Location: Coral Gables, FL
Colors: Green and Orange
2006 Record: 7-6
ACC Record: 3-5 (4th Coastal)
Bowl: MPC Computers Bowl (defeated Nevada 21-20)
2006 Team Averages (Rankings are ACC)
Points: 19.6 (8th)
Total Offense: 313.5 (6th)
Rushing Yards: 116 (6th)
Passing Yards: 197.5 (3rd)
3rd Down Percentage: 35% (7th)
Points: 15.5 (3rd)
Total Defense: 255.5 (2nd)
Rushing Defense: 67.8 (1st)
Pass Yards: 187.7 (5th)
2006 Team Leaders
Kyle Wright 152/250 60.8% 1655 Yds 8 TD 7 Int
Kirby Freeman 59/108 54.6% 872 Yds 7 TD 8 Int
Javarris James 175 Att 802 Yds 4.9 Avg 4 TD
Tyrone Moss 66 Att 255 Yds 4.8 Avg 4 TD
Lance Leggett 38 Rec 584 Yds 15.4 Avg 4 TD
Sam Shields 37 Rec 501 Yds 13.5 Avg 4 TD
Tackles: Jon Beason 76 (51 Solo)
Interceptions: Kenny Phillips 4
9/8 @ Oklahoma
9/15 Florida International
9/20 Texas A&M
10/6 @ UNC
10/13 Georgia Tech
10/20 @ Florida State
11/3 NC State
11/17 @ Va Tech
11/24 @ Boston College
Coming off a dissapointing 7-6 season, the "mighty" hurricanes have some major work to do. First year head coach Randy Shannon hopes to lead his Alma Mater back to being a national powerhouse. He has been quoted saying that he expects his team to not only win the ACC Championship, but to win every game. He has also stripped the player's names off of their jerseys in order to promote a team first attitude. Many people (including myself) felt that Larry Coker inherited his talented teams of 2001-2003. Although Miami is always loaded with speed and talent, Shannon is hardly inheriting a clear cut national title contender. He is putting together an excellent recruiting class for next year, but Miami fans want to win now. I think he has made it clear that he expects nothing less.
Saying that the Miami offense struggled last year is an understatement. Inconsistent QB play, the lack of a consistent running game, and the lack of a goto playmaker were the main issues. Kyle Wright has not lived up to his expecations at QB. The starting job is up for grabs between Wright and Kirby Freeman (who took over at QB for the last four games of last season). Shannon says the starter will not be decided until a week before their season opener. Javarris James looks to improve on a fairly impressive Freshman campaign at RB. The wide receivers lack depth, but Lance Legget and Sam Shields have shown some promise. Miami doesn't have the explosive talent on offense that they have had in the past. They are in desperate need of a playmaker who can make things happen anytime he gets the ball. They failed to return a kick for a touchdown last year, which is very uncharacteristic of the Canes.
The Canes featured the ACC's number 1 rushing defense last season. Although they don't look anything like some of the feared front sevens of the past, they seem to always have enough talent to shut down opponents rushing attacks. Calais Cambell forfeited entering the NFL draft to return for his senior season. He led the ACC last season with 20.5 tackles for a loss, which included 10.5 sacks. The linebackers at the U are always solid, but have been somewhat unimpressive lately. Shannon is looking to field players who will give him the best production, and he has stated clearly that no player's starting job is secure. Kenny Phillips returns at safety after recording 4 interceptions last season, despite missing 3 games due to injury.
Although it wasn't ranked in the top 25 toughest by SI.com, Miami's schedule does not play into their favor this season. They play two solid non-conference opponents in Oklahoma (away) and Texas A&M. Throw in road trips to FSU, BC, and Va Tech and they are looking at a pretty tough schedule. They do get some breaks playing FIU, UVA, Duke, and Marshall. Georgia Tech and a what should be a vastly improved UNC team (with new head coach Butch Davis) are no cake walks either.
In a nutshell
Miami is in unfamiliar territory coming off such a dissapointing season. However, the fans should have faith in Shannon as he grew up in Miami, and has been involved in 3 out of the Canes' 5 national championships (either as a player or a coach). The defense should be tough as usual, but the main issue is improving on offense. Competing for an ACC championship is not out of the question, but a run at the National Championship seems a little far fetched. Much stranger things have happend though, so we shall see!