And just like that, it's all over. With Duke's win against North Carolina yesterday, Miami was officially locked out of the ACC Championship Game. Again. Still, there were many positives to take from this season if you're a UM fan. But overall, would you consider it a success?
Let's take a look at some of the arguments for and against the season being dubbed a success.
- The team improved its record for the third straight season, going from 6-6 to 7-5 and now 9-3 with a bowl game forthcoming.
- Miami has the opportunity with a bowl victory (which incidentally seems more and more likely to be in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando against Louisville) to win ten games for the first time in a decade.
- The team showed great mental toughness at times, as they rallied from behind to defeat Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest in consecutive weeks.
- Miami, for a time, was a relevant program in college football and achieved a top-10 ranking for a few weeks in the middle of the season.
- The team discovered several exciting young players moving forward, most notably Stacy Coley, who looks like a future superstar on offense. Combining he with Phillip Dorsett and Duke Johnson on offense next year should give the Hurricanes unparalleled speed at the skill positions.
- Miami faded badly in the second half of the season, Pitt game notwithstanding. It very easily have lost to two-win Virginia and four-win Wake Forest teams, and in general it didn't play up to its talent level.
- Miami was the most talented team in the Coastal Division, but didn't win it. Anytime that happens, part of the blame has to go to coaching. Yes, it's unfair that Miami had to play Florida State while its division rivals didn't, but for Miami to get blown out by Virginia Tech and Duke this year is unacceptable.
- The defense still isn't very good, and with the possible loss of Denzel Perryman to the NFL along with some contributors along the defensive line and no obvious replacements, things don't figure to get dramatically better next year.
- Stephen Morris regressed, and the future of the quarterback position is in question. Further, coming off of Jedd Fisch's excellent work as offensive coordinator, one hoped that the days of player regression on this side of the ball were over, but Morris' play didn't provide any comfort, though he was limited by injuries. More time is needed to judge James Coley, who generally did a solid job designing and calling plays in his first season and is also noted as an excellent recruiter as well.
In my view, the season was a success, though a mild one. To not win the Coastal Division was a HUGE disappointment given the relative states of Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina but to win nine games with the distractions that were abound and lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball in some spots gives some hope for the future. Given the relatively weak non-conference schedule next year, UM fans shouldn't expect any less than 9 wins next year, and I think 10 is a good goal.