Will: Hurricanes growth the key in 2012

Young team enters season unranked

By Will Manso - Sports Director
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Another college football season is under way, and for the unranked Miami Hurricanes it begins in Boston College.  Ironically, playing BC is the same way UM ended last season, and most Canes fans remember that didn't end too well. 

Miami played a flat, uninspired game against the Eagles at Sun Life Stadium and ended Al Golden's first season as head coach with a disappointing 6-6 record.  But, as the saying goes, that was then, and this is now.

The Canes enter the year with lower expectations from the outside than I can remember in recent history.  Not only is UM unranked, but they didn't even get a single vote for the Top 25.  Simply put, most national "experts" expect the Hurricanes to be pretty bad.  I don't blame them.

This will be one of the youngest teams at Miami in a long time.  Golden said this week as many as 15 true freshmen will get playing time against Boston College.  That's an extremely high number for a school like Miami, especially to open the season in a road conference game.

All that youth and inexperience could likely lead to a slow start to the season for Miami, but unlike the last few years, I actually expect UM to get better as the season progresses.  Golden has now had one season and an entire offseason to implement his style of football.  Like most coaches, he preaches fundamental, mistake-free football.   Basically, he wants the Canes to be disciplined.

Anyone who's seen Miami play for the last few years knows that's been a huge problem.  Penalties, poor clock management, turnovers on offense, lack of turnovers created on defense and flat out dumb plays have been all too prevalent for the Canes.  No matter how much talent you have, that's a perfect formula for failure.

Golden has had the time to try and change that culture and for the players to buy into how important that really is.  I believe you'll see a big improvement in that from the Canes, even though, it won't all happen at once.  Yes, talent is important, and in some areas, Miami is clearly lacking it.  But, don't underestimate how talented this freshmen class can be.

Prized recruits Tracey Howard, Duke Johnson and Deon Bush could all have a big impact on the team this season, and the overall buzz is that this is one of the best recruiting classes at Miami in years.  Trust me, I know we heard this all before with that prized No. 1 class by Randy Shannon that included Jacory Harris and Sean Spence.  That class didn't live up to the hype when it came to wins and losses, but Golden firmly believes he's found the type of players who can help turn this program around.

As for this season, let's not forget Miami is pretty stable at the quarterback position, as long as Stephen Morris stays healthy.  He's been given a clean bill of health after offseason back surgery.  Meantime, on paper, he seems to be lacking playmakers, but Allen Hurns is a solid returning receiver, and a number of young players appear poised to take a big step.  We know the opportunity will be there.

On defense, Miami has some issues in the secondary and with the linebackers.  Trust me, I'm concerned these weaknesses will be exploited by some of the quality teams on UM's schedule.

That takes me back to my original point about my expectations for the season.  Do I expect the Canes to "shock the world" as so many players said in the last few weeks?  Absolutely not.  I do expect, for the first time in years, the Hurricanes to play better in their last few games then they do in their first few.  All I'm looking for is a sign that better times are ahead.  I think all Canes fans would be realistic to feel the same way.

Prediction:  6-6 (regular season)


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