Like every season, past and present, Hurricane nation expects either a National Title or another failed season. Anything short of not winning the big one has no bearing to the fans.
Miami hasn’t played for a title since 2002 when they were “defeated” by The Ohio State Buckeyes – a game that still sits sour in the mouths of fans and former players. Thanks to Terry Porter and his blown call, the man in stripes cost Miami their sixth National Title in 30 years.
Nevertheless, expecting a National Title this season may be a stretch, can we all agree? I understand that the hardcore have already predicted an undefeated season, but a 7 or 8 win season would be a success in my book. Remember, Miami is a very young team. There remains several question marks at some key positions, including CB, S and LB.
With game day just around the corner, here are some names that you will need to know come Saturday:
QB Stephen Morris, Morris has been named the ‘Canes starter and redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams is listed as his backup. With the departure of senior QB Jacory Harris, Morris will soon understand the pressure that comes along with being the starting QB at the U. According to Morris, his confidence is higher than it has ever been. He spent the spring sidelined due to back surgery and was limited to blowing a whistle and coaching a freshman quarterback each day. As a freshman, Morris threw for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns in just six games. But like Harris, he too was interception prone. Morris threw nine interceptions during his freshman year. In 2011 he went 26 of 37 for 283 yards and two just interceptions. Morris has a cannon for an arm and quick feet. If he can limit his turnovers, look for him to have a strong season.
RB Mike James, I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think that James had what it took to be the go-to-guy in the backfield. To me, Eduardo Clements seemed a better fit. But following fall camp, I can now say that I have bought into the Mike James hype. Seriously, how can you not like the guy? With his charisma, it’s impossible not to root for him. Strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey ranks James with “Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James and Willis McGahee” when it comes to work ethic. Talk about pressure. Due to Lamar Miller receiving the bulk of the carries last season, James started just two games and finished the 2011 season with 275 yards and eight total touchdowns. Expect his stats to make a big jump following this season.
WR Phillip Dorsett, Dorsett is one of, if not the fastest Hurricane on the team. Since his arrival from Miami’s St. Thomas Aquinas, Dorsett has shown coach Golden that he is “smart, tough, [and] disciplined. He plays with energy, studies the playbook.” He may not the biggest guy on the field, but he has managed to quickly catch Golden’s eye. Last year Dorsett saw significant playing time as a receiver, but he also returned kickoffs. Expect to see him returning punts this season.
LB Denzel Perryman, Perryman finished the 2011 season as the ‘Canes leading tackler. Amassing 69 tackles, Perryman has already drawn comparisons to the great Ray Lewis – he even wears his favorite ‘Cane’s number, 52. He earned freshman All-American honors last year and has been asked to fill some big shoes at MLB. With Sean Spence now in the NFL, Perryman has had to transition into the starting role. On top of his 69 tackles, he also nabbed six and a half sacks and a career high 14 tackles vs. Boston College in 2011. To not start Perryman would be like, well, it would just be plain stupid.
DE Anthony Chickillo, Chickillo’s engine never stops. He goes full-steam on every down. However, Golden has said that he would like to Chickillo become more vocal. “He doesn’t have to wait until he’s a senior to be a leader: there are sophomore leaders too.” As a third generation Hurricane, Chickillo made a name for himself during his freshman year. Totaling five sacks, he has bulked up to 265 pounds. He is arguably the best defensive end to line up for the ‘Canes this season.
K Jake Wieclaw, Wieclaw is considered by many to be the best kicker in the ACC – possibly the best kicker in the nation. He has made more than an impression on coach Golden and the senior was the leading point scorer on the team in 2011. Surprised? During a fall scrimmage, Wieclaw hit from 51 and 56 (that’s right, 56) yards away. His 56-yarder was the longest kick he had ever hit in a scrimmage or a game. Wieclaw is no stranger to pressure and says that being under the gun is something that doesn’t bother him. Also, he will be the back up to P Dalton Potts throughout the season.
When: September 1, 3:30 pm.
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA.
Watch: ABC/ESPN 2
Favorite: ‘Canes by 2.5 points
Over/Under: 44 points
Prediction: ‘Canes by a touchdown