Heavy passing in forecast when Miami meets Miami
Miami RedHawks at Miami Hurricanes
Friday, Sept. 1 - 7 p.m. ET
Hard Rock Stadium -- Miami, Fl.
By MIKE SMITH
Miami versus Miami.
Two teams sharing at least part of a name will meet Friday when the Miami University RedHawks visit the University of Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium in ... of course ... Miami, Florida.
Both teams also share a goal of improving on their respective 2022 seasons. The Hurricanes - once among college football's elite - went 5-7 last year, ending a string of eight straight bowl appearances. Miami's RedHawks, meanwhile, scrambled their way to a Bahamas Bowl berth. However, key injuries contributed to a final record of 6-7. They were hoping for more, especially in conference play.
Miami (OH) went 5-3 in MAC play, finishing two games behind Ohio. Most of the dropoff came on offense as MU lost the services of starting QB Brett Gabbert for much of the year after he was injured in the 2022 opener. With the junior back, as well as an influx of receiving talent, Head Coach Chuck Martin has reasons to be optimistic about his 2023 RedHawks.
Defense should once again . . .
. . . be a strength for MU, but its offense has potential to take a big step up. It will get a stern first test when it matches up against a strong Miami (FL)secondary.
The Hurricanes won all three previous meetings. The closest game was a 20-17 Hurricanes victory in 1946. Miami (OH) drove to the Hurricane's nine-yard line late in the game but was stopped on fourth down. Sid Gillman coached that squad, which featured Ara Parseghian at running back. Miami (OH) finished 7-3 that year, while Miami (FL) went 8-2.
The most recent meeting was a 54-3 Hurricane's verdict in 1987. That Miami (FL) team went 12-0 and defeated No. 1 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to claim a national championship.
"Obviously, (it's) one of the storied programs in the history of (college) football," RedHawks Head Coach Chuck Martin said this week. "It's a pretty cool, unique opportunity," he continued, noting that UM puts a very high level of talent on the field. Our players "understand that and respect that. But they're also really excited about the opportunity. We're planning on going there and taking advantage of it and competing our tails off."
Here's more on the two teams:
MIAMI HURRICANES (2022: 5-7, 3-5 ACC)
>> Watching game tape on the Hurricanes will be of limited value. Among seven new assistants are new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Ironically, the new defensive coordinator is former Miami University assistant Lance Guidry. His time with the RedHawks included serving as interim head coach in Miami's 2010 GoDaddy Bowl victory over Louisville.
>> Guidry was technically defensive coordinator at Tulane for about three weeks during late January and early February. Miami (FL), however, entered the picture and hired Guidry, who spent last year at Marshall. That Thundering Herd defense ranked seventh nationally in total defense and sixth in scoring defense. Marshall was third in run defense and pass defense efficiency.
>> "You look at Marshall's defense, and they were (a) salty (group)," Martain said. "I'm sure Miami (FL) would love their kids to play like Marshall's kids played a year ago. They played their tails off and were really sound. They fly around."
>> There are a number of questions about the 2023 Hurricanes, but its clear the RedHawks passing game will be facing a UM strength. Junior safety Kamren Kinchens, who picked off six opponent passes last year and led the team in tackles (59), is back after earning First Team All-American honors in 2022. Martin feels the Hurricanes could field two NFL first round draft choices in this year's secondary. Senior Te'Cory Couch and junior James Williams are also returnees along the back line. If there is a question mark, its at corners, where transfers are likely to replace two players Miami (FL) sent to the NFL (DJ Ivey - Bengals and Tyrique Stevenson (Bears).
>> Former five-star recruit Leonard Taylor III is one of three D-linemen returning in 2023. However, transfers could figure significantly along the offensive line and linebacker units.
>> The Hurricane's ranked 85th in total offense last year. They were 59th in passing and 95th in rushing. It was disappointing given the kind of year Tyler Van Dyke had in 2021. As a freshman, he completed 202 of 324 passes (62.3%), totaling 2,931 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. Last year, while operating in coordinator Josh Gattis' offense and dealing with a shoulder issue, the former ACC Freshman of the Year slipped to 1,844 yards, 10 TDs and five picks despite completing 63.2 percent of his attempts.
>> New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson (previously at Houston) will bring an "air raid" offense to Miami (FL). That should invigorate the Hurricane's passing game, especially with Van Dyke now healthy.
>> UM will use non-conference play to work on its receiving weapons/depth to support the new offense, but it returns several of its top receivers from 2022.. Colbie Young recorded 32 catches for a total of 376 yards and a team-high five touchdowns last year. Frank Ladson Jr. Brashard Smith and Xavier Restrepo all had at least 21 catches and 240 yards. Former Oregon tight end Cam McCormick will try to stay both healthy and productive
>> A pair of transfers will bolster an offensive line that brings back junior Zion Nelson (6-5, 316) and Jalen Rivers (6-5, 325, 4-year, R-So). He missed the end of 2022 with an injury, but was the top-graded lineman last year. Joining him are Javion Cohen (Alabama, Second Team All-SEC) and Matt Lee, who was a three-year starter at Central Florida.
>> Henry Parrish Jr. (5-10, 190, JR.) is back after leading UM's rushing attack last year. He logged 131 carries for a total of 617 yards (4.7 ypc) and four TDs. He also caught 17 balls for another 120 yards and two TDs.
>> Andres Borregales made 17-of-20 field goal attempts with a long of 49 last year.
MIAMI REDHAWKS (2022: 6-7, 5-3 MAC)
See complete preseason preview: HERE
After previous time at Miami (FL) as an assistant, Mark Cristobal was hired as head coach in December of 2021. His first season didn't go well, as the Hurricanes won just five games and fell short of bowl eligibility.
The push is on to bring UM back to national prominance, and Crostobal's quick shake up of his coaching staff in a step in getting Miami (FL) back on track.
The new, pass-friendly offense could put up some big numbers this year with Van Dyke healthy. Just how much the new receivers and offensive line will click in a new system remains to be seen. It could take a while to function smoothly, but the athleticism is already in place through much of the lineup.
For what its worth, the Hurricanes will likely go back two years to scout a Gabbert-led MU team. However, openers are fertile ground for springing new systems, tweaks to established systems or even a few gadget plays.
"It's definitely unsettling as far as game-planning," Martin said. "We'll be prepared, but you've kind of got to be prepared for anything in the opener."
The RedHawks defense figures as a strength this year, but must be wary of giving up big plays. Getting stops will be important, as the Hurricanes could employ no-huddle/audible play calling that could keep defenders on the field for extended periods. Depth may be tested relatively early. Certainly, creating turnovers and/or any RedHawk drives that could eat clock time would help.
A final factor is weather. As of Monday, the weather report called for scattered showers (50%) in the area.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.