Any time now, Al. Four years into his tenure, Miami (FL) head coach Al Golden has still been unable to lift the once-great program to its past glory. And after an exodus of talent to the NFL this offseason, the under-fire Golden will have an even greater challenge to produce the goods in Year 5.
The Canes have an excellent quarterback in Brad Kaaya, who will be looking to build off his fantastic freshman season. But does “The U” have enough talent left around him to rack up the W’s? Read on as we take a closer look at the Canes and their outlook for the upcoming season.
2015-2016 Miami (FL) College Football Preview
Despite a team loaded with NFL talent – Ereck Flowers, Phillip Dorsett, and Duke Johnson to name three of seven players drafted this year – Al Golden could only coax a 6-7 record from the Canes last season. It was quite a step back from the program’s slow but steady rise in his first three years in charge.
[sc:NCAA240banner ]All of those talented players are gone now, but at least the crucial quarterback position’s all set with Brad Kaaya. Kaaya was a revelation in his freshman season, as he snagged the ACC Rookie of the Year award. He’ll be without his two main weapons, Dorsett and Johnson (Miami’s all-time leading rusher), but the team still has some quality in the skill positions.
The bigger problem Kaaya must overcome is his offensive line, which returns with just one full-time starter. The Canes also had problems defensively, especially against the run. They allowed 300-plus rushing yards twice, and lost key personnel in their front seven during the offseason.
As mentioned in our losers of the offseason piece, Golden didn’t have the greatest recruiting season, as he lost out on the state’s top prospects to Florida and Florida State, among others. But with one of the conference’s best QB’s in tow, Miami is priced at +1,000 to win the ACC this season.
Key Player – Brad Kaaya
Expectations will be sky-high for sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya after his excellent rookie season. Kaaya set new school records for a true freshman as he threw for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdown passes. He also led the ACC in touchdown passes and quarterback rating last season – both ahead of the former Heisman winner and No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, Jameis Winston.
Speaking of the Heisman, the sophomore is currently priced as a +5,000 long shot to take home the trophy this season. And with the talent drain that saw him lose his best running back (Johnson), his best receiver (Dorsett), his best lineman (Flowers) and his best tight end (Clive Walford), the Canes will need Kaaya playing at a Heisman-caliber level for them to be competitive in the ACC this season.
Key Game – @ Florida State (Oct. 10)
There’s something about losing to the Seminoles that Miami, for some reason, just can’t shake. The Canes were an undefeated 7-0 back in 2013 heading into their matchup with Florida State. They got smashed 41-14 and lost three of their next five games to end the season.
It was a similar story last season. The Canes were a respectable 6-3 coming in, but after a close 30-26 loss to the Noles, they dropped their final two regular season games as well as their bowl game against South Carolina.
Miami will face off with Florida State a lot earlier this season, though, and in Tallahassee. The Canes will be desperate for a win over their state rivals to finally put an end to their FSU curse.
Create a betting account now and get ready for college football’s always entertaining inter-state rivalry games.
Best/Worst Case Scenario for the Season
Best Case Scenario
Kaaya develops into a legitimate Heisman candidate this season, and despite a less talented group around him, he finds a way to make them better. The Canes also get unexpectedly decent line play on both sides of the ball, as they soar to a surprising 10-win season.
Worst Case Scenario
Kaaya can’t handle the massive responsibility of having to carry a severely weakened offense, and takes a significant step back as a sophomore. The defense continues to give up some huge gains on the ground, as the Canes collapse to a four-win season.
|Sat, Sept. 5||vs. Bethune-Cookman||6:00 PM ET|
|Fri, Sept. 11||@ Florida Atlantic||8:00 PM ET|
|Sat, Sept. 19||vs. Nebraska||3:30 PM ET|
|Thu, Oct. 1||@ Cincinnati||7:30 PM ET|
|Sat, Oct. 10||@ Florida State||TBA|
|Sat, Oct. 17||vs. Virginia Tech||TBA|
|Sat, Oct. 24||vs. Clemson||TBA|
|Sat, Oct. 31||@ Duke||TBA|
|Sat, Nov. 7||vs. Virginia||TBA|
|Sat, Nov. 14||@ North Carolina||TBA|
|Sat, Nov. 21||vs. Georgia Tech||TBA|
|Fri, Nov. 27||@ Pittsburgh||TBA|
Despite Kaaya’s best efforts, Golden fails to get the most out of a talented-depleted Miami team, as the Hurricanes go under the 7.0 wins projection for the season. Miami finishes 6-7 for the second straight year, which spells the end of Golden’s reign.[sc:NCAA490banner ]
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