FanHouse's 2010 Preseason College Football Poll -- No. 13 Miami
Has the University of Miami finally turned the corner? Are the Hurricanes poised to become a national player? Will all eyes really be on the U again?
Fans should know in a hurry.
UM better be in mid-season form from the get-go as it heads on the road for four of five games after its opener against Florida A&M. UM faces Big Ten favorite Ohio State, Big East favorite Pittsburgh, reigning ACC Atlantic Division champion Clemson and in-state rival Florida State in the first five weeks of the season.
The Hurricanes and stoic head coach Randy Shannon nearly survived last year's similar opening gauntlet in terms of toughness, going 5-1 and rising into the top 10. However, UM was unable to sustain its momentum and capture the program's first 10-win season since 2003 and escape a December bowl game.
The difference this year is the Hurricanes believe they have reached a point where they are talented and as deep as any team in the ACC, and beyond. They could be right.
If Jacory Harris, who says he's recovered from off-season thumb surgery, stays healthy and reduces his interception total, he could develop into one of the nation's top quarterbacks. And there's no reason why UM's front seven on defense can't pressure the opposing quarterback and create havoc in the trenches.
Just like the old days.
THE BASICS: The 'Canes went 9-4, 5-3 in the ACC (third in Coastal), and lost to Wisconsin 20-14 in Champs Sports Bowl. The Hurricanes return 15 starters and Shannon, who was entering the final year of his original four-year deal at UM, but signed a four-year extension in May that gives him security and should help recruiting. Shannon's first recruiting class was ranked tops in the nation by ESPN.
KEY PLAYER YOU PROBABLY DON'T THINK OF AS A KEY PLAYER: Matt Bosher embraces his double duties. No wonder. Bosher leads all active kickers with a career field-goal percentage of .889 (32-of-36). He also finished second in the ACC in punting last season with a 42.5 average. Bosher needed extra space for his hardware -- he was a first-team All-ACC kicker and a second-team all-conference punter last season.
FLY IN THE OINTMENT: The Hurricanes have plenty of speed and skill -- that never seems to change -- but they are breaking in three new starters along the offensive line. The good news is this group is tall, beefy and athletic. Plus, UM landed one of the nation's top recruits when 6-foot-8, 330-pound Seantrel Henderson was granted his release from Southern California following NCAA sanctions.
DON'T MISS: This quartet of consecutive games -- at Ohio State on Sept. 11, at Pittsburgh on Sept. 23, at Clemson on Oct. 2 and home against Florida State on Oct. 9. For those with a short memory, this comes after the Hurricanes won three of their first four games last season despite opening with Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Not many teams have prepared for such a grueling stretch over two consecutive seasons.
PREDICTED RECORD: 9-3
FanHouse's Miami team page with schedule
You can contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JimHenryAOL