SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Larry Coker (3rd year, 24-1)
2002 record: 12-1 (Lost to Ohio State 31-24 in Fiesta Bowl)
Big East finish: 1st
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 181.6 ypg
(4th in Big East, 40th in nation)
Pass: 284.2 ypg (1st, 16th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 165.3 ypg (6th, 72nd)
Pass: 119.7 ypg (1st, 1st)
Projected Starters
Offense (6 returning starters in bold)
FL   9   Kevin Beard   Sr.  
SE  Jason Geathers  Sr. 
LT   76   Carlos Joseph   Sr.  
LG  67  Joe McGrath  Sr. 
70  Joel Rodriguez  Jr. 
RG   77   Chris Myers   Jr.  
RT   60   Vernon Carey   Sr.  
TE   81   Kellen Winslow   Jr.  
QB  Brock Berlin  Jr. 
FB   23   Quadtrine Hill   So.  
TB  32  Frank Gore  So. 
Defense (7)
DE  93  John Square  Jr. 
DT  75  Vince Wilfork  So. 
DT  92  Orien Harris  Fr. 
DE  90  Thomas Carroll  So. 
WLB   17   D.J. Williams   Sr.  
MLB   51   Jonathan Vilma   Sr.  
SLB   50   Roger McIntosh   So.  
CB   6   Antrel Rolle   Jr.  
CB   22   Kelly Jennings   So.  
FS   26   Sean Taylor   Jr.  
SS   36   Maurice Sikes   Sr.  
Special Teams
33  Mark Gent  So. 
39  Jon Peattie  Fr. 
PR  Roscoe Parrish  So. 
KR  Jason Geathers  Sr. 
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  at Louisiana Tech 
Sept. 6  Florida 
Sept. 13  East Carolina 
Sept. 20  at Boston College 
Oct. 2  West Virginia 
Oct. 11  at Florida State 
Oct. 18  Temple 
Nov. 1  at Virginia Tech 
Nov. 8  Tennessee 
Nov. 15  Syracuse 
Nov. 22  Rutgers 
Nov. 29  at Pittsburgh 
Miami is coming off an unprecedented three-year run of success, so why all the sad faces among the team's players and coaches?

The Hurricanes feel as if they were one questionable interference call from beating Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and winning a second consecutive national championship. That's why.

"We're not going to change anything, so let's move on," Miami coach Larry Coker said he told his players. "I think there's a hangover, but it's a good hangover. There's more motivation."

That could mean trouble for Miami's opponents, who may not notice much dropoff despite the departure of 12 starters.

The offense lost several key players but has able replacements, especially at quarterback, with Florida transfer Brock Berlin, and at tailback, with Frank Gore. The defense lost every member of its starting line, but its trio of linebackers and the entire secondary, which led the nation in pass defense, return intact.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

If Miami hopes to return to the national championship game for the third consecutive season, it must fill some large holes on offense. The biggest void may be at quarterback, where Berlin is the frontrunner for the starting job over Derrick Crudup, the Hurricanes' backup for two seasons. Berlin or Crudup will have the advantage of throwing to Kellen Winslow, the nation's best tight end.

Gore, out all of last season after injuring his knee, returns as the starting tailback. As a freshman in 2001, Gore averaged 9.1 yards per carry and appeared destined to become the school's next outstanding runner. Judging by Gore's performance in spring practice, the injury hasn't caused him to miss a beat.

Miami has some questions at wide receiver. Kevin Beard is a returning starter but is trying to bounce back from major knee surgery. Jason Geathers, who combines good size and speed but lacks experience, could win a starting job. The diminutive Roscoe Parrish may turn out to be the offense's next big-play man.

The offensive line returns three starters -- Vernon Carey, Carlos Joseph and Chris Myers. Transplanted tight end Eric Winston finished spring practice as the starting left tackle. Winston's switch caused a domino effect along the rest of the offensive line -- Joseph moved to right tackle and Carey, the right tackle last season, moved inside to right guard.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

The Hurricanes are set at linebacker and in the secondary, where all seven starters return. It's the defensive line that is cause for concern. Miami must replace its four top ends. John Square and Thomas Carroll own the most experience and will get the first shot at jobs, but both are undersized. The circumstances are better at tackle, where the massive and disruptive Vince Wilfork has inherited one starting spot and Santonio Thomas the other.

Miami returns every member of a defensive backfield that led the nation in pass defense. Safety Sean Taylor, a headhunter with tremendous athletic ability, is the best of the bunch. Depth is excellent everywhere, especially at cornerback. Opponents will pass at their own risk against this group.

Jonathan Vilma, a three-year starter at middle linebacker, returns, along with D.J. Williams on the weak side and Roger McIntosh at strong-side linebacker. Williams' play has yet to match the enormous hype he brought to Miami four years ago.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

First the good: Parrish averaged 14.5 yards on 27 punt returns and is a touchdown waiting to happen any time he runs back a kick. Now the bad: Miami must find a kicker between Mark Gent or Jon Peattie, who have virtually no experience. The punter's job, formerly held by Freddie Capshaw, is also vacant.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Miami is going to be good. The only question appears to be, how good? Although the Hurricanes must replace 12 starters, plenty of talent remains. The offense may not score as many points as it did last season, but it should remain potent. There are a couple of uncertainties on defense, although not enough to keep the unit from ranking among the nation's best. The schedule could be difficult, particularly if Florida and Tennessee regain their form. The biggest question for the Hurricanes may be how they handle the bitter Fiesta Bowl defeat to Ohio State. Will Miami suffer a hangover, or is it ready to stage another run at a national title?

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