Canes Fans! At 12:30PM ET on Saturday the Miami Hurricanes’ football season officially starts. The U opens the season bolstering their highest preseason ranking since my senior year (2010) at #18 in the Associated Press and Coaches Poll. The season kicks off with a ton of optimism and buzz within the team and fans across the nation. In week 1, the Canes will welcome Bethune-Cookman (B-CU) to Hard Rock Stadium for their annual Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) matchup.
Before we get into the Food & Football, let’s clear the air on FCS matchups. ::steps on soapbox:: Every year there’s a select group of fans that complain about playing an FCS team and how “back in the day we played anyone, anywhere”. Newsflash! Almost every Power 5 team plays an FCS team. Last year Bama played Chattanooga and Clemson played South Carolina State and then met in the CFP Championship. They both play FCS teams this year. And, our beloved 2001 National Championship Team (best college team ever!) played Division 1-A (now FCS) Troy State. So, save it! The U gets a practice game, and the FCS school gets funding for their Athletic Department which doesn’t have the revenue of Power-5 schools. ::steps off soapbox:: Now to the good stuff, Food & Football.
B-CU is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) that began as a co-ed high school in 1904, when Daytona Education and Industrial Training School (founded by Mary Bethune) merged with the Cookman Institute. The now university, as of 2007, is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. Their nickname is the Wildcats and their mascot goes by “Wil D Cat.”
Since we cannot use the mascot for “Game Meal” inspiration, like we try to do, we will have to focus on the location. When I think of B-CU, I think of two things: attending the Florida Classic and Black College Reunion Weekend. While you’re in Daytona Beach, like most beach towns, you’ll find a lot of seafood restaurants and because of this, having seafood at your tailgate will best represents B-CU.
Like all FCS matchups, this is a pseudo practice game. While the ‘W’ is virtually guaranteed by showing up, this time should be used to get better as they finally lineup against an opponent. This is especially true for the 2s and 3s. Expect to see them starting in the 2nd quarter as Coach Richt tries to get game experience at needed positions. While the score might not be the typical 56 or even 70 to 3, the game experience will payoff down the road. As an added bonus, Canes fans expect to see the highly touted freshmen QB N’kosi Perry (#5) in action, even if it’s just running the option in the 4th. Here are the 3 Things to Watch and 3 Keys to the Game:
3 Things to Watch
1. WR Play: With All-American, Ahmmon Richards (#82) doubtful for this game with a hamstring, this will open up reps for others. (If he was 100% he wouldn’t have played more than a few series.) While there is a lot of depth at WR, it hasn’t been proven on Game Day. This will be their time to get their feet wet and adjusted to game speed. I know everyone is eager to see freshmen Jeff Thomas (#4) and Mike Hartley (#3) aka “4.3” because of their speed. Let’s not forget those other players that were once the big craze like Dionte Mullins (84#), or returning from an injury like the big guy, 6’ 5, 220lb, Lawrence Cager (#18). If Cager develops, he will be vital in goal line offense given his frame and the questions at TE behind Chris Herndon (#23) to run 2-TE sets.
2. 2nd String Run Game: The O-line took a major hit when Odogwu and Linder transferred. While the 1st string is solid, they can’t play the whole game. Building a quality rotation will be key these first 2 weeks. The RBs had a similar summer with Yearby entering the draft and Edwards transferring. Worsening the situation, The Canes had a RB flip at the last minute in recruiting and 2 of the 4 current RBs are coming off of injury. After Mark Walton (#1), Travis Homer (#24) will need to get ready in a hurry as the backup.
3. Secondary: The secondary is expected to be the defense’s weakest link, with two transfers at DB, and one DB that was converted to Safety and a host of 1st and 2nd year players with limited game action. While they should be able to overwhelm B-CU off of pure talent, they need to work on the little things like communication since this will be their first game action as a unit.
3 Keys to the Game
1. Play to the Hurricane standard, not the competition level.
2. Work on the fundamentals. While The U will be bigger, stronger and faster than B-CU, don’t rely on athleticism. Perfect your technique.
3. Make each rep a quality rep!
The Hurricane Standard Checklist
◻ Beat FSU – If Miami had a 1 win season, it better be this game
◻ Beat Other Rivals on Schedule – 2017: Notre Dame and VT
◻ Win 10+ Games – Double digit wins (for most teams) starts the convo of a “good year”
◻ Win Conference Division – ACC Coastal: includes Duke, UNC, VT, GT, Pitt and UVA
◻ Win Conference Championship – ACC: vs winner of Atlantic Division
◻ Win Bowl Game – Hopefully the CFP Playoff semifinals or New Year’s Six Bowl
◻ Win National Championship – Why they play the game
◻ Undefeated Season – The icing on the cake