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!
Miami opens the season against Florida Atlantic University under the lights on Friday, August 30th. Not only will this mark the beginning of what promises to be a great football season, but this game carries with it a connection to Miami's past.
FAU VISITS MIAMI
30 years ago, Miami's history began. Sure, they had a football team before 1983, but as far as anyone really knows, that year is when Miami truly arrived. Howard Schnellenberger was in his 4th year as coach of the Hurricanes, and had already taken them from the doldrums of college football, almost all the way to the top. In 1983, however, he achieved what he set out to achieve. In beating Nebraska, he brought Miami the first of five national titles, and for the next 20 years or so, Miami didn't stop.
It's unclear whether Miami will honor the legendary coach during this game, but they absolutely should. The game features the school where he began his college coaching career, and the school where he ended it. The game is being played 30 years since his first title. This game absolutely deserves to be played in honor of him.
Miami and FAU have never faced each other. FAU is still very much a fledgling program, although what Schnelly did there certainly set them on the right path. They are coming off two dismal seasons, a 1-11 2011 campaign under Schnelly in his last year, and a 3-9 campaign in 2012 under first year man Carl Pelini. In reality, this game should not be much of a contest. Miami is an experienced and talented team, and FAU is trying to recover from a bad few years.
They do have talent, however, and of course no team is to be overlooked in any week. This game may have an extra bit of oompf, however, given Coach Pelini's comment that Miami had sent people to the stands to watch their spring game. This would be an NCAA violation, although extremely difficult to prove, and was dismissed by the school as a joke. Whether it was meant that way or not, I'm sure that Golden doesn't like to have anyone question his methods, especially when those questions invoke a violation when Miami is waiting the NCAA to untangle their hands.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FAU is a senior and junior-laden team, but the offense will be in the hands of a new quarterback. They do return Jonathan Wallace, a senior RB who had over 600 yards and 6 touchdowns last season, and a stable of talented guys at wide receiver. The story here will of course be who takes over at QB, as last year they only had one other guy besides Graham Wallace take snaps, Stephen Curtis, and he is listed as a QB/P.
In even worse news for FAU, last year the defense allowed 30.8 points per game. Miami averaged 31.4 points per game last year. While FAU's defense may be a year older, so is Miami's potent offense, and with pro-spread freak James Coley leading the way, things are looking pretty bleak for the Owls.
As far as Miami goes, we just covered the offense a bit. Duke Johnson is a year older, Stephen Morris is a senior, the wide receivers are all ridiculous, and they also now include Stacy Coley. However, it's the defense that everyone is worried about, and this will be the perfect tune-up game for that side of the ball. FAU gave up 28 sacks last season to their opponents, and their offensive line is a mixture of upper and lower class men. There is no reason why Miami should not be able to pressure the FAU quarterback, which will only allow the revamped Canes secondary to have a great game. Tracy Howard is of course the player to watch back there, as he looks to take over Brandon McGee's spot as the leader of the secondary.
The game, being a home game, will of course be played at Sun Life Joe Robbie Landshark Stadium. The game will be played at 8pm, so the heat shouldn't be as bad, and assuming the lights will all function properly, it should be a fun time. We hope.