Unrealistic expectations for football team

Kyle Wright threw two touchdown passes and passed for 159 yards in a 31-21 Miami victory. Granted, it was the Spring game, and the team was playing against itself, but wasn’t it fun to see Wright play well?

Miami’s football team has many question marks entering next season, and one of the biggest is at quarterback. It is too early to say that Wright answered those questions at the game, but he took a step in the right direction April 9.

Speaking of the right direction, much maligned wide receiver Ryan Moore, who had a disappointing sophomore campaign last season, caught one of Wright’s TD passes, a 23-yarder in the second quarter. That could be a successful combination this season. Also, Wright put up a big zero in one of the most important categories: turnovers.

Kirby Freeman, who is competing with Wright, struggled in the Spring game, completing just seven of 18 passes and throwing two interceptions. Basically, it looks like the job is Wright’s to lose.

However, even if the quarterback position works out, the Hurricanes have several other concerns. The defense underperformed at times last season, and losing standout cornerback Antrel Rolle will not help them any. The secondary, which is usually a Miami stronghold, looked very suspect last season. The linebackers, especially the middle linebackers, struggled tremendously. The saving grace with the defense is that it was young last season and remains fairly intact.

So the question becomes, what can Hurricane fans expect from UM in 2005? The answer, in my opinion, is the same thing as 2004. Miami is a solid team but I do not think it is a championship-caliber team. Unfortunately, at the University of Miami, you have to be a contender every year.

Miami is a regular season favorite, but it is not likely to be playing for a national title in Januaryh 2006. On paper, UM looks pretty similar to the team that it had last season, and that means it will likely be 9-2 or 8-3 again.

I know what you are thinking. Why am I being so negative? However, I don’t see it that way. On the contrary, I think 9-2 or 8-3 is a very good season. I am in the minority of people who understand it is unrealistic to be a contender every year, and that you are going to have some retooling or off years. I’ll take 9-2 or 8-3 next year, and if Miami gets in the BCS, everyone should be happy.

The unrealistic expectations of this team will make everyone think the season is a failure if Miami doesn’t contend for a national title. However, look at the roster, and the roster of the teams who get to play for the title, and you may realize something: Miami did not underachieve last year and they won’t underachieve in 2005 either. The Hurricanes were simply not capable of living up to expectations set way too high.

Darren Grossman can be contacted at d.grossman@umiami.edu.