Over the past 100 days, the official Facebook page of the Miami Hurricanes has had a countdown giving 100 reasons to be excited for the new season.
That countdown is – at last – nearing its end.
Just two days remain before the beginning of the 2012 Hurricanes football season. Miami will travel up to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to take on Boston College in a rematch of last year’s season finale.
“We’re excited to go on the road and kick off the ACC season against a team that got the best of us here at home last year,” coach Al Golden said. “It’s a great opportunity to go on the road. Certainly we’re carrying a lot of young guys with us in their first experience in the ACC and college football, but we’re excited about playing a really good team on the road Saturday in Chestnut Hill.”
Although many will be quick to recall the 24-17 loss to the Eagles on Senior Day last year at Sun Life Stadium, the makeup of both these teams will be almost entirely different when they take the field on Saturday. Former players such as Jacory Harris, Sean Spence and Lamar Miller are gone, and the Canes will field a team of young faces.
Boston College will also be without its all-time tackles leader and NFL first-round draft selection Luke Kuechly, who was picked by the Carolina Panthers. Both Bobby Swigert and Chris Pantale, last season’s top receiver and tight end, also won’t play due to injury.
“I think they’re different teams. They have 41 returning lettermen and we’ve lost 24 lettermen,” Golden said. “We’re a completely different team. They have almost all their starters back, including their quarterback who I think is a big-time player. Last year’s game doesn’t have a bearing.”
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani shared similar sentiments.
“It looks like there should be some interesting dynamics in that they’re back-to-back games, but they’re back to back nine or 10 months apart,” he said. “They’re two different teams. A lot of things have changed from that game.”
Simply labeling Miami a different team would be quite the understatement. Fifteen true freshmen are listed on the two-deep roster, and 34 players listed on the depth chart are freshmen or sophomores.
Golden has stated that the best available players will be the ones to take the field, regardless of what year they are.
“If they’re good enough, we’ve promoted them to be on the field and they will help us,” he said. “You’d be crazy to put someone out there who you don’t think can do the job. There’s nobody out there we don’t think can do the job.”
An early season, in-conference matchup provides a good opportunity for some of the younger players to establish themselves and start off their career on the right foot. The key, according to Golden, is to not let the moment affect them.
“I don’t think they’ll see me or the coaches act any differently,” he said. “I just hope they feed off of that and we hope they have positive energy and are excited and feel prepared and confident. Not worried so much about being anxious.”
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game can be heard live on 90.5 FM or wvum.org.