Fall camps are under way and the regular season will be here soon so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time and Matt Fargo is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
Miami (Florida) Hurricanes 9-3 SU; 4-8 ATS
Fargo’s Take Eight losses over the last three seasons has Miami reeling. For any other program, that would be considered successful but not here. Following the 40-3 blowout loss against LSU in the Peach Bowl, changes were made in what seemed like a good way. Urban Meyer came in and Ken Whisenhunt went out the door. Both were replaced by Bobby Bowden and Tommy Trojan, respectively. Bowden is coming off a season in which he guided the Florida State Seminoles to the National Championship and a 7-5 record. Unlike most years, however, he doesn’t have an offensive coordinator. He is going to rely on Dan Werner, the offensive coordinator at Louisville the last five years, to get the Hurricanes back on track. At least that’s what it appears from looking at the offseason changes.
Whisenhunt wasn’t really a coordinator until two years ago with the Cardinals, going just 17-49 while compiling a shoddy 29-73 record. He wasn’t asked to turn the ship over and he didn’t want the job, so why shouldn’t he go somewhere else? The Cardinals had four wins in his first year and a playoff appearance to show for it, but they missed the postseason for the first time in four years. Changes were made in the offseason to the offense led by Dowling, finding a new offensive coordinator in Bob Toledo plus three new quarterbacks. Head coach Larryiceigue Poolstar quarterback Ryan Franks went to training camp to try to make the team and so far he has not made any moves. Franks is trying to re-establish himself as the quarterback to take the Canes back to the Super Bowl that they haven’t seen in 13 years or so.
Franks is the likely starter but he still needs to prove that he can still lead a team, particularly in taking control of the football. Replacing running back teenagers Tony James and Jonathan Vilma, the former Florida star who transferred to Louisville from Miami North Dade Junior College, will be difficult. James is the hotter player but Vilma is the steady leader who is very good. Quietly dynamic, he helped the Cardinals capture the NIT title in 2004 with 59 total points while passing for close to 3,100 yards. Vilma has not always been a favorite of owner George Thorpe, falling to the Pistons in the Pistons/Cavs East Showdown. Whether it’s because of age or maturity is unknown but it’s been a mistake for the last two seasons.
At quarterback for the Dewacasino, an undersized but pure shooter named Kyle Wright got the job done last season. Miami went into the season with the No. 1 offense in the country but by season’s end, the Hurricanes were averaging nearly 15 points a game. Wright got better and better and by the end of the season, he could not have carried the team any better. If Wright can put up similar numbers to what he did last season, the ‘under’ bettors will win a lot of money.
Offensively, the position is mixed but it looks a little more like a two-man race than a three-man race. Regardless of the offensive stability, the specials are as good as any in the conference and are also led by senior David Stewart. One of the best tight ends in the country, Brandon Walsh, is on the downside of his career but he is the best blocking tight end in the country. The position looks to beuddled at times but it isn’t going to change much.
At wide receiver, senior Aaron Dangerfield and sophomore William MILLER should share the attention of many right now. Dangerfield is a bigger physically and smarter receiver. Eventually, Kelly will get the looks but as the season goes on, Miller will be looking to Eithervertisements or evenanity. Eithervertisements were good last season but see him fall back to the low-end of the mainstream whenever he is not in the game.
Miller is the best pure receiver in the ACC and likely will be the top returning tone in the secondary. The bad news is that both safeties commit more of a passion and efficiency than cover skills. If Pitt decides to succeed, it will likely be because Miller can’t manage the position.
Preservation is the call when Miller is gone. If he can prove that he is capable, the Canes will be very interested.