As part of the dwindling off season, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!As part of the dwindling off season, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!
Announced in the midst of Conference Championship games in 2012, the Canes filled their 2013 schedule with a game that can only be called the Empty Calorie Special. It's like that meal you have that doesn't do anything for you. You actually ate, the food might even have tasted good, but you didn't get any nutritional value from what you consumed. Kinda like a trip to McFatty's at 3 AM after partying in the Grove.
The last addition to the schedule, and the next game to get previewed, features a never before seen match-up: the Savannah State Tigers coming to SunLife Stadium on September 21st to face the Miami Hurricanes.
For Savannah State, this position (travelling to play a vastly superior opponent with no hope for victory) is one they are well acquainted with. Last year, the Tigers traveled to Stillwater, OK to take on Oklahoma State in the season opener. The Cowboys dropped a video game score in this game, winning 84-0. Two weeks later, following a bye and massive national media scrutiny, Savannah State played another road game, this one a bit closer to home as they traveled to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. Vegas oddsmakers had so little faith in Savannah State that they made FSU a 70.5 point (!!!) favorite. Another blowout ensued, as the Seminoles pitched a 55-0 shutout. That game could have been much worse: it was stopped with nearly 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter due to a dangerous and powerful lightening storm.
So, if you're keeping score as you read this post, Savannah State lost their first 2 games of last year by a combined score of 139-0. In those games, they gave up over a point per minute. In football. That is, as the French say, horrible.
In the past 4 seasons (2009-2012), Savannah State has an overall record of 5-38. They have only won more than 1 game in a season once (2009), and have been outscored nearly 6-1 over that same timeframe.
For Miami, this is just another in a string of games against MEAC/SWAC competition more commonly known as "filler games". Over the past 15 years (maybe longer), the Hurricanes have repeatedly played the likes of Bethune Cookman, Charleston Southern, Florida A&M and McNeese State. None of these teams has been able to sustain a serious upset bid for more than about a half of football.
Since 2008, the combined score when playing Bethune-Cookman (2011 and 2012), Florida A&M (2010), and Charleston Southern (2008) is 180-31, with the Canes holding the upper hand. And, that's not even taking into account the 60something to less-than-20 beatdowns the Canes doled out to these same type of teams in the early 2000s. Overall, that's still pretty damn good.
As discussed above, this is a game that pits 2 very different teams together. One, the plucky underdog hoping to pull off a once in a lifetime miracle. The other, a rebuilding power looking to continue its upwards ascension after years of average (or below) achievement.
Savannah State looks to, well, keep the score respectable. After last year's showings against ACC and Big-12 foes, the Tigers will play mainly for pride. They simply do not have the athletes to compete with Miami for very long.
Coming off a bye week, Miami will look to build on the momentum from games against FAU and Florida. The team will probably build a nice lead early, which will enable plenty of rotation players and backups to get significant playing time in the second half.
Players to Watch
QB Antonio Bostick returns to lead the Tigers offense for another year. He was the leading passer (41.7% completions, 1,629 yards, 8TD, 13INT, 38 sacks) and rusher (345 yards) last season, and seems to be one of the few playmakers Savannah State features. He might make a couple plays, and could even lead a scoring drive or 2.
WR Simon Heyward is Bostick's favorite receiver, coming off a season where he caught a team leading 44 balls for 571 yards and 6 scores. WRs Dylan Cook and Kris Drummond fill out the rotation.
While I've named 3 players from the Tigers, I would honestly be surprised if we remembered any of their names once this game is concluded.
For Miami, the key players to watch are "Athleticism", "Consistency", "Execution" and "Focus". Could QB Stephen Morris have a nice 300 yard, 4 TD game before being pulled? Yes. Could budding superstar RB Duke Johnson have 250 all-purpose yards and 3 scores? Sure he could. Could Phillip Dorsett, Allen Hurns, Malcolm Lewis, Rayshawn Scott or any other receiver have 150 yards and 3 scores? Why not. This team is vastly superior to the opponent here, but that isn't the thing to watch, in my opinion.
For the Canes, the disparity in athleticism will be striking. This team is bigger, faster, and stronger than Savannah State. Period. For me, I will want to see consistent execution of the schemes employed on both sides of the ball. I want to see very few penalties and other "mental mistakes" that have seemed to plague this team in the recent past.
With proper consistency, execution, and focus, this game should be nothing more than a glorified practice. While I will be cheering for Morris' bullet passes, Dorsett's blazing speed, and Duke's amazing....dukeness, these are the areas that will have my rapt attention both during game action and post game evaluation.
Savannah State, a public Historically Black University (HBCU) with roughly 4,550 students, has used its football team as a means through which they can support all of their athletic programs. Primary among the ways they do this is by agreeing to play top ranking FBS schools for a fee. The New York Times reported that for the 139-0 shellackings the Tigers received from Oklahoma State and Florida State to start last season, Savannah State was paid $860,000. FBSchedules.com says the fee they will receive from The U to be $375,000.
So, over the course of 3 games to start 2 seasons, Savannah State will have received $1.235 Million for their athletic department. Last year's figure, discussed by both Deadspin and Forbes, increased Savannah State's revenue by 60% (!!!!) and covered nearly 17% of the entire athletic budget for the last year.
If you were wondering why they would sign up for games like this one, there's your answer.
This game won't be in doubt for much longer than it takes the Canes to find the endzone the first time. Savannah State is coming for a payday, and the Canes will look to quickly, and perhaps viciously (according to the scoreboard) dispatch of an over matched cupcake.
Much like going on a late night McFatty's run, this game will taste good and feel alright while it's here. But, in the end, it won't give any lasting satisfaction.