By Paxton Delany
The Canes’ 2011 season ended with an overall record of 6-6 and an ACC record of 3-5. It was the first season for coach Al Golden, the previous coach at Temple and one-time Virginia assistant. All in all, it was an up-and-down campaign for the Hurricanes. Only once all season did Miami do the same thing two weeks in a row as the schedule unfolded like this: loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss.
So Golden starts his second year hoping for more consistency and more wins. The Hurricanes have added three new coaches to their administrative staff. They also have a de facto young coach as injured sophomore quarterback Stephen Morris will pick up a whistle instead of his jersey this season to help coach the Canes.
To help speed up the process, Miami added multiple early enrolee players for the 2012 season. This spring, defensive lineman Dwayne Hoilett, quarterbacks Gray Crow and Preston Dewey, offensive linemen Ereck Flowers and Taylor Gadbois, defensive back Ladarius Gunter, cornerback Larry Hope, and linebackers Raphael Kirby and Josh Witt all are part of the early class. Overall, Miami signed 24 Hurricanes for the 2012 season. Coach Golden said this about the class: “I think it personifies and embodies what we’re looking for. Lot of guys that want to be Miami Hurricanes. Lot of guys that understand what it means to be part of the tradition, not only how they play, but conduct themselves off the field, the passion they exhibit, the toughness.”
Even with all the excitement of added depth, the aftermath of an NCAA investigation against Miami still lingers in the air. However, “Raising Canes” has brought popularity and the community back together. 3Penny Films, an independent film company, takes fans inside Miami football and aired new episodes this spring.
Hurricane senior and team leader Mike James returned in the episodes, but unfortunately many of the Hurricanes’ key players from a season ago have moved forward in their football careers. Senior quarterback Jacory Harris graduated and senior Travis Benjamin graduated and got picked up by the Cleveland Browns. Defensive end Olivier Vernon will stay in Florida to play for the Miami Dolphins. Linebacker Sean Spence was drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers, while wide receiver Tommy Streeter was drafted to the Baltimore Ravens.. Finally, offensive linemen Brandon Washington heads to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Hurricanes sent nine more players to the NFL through free agency. In other words, a lot of talent vacated the program.
As Miami prepares to play without those standouts, the team had its first scrimmage at Ted Hendricks Stadium on March 24. The offense dominated the play early. James led the offense with 78 yards on 13 rushes and a total of 3 touchdowns. One of James’ touchdowns included a 55-yard rush, outrunning the defense. Sophomore tight end Clive Walford had 2 touchdowns while sophomore wide receiver Rashawn Scott finished the game with 5 catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Williams ended his first scrimmage with completions on 14 of 21 passes for a total of 228 yards and 4 touchdowns. The defense’s intensity in the game was sparked after a fumble in the end zone. Altogether the D created 2 forced fumbles, 7 sacks and 9 pass deflections. Jimmy Gaines led the D with 8 tackles, while junior Kevin Cain had 2 sacks of his own.
Six days later on March 30 the defense got its revenge on the offense in the second spring scrimmage. James scored the first points of the night with a 2-yard run into the end zone, but the defense stole the show. Freshmen cornerback Ladarius Gunter grabbed an interception in the end zone and sophomore linebacker Denzel Perryman had 2 interceptions too. Sacks came in pairs as well when Anthony Chickillo and Dwayne Hoilett had 2 a piece. Junior Curtis Porter, freshmen Ricardo Williams, sophomores Gionni Paul and Denzel Perryman all had 1 sack each. For the offense, Williams threw a 34-yard pass to Scott, who finished the 7-yard run into the end zone. Senior Kendal Thompkins made an astounding 13-yard touchdown run for the last score of the game.
The Orange defeated the Green 7-6 in the final scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. James had the only touchdown of the game, while kicker Mike Goudis hit the PAT for Orange’s win. The Green was only able to put together two field goals from senior kicker Jake Wieclaw. Williams led the Orange at QB where he made 15 of 27 passes for 169 yards. Scott hauled in 4 catches for a total of 74 yards, and Phillip Dorsett made 4 catches for 60 yards. James posted 15 carries for 57 yards. Defensively, Raphael Kirby made 6 tackles while Tyrone Cornileus made 5 tackles to lead the orange defense.
Quarterback Gray Crow hit 12 of 21 passes for 95 yards to lead the Green team. The other quarterback, Preston Dewey, completed 6 of 12 for 56 yards. Thompkins snared 6 catches for 45 yards, and Garrett Kidd caught 3 passes for 32 yards. Running back Eduardo Clements recorded 16 rushes for 51 yards, and fellow Green teammate Darris Huges took 8 carries for 32 yards. Ladarius Gunter led Green’s defense with 7 tackles, and Gionni Paul had 6. Anthony Chickillo registered 5 tackles, while Ray Ray Armstrong and Thomas Finnie each had interceptions.
Most Improved offensive MVP honors went to sophomore Rashawn Scott, while the defensive MVP went to Shayon Green. Special teams MVP went to Thomas Finnie. One final award went to the most improved ‘walk-on’ MVP, Garrett Kidd.
The Hurricanes open the 2012 season on Sept. 1 against Boston College. Other ACC games include NC State (Sept. 22), Georgia Tech (Sept 29), UNC (Oct. 13), FSU (Oct. 20), Virginia Tech (Nov. 1), Virginia (Nov. 10), and Duke (Nov. 24). Non-league foes include Kansas State (Sept. 8), Notre Dame (Oct. 6), and South Florida (Nov. 17).