Some good ink in the Miami Herald on Tuesday when Barry Jackson wrote about Randy Shannon’s optimism for the 2009 season.
“You will see this team taking the next step,” Shannon said. “The Georgia Tech game last year made us grow a lot. That will make us a better team record-wise. We’re a lot more talented, have a lot more depth. You don’t have to worry about [defensive-line] depth any more. Two years ago, you had only five defensive linemen to play in a game. That alone should tell you how far we’ve come.”
Entering year three of The Shannon Era, the depth is starting to return and with some upgrades at coordinator, many expect for the Canes to begin their climb back. A few reasons for Shannon’s optimism:
– Depth At Running Back: Miami has a half dozen solid players and the depth to overcome a slow start by the upperclassmen. “The best guys will play,” said Shannon.
– Brandon Washington and Harland Gunn were named two of the most improved players; a bright spot after years of offensive line struggles. Defensive end Adewale Ojomo was also singled out, as were veterans Leonard Hankerson and Randy Phillips. Shannon also called for “big things” from Brandon Harris.
– For those wondering why or if Shannon handcuffed the inexperienced Patrick Nix last year, don’t expect the same with Mark Whipple. The new offensive coordinator has been given the green light to spread the ball around and light up scoreboards.
– Jackson mentioned a Shannon quote regarding Glenn Cook’s leadership abilities last year and immediately I saw a few message board folk up in arms and missing the point. What Cook lacked on the field, he made up for with his maturity and ability to lead.
The loss of Eric Moncur and Colin McCarthy hurt Miami big time down the stretch and both are back this year, hopefully able to step up and lead. The lack of upperclassmen put too much pressure on last year’s first timers. Especially the early enrollees who went straight from fall high school ball to spring practice and then right into their freshman season.
Cook jumped on board as an assistant coach during the 2007 campaign and when healthy again, attempted to jump start 2008 with the “No Excuses” motto and team bracelets. While the result was still a 7-6 campaign, the leadership was a step forward and hopefully someone steps up to carry the torch this year.
– Of the 19 enrollees only 17 made the grade. Offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche is headed to prep school and defensive back Prince Kent is transferring elsewhere, due to academic issues.
– Most exciting in the Jackson piece, Shannon’s comments about the current culture being “totally different” – no off-field distractions or arrests putting Miami in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Shannon stated in the past that he had to play the role of hard-ass year one, as the program was broken. Weed out the bad seeds, recruit the right kind of players and with these kids in the regime for two years, it allows more of a hands-off approach year three.
“I approach things differently. I don’t have to keep grinding them. The are doing all the right things,” said Shannon.
Besides the addition of Whipple as offensive coordinator, the fact Shannon is pulling back is equally as exciting. Expect a looser brand of Miami football come fall, resulting in more wins.