We’re previewing the college football season with help from SBNation.com. Today, The 7th Floor breaks down Miami.
Al Golden drew one of the most difficult schedules in college football this season, including a road schedule that will see the Hurricanes travel to Boston College and Kansas State in the first two weeks of the season. A mid-year three-game stretch includes Notre Dame in Chicago before returning home to host North Carolina and Florida State.
2011 Record: 6-6
2011 Bowl: N/A
2012 Bowl Projections:
Orlando Bowl History:
2009 Champs Sports Bowl vs. Wisconsin, 14-20
Describe the 2011 season in two words.
Disappointing hope. I use those kind of contrasting terms because on one hand, 6-6 is not OK, but on the other it was really better than people expected since Golden was trying to install his system into a team that was 98% not his. The players from the Shannon era were...lazy, for lack of a better word. They showed up and wanted to win, but did not always want to put in the work. Golden was trying to install that work ethic, and it never crossed over into the success that team could have had. What it did do is give us fans a glimpse into what Golden would bring to the team in years to come, and that's where the hope comes in.
What expectations should fans have for Stephen Morris in his first full year as a starter?
To be better than Jacory Harris, plain and simple. No, in all seriousness I don't really feel like fans could have had many expectations from the QB position. Jacory was honestly coddled into starting for so many years that once he left, it was sort of like looking at a room full of people you just met. Morris has a very strong arm, he's more mobile than you might expect, but he never really showed the football I you'd want him to have when he did get to play. Early reports from this year's practices are that he is a completely different guy, and has really taken the team as his own as a leader. I think what we are all looking for out of the position is less costly errors, and more consistency. If you want to throw an interception every game, fine, just do it early and make sure it's a real mistake. Don't force balls into double and triple coverage or assume you can make the deep throw when you can't.
On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?
Half of the Hurricanes' schedule could fall under this label. Kansas State, Notre Dame, FSU, VT, even the Virginia game all appear daunting. If I had to choose, I would have to go with playing ND at Soldier Field over the rest, simply because it is supposed to be a neutral site game, but based on my limited knowledge of geography, I am pretty sure that Chicago is closer to ND than it is to Miami. It's also an old school rivalry game that hasn't been played in a good while (I don't count the random bowl game as renewing a rivalry.) The KSU game will be tough because it is at their place, but the ND game just carries with it that extra oompf. Hopefully we can catch ND in a lull after their first four games and come home with a win. They have to open in Ireland, then romp through Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan, so I think we may catch them napping a bit.
Al Golden’s Temple teams were overachievers, but he’s dealing with a much higher talent level in Miami (even in a rebuilding year). How do you expect that contrast to play out in Year 2?
Overachievers may be a bit harsh. I think it would be hard to take a 1-11 team and turn it around in three years solely on overachieving. The work ethic he installs, the drive in the weight room that he pushes is a big factor in getting guys stronger and more conditions for the rigors of a full CFB season. I was thoroughly excited to see him be the one who got hired, because if he can turn Temple around and get the kind of recruits needed to do so, I assumed he would thrive in South Florida, and he has. He brought in a lot of talent in the half-year of recruiting that he has available after getting hired, which said a lot. The issue was that he was still dealing with someone else's team, and the reality was that it would take a year or two or three before the ball really got going. I think he is in the middle of that now, with the 2012 class and the as-of-now loaded 2013 class. If he can put things together on the field like it seems he will, he could easily turn Miami back into something special.
Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.
This is really a unique answer since Miami is in the position that it currently is with the NCAA looming. The best case scenario is a BCS bowl, but with the youth on the team, it being Golden's second year, and the ridiculous schedule I don't really see that happening. Most likely Miami should be bowl eligible, but will probably forfeit the bowl just as they did last year, in an attempt to soften the blow once the NCAA decides to place their sanctions. Most players and fans don't want to hear that, but that's the reality of the situation. That will give Miami two self-forfeited bowl games, and should help lessen any potential penalties they may get. If lightning strikes twice and they make a BCS bowl, it would be hard for me to think they would turn that down, however. It's all a wait and see sort of thing, of course, but regardless I don't see Miami in a bowl game whether it be by forfeiture or just not being eligible.
Our question for you, Russell Athletic Bowl:
Are the plans for the bowl to feature an ACC/Big East matchup from here on out? If so, does the potential for the Big East to break down in the midst of all the conference realignment worry you? Who would you go after to replace that side of the bowl?
Answered by Director of Digital Media Matt Repchak: Well, the announcement of Mike Aresco as new Big East commissioner should dispel any notion of the Big East simply going away (and in fairness, his hiring came after this question was asked). The Big East is stabilizing after a period of flux, and we expect the next two years of our current agreements to be great, especially in 2013 when new members Boise State, Houston, Memphis, SMU and San Diego State join the party. As for the future of the bowl, don’t read between the lines on this answer but I just don’t know. We alluded to this a bit in the USF preview from last week, but the next contract cycle will bring so much change (starting with the new playoff format) that projecting where we’ll fall in the new bowl landscape would be like throwing darts. We’d absolutely be happy if our current partnerships continued through 2014 and beyond, but we probably won’t have a solid idea of where we stand until a year from now.