High hopes for upcoming football season

A new coach. New athletic director. A renewed set of expectations for this Miami Hurricane football team.

Yet when it all comes down to it, the rest of the storyline looks very familiar.

The Hurricane football team will kick off a new season and look to get back amongst the nation’s elite programs when it faces off against the University of Maryland on Labor Day Weekend. It will open up a stretch in which the Canes face off against Ohio State, Kansas State and Virginia Tech, as well as the Terrapins, in four of the first five games of the season.

Despite a rough opening schedule, there is a renewed sense of optimism among Hurricane fans. With the hiring of head coach Al Golden back in December, there has been a turnaround within the program that had not been seen in years. Between reaching out to former players and building a team in the same mold that made the Hurricanes successful in their championship years, there is the belief that Miami can once again compete for a national title.

“I want to make sure you understand that our goal is going to be to win a national championship and that’s going to go on the board in the locker room from the get go,” Golden said after being introduced. “We’re not going to wait to say when we’re going to go after it, we’re going to start going after it.”

Offensively, the Canes will be led by running backs Mike James and Lamar Miller. Both of them had spectacular showings during spring scrimmages and both bring a different skill set to the table for Miami. While James can be more of a bruiser, gaining yards the old fashioned way by pounding through the lines for space, Miller utilizes his speed and is capable of turning an empty gap into a long touchdown run.

During the annual spring game, Miller finished with 166 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries, which included touchdown runs of 70 and 64 yards. James only had 25 yards in the game, but did score a touchdown and otherwise looked good throughout the spring.

“Consistency is what [the coaches] preach, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” James said.

Senior quarterback Jacory Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris are both vying for the starting position in the fall. Harris comes as the more experienced of the two, having split time with former UM quarterback Robert Marve his freshman year before being named the starter each of the last two years. Morris came up as a contender after Harris went down with a concussion last year.

Both quarterbacks had their ups and downs last season, and a major aspect they look to improve on is the number of interceptions thrown. Both Harris and Morris were listed on the first-team depth chart heading into the summer, indicating that there is a virtual tie between the two.

Even as both are fighting for the job, they are enjoying the competition between the two.

“I’ve just got to keep working,” Harris said. “Like everything else in life, you’ve just got to keep working.”

The Canes will look to bounce back after a disappointing 7-6 season which included big losses to power teams such as Ohio State, Florida State and Virginia Tech, as well as a shocking loss to the University of South Florida at home in the regular season finale that ultimately led to the firing of then head coach Randy Shannon. The Canes ended their season with a 33-17 loss against Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl.

Despite the disappointments of last season, coach Golden and his team are looking to start a run in the ACC.