2015 Miami Football Predictions: 2nd ACC Coastal (2014 record: 6-7)
Head Coach: Al Golden
ACC Champion Odds: +1600
National Championship Odds: +16,500
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 5.5 (-300), Under 5.5 (+220)
The Miami Hurricanes came away from the 2014 season feeling a little empty after squeezing into a bowl game only to lose the game and end the season with a losing record. They were an American football powerhouse in the 1980s and 90s, but the last 15 years have seen them produce ordinary team after ordinary team. That said, the Canes had one of its most productive offensive seasons in years. They scored an average of 29 PPG while compiling total yardage of just under 431 YPG, using a well-balanced offensive attack.
Whatever success the offense has this year is going to have to be accomplished without the presence of superstar running back Duke Johnson who headed off to the NFL after a great 2014 season that saw him gain 1,652 yards rushing and 10 TDs. He will be replaced by SO RB Joe Yearby who had a decent season picking up 509 yards in a reserve role. The only other significant player returning on offense is SO QB Brad Kaaya who had a great freshman season with 3,198 yards passing and 26 TDs. His performance was reminiscent of the QB greats from Miami who trolled football fields during the Hurricanes’ glory days. With any improvement at all, he might be the answer to the question, “who can lead the Miami Fla Hurricanes back to the promised land?”
In spite of the loss of Johnson, Coach Golden has to be inspired by the play of his two super frosh last season. These are the kinds of players coaches can start dynasties with if they have a decent supporting cast around them and that’s the rub. Who is Golden going to surround these guys with in order to give them the opportunity to be all they can be?
On the defensive side of the ball, Coach Golden will be looking for a similar performance to the one he saw in 2014. The Canes’ defense was just a tad short of being dominant, putting up strong numbers like 24.3 PPG allowed on just over 323 YPG of total offense. They did everything well, including defending the pass, stopping the running game and forcing turnovers with a total of 23.
Here’s to hoping Coach Golden has some great defensive players waiting in the wings because his defense has lost many of its best players. Gone from last year’s team was their best defensive player by far in one Denzel Perryman who led the team in tackles by a wide margin with a total of 110 to go along with a couple of sacks. With him out of the picture, the defense will be leaning heavily on the talents of JR LB Jermaine Grace who compiled 60 tackles and three sacks. It’s not much, but this is the hand this team has been dealt and there is a strong feeling that several of the underclassmen have more than enough talent to step up and make a big impact.
Coach Golden has been down this road before, but never with the kind of talent he has in his young QB Kaaya. The defense doesn’t need to be great, just good enough to keep the offense rested and the score within reach. If they can manage to do that, then Miami will win more than enough games to make it to the postseason.
This is a solid team that is much improved from last year. The Canes are finally being able to establish depth and talent and look for them to make a run at the division title. Eight wins by this team seems about right for now.