No excuse to drop the ball this season

Fourth-year head coach Randy Shannon said it would be a “process” to turn this program around to national prominence ever since he was named head coach Dec. 8, 2006. Each year, Shannon has improved UM’s win total by two games. The time is now for UM to take an even bigger step. There is no excuse for UM not to be playing in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 8 for the BCS national title game. Below are the top-five reasons the U has no more excuses. The time to win is simply now.

5) All tough ACC games for UM are at home.

Miami plays Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech at Sun Life Stadium this year. Miami has yet to beat North Carolina in the Randy Shannon era and the Canes avoid traveling to Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. It is one of the most hostile stadiums in the country. Miami needs to rely on the fans to be the 12th man because these are crucial games if Miami wants to win the first ACC title in program history.

4) Shannon is in his fourth year.

Shannon received a four-year contract extension in the offseason so he knows his future is secure. Miami has only had one arrest in his three years, and Shannon preaches academics as a focal point to these student-athletes. Shannon has produced a great Academic Progress Rate during his tenure. But it’s time to do big things on the football field. He has more than enough experience as head coach now. Clock management, in-game adjustments and finishing the season should be better. Miami has faded in the late months.

3) Lots of depth if injuries occur.

With the exception of linebackers and tight ends, Miami is deep at every position. Every team sustains injuries throughout the four-month grind. Miami has a strong scout team to prepare them for upcoming opponents. They have lots of depth to keep bodies fresh and coaches will continue to rotate players to give opposing teams different looks. Being “nicked up” is no longer a valid excuse.

2) Same offensive and defensive coordinators.

For the first time in the Randy Shannon era, Miami returns its same pairing of offensive and defensive coordinators from the previous season. No new playbook to learn for either side of the ball. Players should be comfortable and familiar with all the terminology now. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s pro-style offense is very aggressive and defensive coordinator John Lovett’s 4-3 defense has good schemes.

1) Not young anymore.

The core of the team is juniors and seniors. Allen Bailey, Leonard Hankerson and Orlando Franklin passed on the NFL and came back for their senior seasons for a reason. They knew something special was brewing. Shannon’s heralded top-ranked recruiting class in 2008 has now matured and is at junior status. The chemistry is there between the players. They have the experience and now they need to make proper adjustments to get better. The margin of error is a lot slimmer in college and these veterans need to execute, communicate and win ball games.

Justin Antweil may be contacted at