The names and numbers were different, but Miami's 31-14 thrashing of West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl conjured up some memories of one-time dominating defenders.

Warren Sapp. Ray Lewis. Vince Wilfork.

Miami may not have a Sapp or Wilfork on its team now, but the Hurricanes have been an excellent defensive team with studs up front. One of its calling cards was a pressure-inducing defense that controlled the line of scrimmage against the run and got into the backfield.

That physical, fast group showed up in a huge way in Orlando by holding the Mountaineers to 229 total yards at just 3.5 yards per play in the Hurricanes' first bowl win since 2006.

To top it off, a number of those players like defensive tackles Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh, plus a freshman-led linebacker unit, are young and guaranteed to come back for at least one or more years.

In short, the stifling defenses full of "dudes" we've come to know from Miami in year's past might be on their way back around.

This isn't to use the "B-word." Miami isn't "back" -- not yet, and no individual bowl performance is going to change that. But there's enough young talent on both sides of the ball who showed up in the bowl victory -- from the aforementioned defensive players to running back Mark Walton and receiver Ahmmon Richards, who turned the momentum of the game in the second quarter -- to get excited about this team.

And if quarterback Brad Kaaya opts to return and improve on his skill set -- and if the offensive line can somehow improve by leaps and bounds -- the Hurricanes will be a trendy pick, that's for sure.

Finding consistency will be key. Miami won four games this season, then lost four in a row, then won four more. Those are growing pains, but eventually those ups and downs need to become less drastic. How this team grows over the offseason will determine whether first-year coach Mark Richt, with seemingly new life at his alma mater, can finally get The U back to the levels of success it once enjoyed.