Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Analyzing "The U" Schedule

The switch from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004, has been a nightmare for the Miami Hurricanes. They've posted a sub par record of 21-20 and have failed to claim their first Conference Championship. The closest they came was in 2008 when the Canes were in control of their own destiny: win at Georgia Tech and at North Carolina State and you're in the Conference Championship game.

Last year the Hurricanes were one of, if not the, youngest team in college football. Their inexperience showed mostly in the QB position. Robert Marve was unsure, not confident and made too many mistakes. Jacory Harris was trying to play the role of passer instead of being a play maker. Most of the fault falls down on since-fired offensive coordinator Patrick Nix. His situation play calls were questionable and his players knew it.

Entering the 2009 season, Miami's #1 recruiting class in 2008 has grown and should put fear into their opponents while regaining it's edge. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has replaced Patrick Nix. Defensive coordinator Bill Young left for Oklahoma state and was replaced by John Lovett. Robert Marve transferred out, leaving Jacory Harris as the undisputed #1 Quarterback.

Randy Shannon boosted his team with a top 10 recruiting class this year.

Miami did their part, but the ACC didn't want to cooperate. Miami's first four opponents have given them trouble the last five years and they are projected to be in the top 16 in preseason ranks. Three of their four non-conference games are coming against teams from Florida. Here's a look of what lies ahead.

The Big Four

9/7 @ Florida State University (16th) - The ACC decided it was in the best interest of the Conference to kick off the year on Labor Day with a clash of inter-state rivals. The two teams met on labor day from 2004 to 2006. Miami is 2-3 against FSU since joining the ACC in 2004, with three of the games being decided by three points. Miami and FSU are expected to have another close game. These two are expected to provide another exciting game. This is an instance where the season can be determined by one game's outcome.

9/17 vs. Georgia Tech (14th) - The U has an abysmal 1-4 record versus this division rival. The worst loss came last year when GT's 41-23 whooping cost Miami it's first true shot at the ACC Crown. With QB Josh Nesbitt and RB Johnathan Dwyer returning to run the option offense that racked up 472 rushing yards of the Canes defense last year, expect the Miami staff not to take the 10-day break in between week 1 and 2 lightly.

9/26 @ Virginia Tech (8th) - Miami has not fared any better against the Hokies, posting a 2-3 record since joining the ACC. The U barely squeaked by VT last year, winning by two. The Hokies are returning 9 starters on offense and 8 starters on defense as they look to repeat as ACC Champions and become national title contenders.

10/3 vs. Oklahoma (4th) - What can you say about the Sooners that they haven't proven already. Since 2000, Oklahoma has one National Championship, played in four BCS Chapionship games and won the Big-12 seven times. This will be the second meeting in three years between the two schools. When they meet in 2007, the Sooners toyed with us in a 51-13 rout. Heisman trophy winner, Sam Bradford, is returning for his junior year and is looking for revenge after a bitter loss in the championship game.

The Rest of the Field

10/10 vs. Florida A&M - This is considered a break for Miami after a rough 30 days. The Hurricanes should have no problem putting away FAMU and looking ahead to the following week. Last time the 2 schools meet Miami thrashed them 63-17.

10/17 @ UCF - Miami barely took care of this inter-state foe last year, beating them 20-14. One of the many things the Hurricanes need to get back to doing is taking care of the teams they are supposed to beat, and do it convincingly.

10/24 vs. Clemson - After a two-game hiatus from ACC games, Miami returns home to face cross division rivals, Clemson. They have split their two ACC meetings, with the Canes winning the latter. The Tigers have not been to a major bowl since 1981, when they won the national championship.

10/31 @ Wake Forest - This should be a scary match-up, as the U squares off with the Demon Deacons on Halloween. Wake Forrest is one of two ACC teams that Miami is undefeated against. With the loss of All-Conference CB Alphonso Smith to the NFL Draft, Miami's receivers will try to pull some tricks and receive some treats.

11/7 vs. Virginia - Virginia lost their entire coaching staff, minus their Head Coach, as well as their leading receiver and leading rusher. This is as close to a rebuilding as you can get. The only bright spot was the signing of OL Morgan Moses from Richmond Meadowbrook.

11/14 @ North Carolina - Former Hurricane coach, Butch Davis, has gotten the best of his old team. We repaid the favor this year by taking John Lovett. Maybe this will even things out and settle the score at three games a piece.

11/21 vs. Duke - Note to self: Find something interesting to tell fans about the Duke Football program, besides them being good cheerleaders for Coach K and the basketball team or being
0-4 against Miami.

11/28 @ South Florida - USF started 6-0 and 5-0 the last 2 years, before faltering in the end of each of the seasons. This should fare well for the Canes since it's the last game of the year, but the Bulls are 3-0 against their last 3 ACC opponents and 16-2 against their last 18 non-conference opponents.

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