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UM title winners think current team close to big things

Despite some UM miscues, members of the '83 title team think the 'Canes are poised for big things.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- For University of Miami fans wanting a return to national prominence, seeing members of the 1983 national champion Hurricanes on the Sun Life Stadium turf Friday night brought back great memories.


Watching the current Hurricanes dismantle Florida Atlantic University 34-6 probably had some among the UM faithful wondering if this could be the beginning of another championship season.


Unrealistic? Not necessarily, just premature.


"All these first games are hard," coach Al Golden said afterward. "We have no idea what they're going to do. They're different on special teams, we saw three different quarterbacks. Opening games are hard."


Let's remember, this was a season opener against an inferior opponent. And with the Florida Gators coming to town next Saturday, Miami's playbook likely was missing a few pages.


Then again, the Hurricanes weren't afraid to give the Gators and other future opponents something to think about. Receiver Herb Waters ran 63 yards on an end-around to make the score 27-6 late in the third quarter.


Miami outgained FAU 503-250 overall, with Duke Johnson rushing 19 times for a career-high 186 yards.


"We just get a feel of how good we can be, minus the penalties (8 for 67 yards) and errors and things of that sort," said Johnson, who said he was fine despite having been given a sideline concussion test.


Despite easily winning the yardage battle, Miami did show a need to improve in various areas.


Stephen Morris completed 15 of 27 passes for 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but he and his receivers seemed a bit out of sync. Freshman receiver Stacy Coley had two catches for 19 yards but dropped two would-be touchdown passes. The Hurricanes were just 4 of 14 on third down.


Golden expressed disappointment in the passing game.


"On Monday and Tuesday, I thought we were real sharp in the passing game," he said. "It's a shame. It looked like we didn't have our timing, and we have to work on that. Obviously, that was reflective in our third downs. We need to be on more third-and-shorts, too."


Miami's defense, which allowed 30.5 points per game last year, got off to a good start. FAU ran for just 133 yards total and suffered five sacks for 24 yards.


Winning the season opener was something that eluded the 1983 Hurricanes, who lost at Florida 28-3.


Members of that team not only hope for some revenge next week, they expect big things soon from the Hurricanes.


"Absolutely," said David Heffernan, a Miami lawyer who was an offensive tackle on that championship team. "Hopefully, the NCAA, sooner or later actually does something, but what I think coach Golden has done and the recruiting he's been able to do under this sort of NCAA cloud, he's convinced these kids to buy into the fact that, 'Look, don't worry about that.' "


Jay Brophy, a linebacker on the team, lives in Akron, Ohio, where he's probably outnumbered a zillion-to-one combined by Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame fans.


"They hate us, and I hate them more," Brophy said. "I don't care. I wear my 'Canes stuff proudly all the time."


Brophy said he believes the Hurricanes are close to competing for national championships again.


"One big reason is (assistant coach) Artie Kehoe is back with the offensive line," Brophy said. "I'm going to tell you right now, when (Miami) struggled at times, Artie Kehoe was not here. I truly believe he is a difference maker.


"When you're at The U, it's a totally different feeling than anybody else -- I don't care what anybody else says. I think Al Golden has brought an attitude back to Miami."


That attitude, according to Brophy, means good times are ahead.


"I'm excited," Brophy said. "I think sky's the limit and I think we're going to be back in he national championship picture, if not this year, than in the next year or so."


Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.