11 Returning Starters (5 Offense, 6 Defense)
Key Players: QB Kyle Wright, TE Greg Olsen, RB Tyrone Moss, DE Baraka
Atkins, SS Kenny Phillips, FS Brandon Meriweather
The Miami Hurricanes are the popular pick to win the ACC Coastal Division
this year. After a disappointing ending to the 2005 season, Larry Coker cleaned
house, firing or reassigning six of the nine coaches that were part of the 2005
team. Miami is talented, as usual, but will they be able to get back on the
right track in just one season?
Miami has the best tight end in the ACC in junior Greg Olsen. He exploded
onto the scene last season against Florida State, and finished the year with 31
catches for 451 yards and four touchdowns. He was the second leading receiver on
the team last year and is the leading returning receiver in 2006.
With a returning wide receiving corps that has done nothing throughout their
careers except make sports writers talk about how good they could be, Olsen may
have to step up and be the go-to guy.
Miami’s offensive line was a bit disappointing last season, and they return
just one starter from that group for 2006, center Anthony Wollschlager. The rest
of the offensive line is made up of two juniors and two sophomores.
At the beginning of the season, Miami’s entire offense could be in
shambles. With four new offensive line starters, starting tailback Tyrone Moss
and starting receiver Ryan Moore suspended and a quarterback who has never had
to win a game on his own, the Hurricanes could be in for a long night against
the Florida State linebackers.
Miami has the best group of safeties in college football. Kenny Phillips and
Brandon Meriweather return as starters. Phillips started as a true freshman last
season, and Meriweather is regarded by many as the best safety in college
football. Despite these accolades, they will share playing time with a couple of
Anthony Reddick started as a true freshman in 2004, but a knee injury forced
him to redshirt while missing last season. He is a very talented player and it
will be tough to keep him on the sideline. The other backup safety, sophomore
Lovon Ponder, tied for the team lead in interceptions last year with three.
This is going to be the shortest part of this preview. The Canes basically
have no defensive weaknesses. You might say that their linebackers aren’t as
good as the defensive backs and defensive linemen, but overall, Miami has a lot
of defensive talent and depth all over the field.
Up front, Miami can’t afford injuries on the defensive line. The backups
are talented, but there is a dropoff from the starting group.
Miami has a couple of trap games this season. On September 16, they play on
the road at Louisville, a team that was a dropped interception away from beating
the Canes in the Orange Bowl two years ago. Before the Louisville game, they
play Florida State and Florida A&M on September 4 and September 9. Three
games in 12 days is a lot, even if one of them is FAMU.
On October 28, Miami travels to Georgia Tech, a team that beat them in the
Orange Bowl last season. The Canes could be looking forward to their November 4
game against Virginia Tech, so this is a game to watch.