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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Miami season review

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Overview: Expectations were low for a young team with two new quarterbacks, but coach Randy Shannon put his team in position to win the Coastal Division. A five-game winning streak highlighted the Canes' route back to the postseason, but an embarrassing 41-23 loss at Georgia Tech knocked Miami out of the hunt for its first ACC title. Miami finished the season with back-to-back losses and couldn't stop the run in both games. As expected, it was an inconsistent season for quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris, and Shannon made good on his word to use both. It was a formula that didn't always work, though, as Harris often looked cold and uncomfortable coming in off the bench. Marve threw 13 interceptions to nine touchdowns and averaged 117.5 passing yards per game. Overall, it was still a significant improvement from 2007, when the Hurricanes' 5-7 record kept them out of a bowl. Few teams depended so heavily on true freshmen, but players like linebacker Sean Spence, receiver Aldarius Johnson and linebacker Marcus Robinson lived up to the hype.

Offensive MVP: Running back Graig Cooper. He led the Canes with 88.2 all-purpose yards per game, and led the team in rushing with 778 yards and four touchdowns on 159 carries. Cooper also caught 24 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, and was a kick returner.

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Sean Spence. Spence finished third on the team with 62 total tackles and led all Miami linebackers with 7.5 tackles for loss. Spence returned his first career interception for a touchdown against Florida State and forced a fumble in the final minutes of regulation at Virginia, which helped Miami to an overtime win.

Turning point: Miami's 16-14 home win over Virginia Tech kept the Hurricanes in contention to win the Coastal Division and was a statement win over the defending ACC champs. It put Miami in first place in the division and it was a much better senior send-off than the 2007 disaster in the Orange Bowl.

What's next: After a season filled with growing pains, the Hurricanes need to further develop their young talent and become more consistent. The rushing defense needs to improve, and will get a chance to do that in the Emerald Bowl against Cal.