Today the Miami Hurricanes will begin spring practices. It will be the 12th time the Hurricanes have done so since leaving the Big East for the ACC. And for the 12th spring one of the questions sure to be asked at some point in the perhaps not-so-distant future will be whether or not this will finally be the year Miami plays for an ACC championship.
At the time Miami left the Big East for the ACC, it was widely assumed the addition of the Hurricanes and Virginia Tech would bring a balance to the power of the football conference regularly dominated by Florida State. While the Hokies have more than held up their end of the bargain through the years, Miami has yet to even reach the ACC Championship Game, never mind winning it. Since joining the ACC, Miami has finished as high as second place in its division just four times. Miami’s move to the ACC 12 years later has been a disappointment in terms of on-field football production, and there is no dispute about that. Which is why this spring Miami fans and columnists will be wondering if this can finally be the year Miami can make a run to the top of what could be another wide-open season in the ACC Coastal Division.
Before even bothering with the routine “Is Miami back” or “Is this finally the year for Miami” questions, Golden and his coaching staff have some more important questions to answer in spring practices.
Miami appears to have some reasons for optimism moving into 2015, which will be the critical fifth season on the job for head coach Al Golden. That’s right, Golden is entering his fifth season at Miami. This could be his best yet, but stop me if you have heard this before about Miami. I tend to forgive Golden and Miami for the first two seasons because an NCAA cloud of uncertainty floated above the program before ultimately turning out nothing but bad looks for the NCAA. Regardless, Miami may need to show some improvement in order to ensure Golden’s job will be safe.
Miami went 6-7 last season and the Hurricanes lose running back Duke Johnson, which should lead to a nice competition at running back this spring. Miami also has to replace its top three receivers and fill three spots on the offensive line. One solid position on offense though will be quarterback, with Brad Kayaa giving many following Miami reason for optimism. Kayaa passed for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns as a freshman and could be one of the top offensive players in the ACC this season if all goes to plan. Miami improved defensively in 2014 but also loses some key players to open some competition in the spring.