Miami was consistent in its inconsistency last season.
Actually, Golden deserves credit for keeping the team from imploding. The school faces an NCAA investigation into the actions of former booster Nevin Shapiro, and that became the overriding storyline with UM last season.
Coach: Al Golden (2nd season)
Last season: 6-6 overall, 3-5 in ACC
Spring practice dates: March 3-April 14
Returning starters (minimum 7 starts last season)
Offense (4): T Jon Feliciano, WR Allen Hurns, G Brandon Linder, TE Clive Walford
Defense (5): E Antony Chickillo, LB Jimmy Gaines, CB Brandon McGee, T/E Adewale Ojomo, SS Vaughn Telemaque
Special teams (2): P Dalton Botts, K Jake Wieclaw
In an attempt to lessen some penalties later, Miami decided to self-impose a bowl ban last season.
[ACC spring preview: Miami among those with work ahead]
On paper, this season's team doesn't look as good as last season's. Golden and his staff will be busy this spring, especially on offense. The Hurricanes need a new starting quarterback, a new tailback and a new go-to receiver. They also need to rebuild the line.
Former starter Steven Morris looks likes the guy at quarterback, but he won't have much to work with this spring at receiver. UM will go through spring drills with just three healthy scholarship receivers, and the presumed new go-to- guy, Allen Hurns, will miss spring practice with an injury.
Defensively, Miami will be looking for some more pass rushers and a new middle linebacker. In addition, the secondary is undergoing some changes. It would help if S Ray Ray Armstrong bounces back from a mediocre 2011 season and has a strong spring.
[Y! Sports Investigation: Renegade Miami football booster spells out illicit benefits to players]
The biggest problem: Wide receiver. The Hurricanes enter the spring with only three healthy scholarship receivers, which could put a major crimp in plans to make progress with coordinator Jedd Fisch's offense. Cornerback also is an area of extremely weak depth, with just three returning players (including starter Brandon McGee) and two newcomers who enrolled early. The good news at those positions? Six freshmen receivers and six cornerbacks arrive in the fall.
On the spot: RB Mike James. James, a senior, began last season as the primary backup to Lamar Miller; he was the "Smash" to Miller's "Dash" in Miami's "Smash and Dash" backfield. But James had some fumbling issues and never really hit his stride. He was pushed by Eduardo Clements as the season went on, and now James will have to hold off Clements, a junior, this spring. If James doesn't show coaches what they're looking for, he may not wind up getting many reps in 2012, considering highly touted freshman Duke Johnson arrives in the fall along with fellow signee Danny Dillard. But if James lives up to his potential, he could emerge as the starter and help carry the offense all season.
On the verge: TE Clive Walford. With only three scholarship receivers on the roster this spring, the tight ends will be getting a lot of balls thrown their way. Walford is the most athletic and best pass-catching tight end on the roster. This is his time to shine.
General overview: The offense needs to find a way to function despite having only three scholarship receivers, and integrating the tight ends more heavily might help. While it's expected Stephen Morris will be the new starting quarterback with Jacory Harris gone, it will be hard for him to get much going with the depleted receiving unit. On defense, the team needs to find a starting end opposite Anthony Chickillo, and another goal this spring is for a middle linebacker to step up and fill the shoes of the departing Sean Spence. Finding a quality cornerback or two to complement McGee also is a must.
For in-depth coverage of Miami athletics, go to CaneSport.com
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