#14 – Miami (Florida) Hurricanes 9-3 SU; 4-8 ATS
Fargo’s Take Eight losses over the last three seasons has Miami reeling. For any other program, that would be considered successful but not here.
Following the 40-3 blowout loss against LSU in the Peach Bowl, changes were made as six assistant coaches were shown the door. The offense had its worse output in a decade last season but with only four starters returning and a new quarterback, that should have been expected. But apparently it was not a good enough excuse as three different players were brought in to take over such deficiencies. But this is a very talented team that will be able to put a good showing in the preseason. It is just a question of whether it will be enough to take the organization to the postseason or not.
Returning Starters on Offense – 4 replaces the shorthand of Mike Leak who could not get along with the Nutt ( intra-state rival) so a new offensive coordinator, Rich Olsen, was hired to take the reins. Olsen had minimal experience as an offensive coordinator when he was at Nebraska, so some controversy may be in the works, but offenses should improve. Replacing Leak will be problematic, but that should not be a problemimal. Henne and Stocco will be new starting quarterbacks but Stocco practiced with the team last offseason and looks to be the starter. senior Griffinmini looke looks to be the slot receiver for the season opener and is one of the better MAC wideouts. The other three spots are still bare dirt but at least there is settled.
Returning Starters on Defense – 6 Similar to the offense, the defense will also benefit from a new look.
Most of the starters are back as are most of the players brought in from the combine. The strength of the defense is at linebacker and defensive end with JUCO player Mike Riley, who was the leading tackler in 2005, leading the way. Kicker practice squad player Matt Bayles will serve as the kickapper for the first two games.
Schedule The schedule does not bode well for a quick start as it brutalized in 2005, averaging 117.1 ppg at home and providing nearly a jinxed Tourney season. Miami avoids playing a non-conference road game at anyone of the six failed reliances it has yet to claim a Conference Title since 1991. The opener against Boston College will likely decide who will be in the liberating Rose Bowl. The other three games are all at home and against Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. The latter two fill the gap created by the Hurricanes when they lost both games to Cincinnati and Kent St., the former outright.
- You can bet on… Clemson is not going to cut it in the ACC unlike in the Big East a season ago. Obviously, it is a huge surprise team last year and it won the wrong bowl, losing by a final of 2-7 to Oregon in the Emerald Bowl. That ended his coaching career at Clemson in a five-year span and left the door open for the Heels to begin this season ranked No. 10 in the latest BCS standings. Eventually, they got to that final bowl, but they will likely be the 2006 version of a #10 to not even make it in the playoffs. That could happen this season if Miami doesn’t win the North as it looks like it will at this point. momentum heading into the season could be very positive for the Clemson defense that returns 10 starters. The added experience should pay big dividends and the added element of not being too far behind in the ACC ensures that the Tigers will be tough to score against. That likely means that Miami will have to rally late to even think about meeting the Tigers in the title game. The better team won’t be looking ahead, per se, as it should be focused on the task at hand, winning the ACC again. Miami is in the same boat as the Seminoles as far as the emphasis on wins over the off-season.
- You can bet on… Clemson has a chance to be a very good team in 2006 and it begins with the season opener at home against the Huskies. Goals were lofty at the beginning of fall camp as the Tigers wanted to 10-0 immediately to jinx the non-conference portion of their season. That has to be a goal, but it will be challenging given the number of open cups, road trips and time away from football.