Miami Hurricanes Football: 2015 Season Preview and Prediction


Al Golden looks to get off the hot seat in 2015 but needs Brad Kaaya and the rest of the Miami Hurricanes to make a big step forward and climb the ACC standings to do so.

The Miami Hurricanes had a strong 2013 season under Al Golden when he had his best year with the former perennial power when they finished with a 9-4 record and tied for second in the ACC Coastal and made it to a bowl game.

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However, the Canes regressed in Year 4 under Golden last year and finished with a 6-7 record after losing in the Independence Bowl and another similar season could be the final one for Golden in Miami.

Offensive Outlook

Brad Kaaya wasn’t supposed to be the starting quarterback for Miami but the true freshman grew in the role and set program records and was the ACC Rookie of the Year after completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions. The yards and touchdowns were true freshmen records for Miami but repeating those numbers will be challenging without running back Duke Johnson, receiver Phillip Dorsett, tight end Clive Walford and left tackle Ereck Flowers who was a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.

Miami finished ninth in scoring offense in the ACC last year and fifth in passing so if they’re to approach those numbers this year, Kaaya has to get more help from wide receiver Stacy Coley who was a massive disappointment last year. Coley was a freshman All-American two years ago when he had 33 catches for 591 yards and seven touchdowns and added scores as a punt returner, kick returner and scored on a 73-yard run. But he only had 23 catches for 184 yards and was held out of the end zone as a sophomore.

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Herb Waters, Rashawn Scott, Malcolm Lewis, Braxton Berrios and Tyre Brady round out Kaaya’s cast of receivers with tight ends Standish Dobard and Jake O’Donnell.

The offensive line loses three starters with Flowers the toughest to replace at left tackle but right guard Daniel Isidora could be the best of the group that hopes to pave the way for a new generation of Miami backs.

Joseph Yearby flashed his potential as a freshman last year with 509 yards and a touchdown and could approach the 1,000-yard mark this year. Yearby should form a nice ‘thunder and lightning’ duo with 230-pound junior Gus Edwards who had six touchdowns last year and should complement the 5-9, 195-pound Yearby.

Defensive Outlook

Miami’s defense ranked fourth in the ACC in total defense, allowing an average of 329.6 yards per game but were tied with Syracuse for seventh in scoring defense with an average of 24.3 points per game. They were 1-7 when they allowed at least 24 points and got run over in losses to Nebraska and Georgia Tech when they allowed more than 300 rushing yards in those losses. The defense couldn’t make plays at the end of games in losses to Florida State and South Carolina too when they lost by a combined seven points.

Somehow they’ll have to get better without Denzell Perryman, Anthony Chickillo, Thurston Armbrister, Nantambu-Akil Fentreee, Ladarius Gunter and Olsen Pierre.

Jermaine Grace may be the best defender this year as the team’s leading returning tackler after he finished a distant second to Perryman with 60 tackles as a sophomore last year. Senior Raphael Kirby steps into the middle linebacker position and could be the next great one at Miami after he had 54 stops last year.

The defensive line has a pair of breakout candidates in Chad Thomas and Al-Quadin Muhammad, but of the 27 sacks Miami had last year, only four of them return from players on the defensive line with Ufomba Kamalu responsible for 3.5 of them. The front four has to be better and needs big contributions from players playing their most football of their college career. Thomas has the chance to be an All-ACC performer and a player who’s playing on Sundays.

Deon Bush leads the secondary after tying for the team lead with two interceptions last year and was sixth on the team with 53 tackles. Artie Burns, Corn Elder, Tracy Howard, Dallas Crawford and Jamal Carter bring a combination of experience, speed, upside and play-making potential for a secondary that had the third best pass defense in the ACC last year.


Golden has been on the hot seat since his introductory press conference but can’t have a second straight losing season if he hopes to keep his job at one of the best football programs in the nation. He’s still in search of his first bowl win and the fans are losing what’s left of their patience after seeing Florida State pass them as the premier program in the state and the conference in recent years.

Kaaya is a great young quarterback but doesn’t have much proven help around him on the offensive line or at wide receiver and Yearby and Edwards have never been in featured roles before so the offense is a concern heading into the season.

Defensively, the Canes have some talent, especially in Thomas but it is also unproven talent, so it only adds to the question marks for this team heading into a season where Golden should have reduced these questions as he enters his fifth year. Golden has recruited fairly well, especially when you consider the NCAA sanctions at the beginning of his tenure, but competing for an ACC title this year seems highly unlikely.

Best-case scenario is an eight-win season but a six-win campaign is the more likely outcome.

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