College Football Preview: The 2014 Miami Hurricanes
2014 College Football Preview
Odds to Win National Championship: 75-1 See the Latest Odds
2013 Review: The Miami Hurricanes had their best season yet under head coach Al Golden, as they finished 9-4 and reached a bowl game due to no more NCAA sanctions. The Hurricanes had an explosive offense that averaged close to 34 points per game, but a lot of that production went down when running back Duke Johnson got injured, as the Canes lost three of their last five games. Defense was the Hurricanes biggest issue, as they ranked 13th in the ACC in that category. Still, given the circumstances, last season was the best for Miami since 2009.
Offense: The Hurricanes have arguably the most explosive offense in the conference with Johnson, Dallas Crawford and Stacy Coley returning for another year. All three players are explosive and have all-conference potential, especially Johnson, who has rushed for 16 touchdowns in his first two seasons. The only real issue for the offense this season is the loss of Stephen Morris at quarterback. Ryan Williams is expected to take over the job, but he’s thrown just 52 passes in a Miami uniform. Quarterback or no quarterback, the Hurricanes have the pieces in play to be a deadly offensive team.
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Defense: Defense was a major problem for the Hurricanes last season but the good thing is that they return seven starters on that side of the ball. Miami’s leading tackler in Denzel Perryman returns, as does defensive back Tracy Howard, who is one of the better secondary players in the country. While the Hurricanes didn’t get to the quarterback a ton last season, they do return seven of their top eight sack leaders from a year ago. There’s potential with this group and you have to imagine things will get better with another year under their belts. But if there’s one thing that could hold this team back, it’s defense.
Special Teams: The Canes do return kicker Matt Goudis, who made 13 of 17 attempts last season, but lose star punter Pat O'Donnell. O'Donnell was a huge part of Miami’s success, as his strong leg averaged more than 47 yards per attempt. Replacing him will be nearly impossible.
Outlook: Miami has the potential to get back to a double-digit winning season for the first time since 2003. The Hurricanes offense is loaded from top to bottom and that’s good enough to win many games in a watered down ACC. The difference from being very good to possibly winning the conference comes down to a defense that allowed more than 425 yards last season. If the Hurricanes can improve on that side of the ball, Miami is a sleeper pick to win the ACC. There’s value in that bet and I’m certainly going to throw a little something on it once we inch closer to the season.