’s up to Al Golden to restore the swagger to the “U.”
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Golden’s hiring wasn’t met with that much enthusiasm in South Florida or by former Canes because, let’s face it, hiring a guy from Temple seemed below UM standards. But Golden worked a minor miracle at Temple, lifting an Owls program that was probably one of the five worst in the country when he arrived to records of 9-4 and 8-4 his final two seasons. Now Golden is widely liked because of his engaging personality and the fact he re-established connections with a lot of the powerful Miami-area high school coaches that Shannon had sometimes ignored.
Golden brought a few assistants with him from Temple, including defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. He hired former Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch because Golden wanted a guy with NFL ties and Fisch coached high school in Florida. But his only OC experience was a year at the University of Minnesota. Fisch’s top priority will come at quarterback.
Miami still doesn’t know who its starting QB will be this season, with Golden saying he will make the call on Aug. 22 between senior Jacory Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris. That date is relevant because it’s right after UM’s second scrimmage. So far, reports are that the two are dead even. Harris is maddening because he shows flashes of stardom – he was a Heisman Trophy candidate in heading into 2010 – but makes some wildly bad decisions at times. He has thrown 39 career picks – last year he was 148-for-270 for 1,793 yards, 14 TDs and 15 picks in 10 games. Morris (2-2 as a starter last year) was expected to redshirt until Harris suffered a concussion. He was 82-of-153 for 1,240 yards, seven TDs and nine picks as UM led the nation in throwing interceptions. Miami should have one of the better 1-2 punches at running back in the ACC in Lamar Miller and Mike James. The Canes will miss big-play WR Leonard Hankerson, but Travis Benjamin is back and he’s essentially Devin Hester Jr. (also as a return man). The line should be excellent with four starters back, although tackle Seantrel Henderson’s status for the start of the year is in question after back surgery.
This unit lost a top player from the line, linebackers and secondary to graduation but should be one of the conference’s best again. Miami led the nation in tackles behind the line of scrimmage last season with 8.85 per game. Three of the five Hurricanes who made at least 10 tackles for loss last season return: linebacker Sean Spence, tackle Marcus Forston and end Adewale Ojomo. Forston anchor one of the deepest lines in the nation. Spence could be the best linebacker in the ACC. And Ray-Ray Armstrong is poised to become the latest in a line of elite Miami safeties. Miami does have to break in two new starters at cornerback. Overall seven starters are back. Perhaps no player on this team will be missed more than Matt Bosher – he was a stellar placekicker and punter and made All-ACC in both at least once in his career.
2011 Miami Hurricanes Football Schedule Analysis
UM certainly has one of the more challenging nonconference schedules among BCS schools with only Bethune-Cookman as a layup. Miami gets Ohio State in South Florida and the Buckeyes will still be missing those four suspended starters. Then Kansas State, a bowl team from last year, visits. And in the penultimate regular-season game, UM goes to a South Florida team that beat the Canes last year and should contend for the Big East title. The ACC schedule is rough because one could argue that Miami’s four toughest conference opponents are all road games: Maryland, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State.
2011 Miami Hurricanes BCS and ACC Futures Odds
Miami’s ‘over/under’ win total is 8 on Bodog, while the Canes are 50/1 to win the national title. On WagerWeb, UM is +150 to win the Coastal Division (second to Virginia Tech) and +350 to win the ACC.
2011 Miami Hurricanes Football Predictions
All the reports are that Golden has this team much better organized: turnovers and penalties were prevalent under Shannon. I expect Harris to win the quarterback battle, but it’s almost impossible to know which Jacory shows up on game day. He will win a few games perhaps he shouldn’t, but also likely lose one he shouldn’t. I do believe UM can sweep its home schedule, so that’s six wins. Can it get three more to go ‘over’ that total? I say yes, the Canes win at Maryland, UNC and USF. So 9-3 and 6-2 in the conference. Virginia Tech’s schedule sets up way easier, however, so it’s hard to see the Hokies losing more than once in the ACC. UM will finish second in the Coastal as it did last year.
Doc’s Sports is set to embark on their 40th year in the sports handicapping business this football season. Yes, Doc started the company back in 1971 and still spends his weekends in front of the TV watching numerous games throughout the day. We are again expecting a monster season in college football anchored by our weekly selections from the Big Ten Conference. Our main office is located right in the heart of Big Ten Country and each year we fully expect to hit 2 out of every 3 college football picks we release from this conference. Jump on board now with a full season football picks package from Doc’s Sports!
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