As part of the dwindling offseason, 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!
First test of the year
Let's be real for a minute: the games vs. Bethune Cookman and at FAU should both be easy, 21+ point victories for the Hurricanes. After 2 games that should rightfully be lopsided victories for the Canes, the 3rd game of the year (9/19 at 3:30 PM EST ABC) against a solid Nebraska Conrhusker team will be no such cakewalk.
Nebraska starts a new era in 2015, replacing the sometimes abrasive Bo Pellini with former Oregon State Coach Mike Riley.
This should make the Cornhuskers a different team than the one Miami saw last season.
Whether they are improved or not remains to be seen.
Riley and OC Danny Langsdorf will likely implement a pro style offense, with a lot more pocket passing than what fans in Lincoln are used to.
How quickly QB Tommy Armstrong can adjust could be a huge key to the season. Armstrong was effective as a runner last year, but inconsistent as a passer, completing just at 53% of his attempts.
And he will no longer have the threat of the explosive Ameer Abdullah behind him.
Terrell Newby and Imani Cross will look to pick up the slack at RB. But replacing Abdullah is like replacing Duke Johnson. Some drop off seems imminent.
So Armstrong will have to take on a bigger role. He has talent around him, but learning a new system will be a challenge.
Nonetheless this Nebraska team has enough talent that they will be a major step up for the 'Canes after tune-ups again Bethune and Florida Atlantic.
If UM wants to get back in the National Picture, they need more than a good showing September 19th. They need to win.
Riley and Nebraska won't make it easy
Through the 80s and 90s, the Huskers and the Canes played often, more than once for the National Championship. After having played the 11th game of the series last year, a 41-31 Nebraska victory, the series stands at 6-5 in favor of Nebraska.
Here are some of the more memorable moments:
Players to watch
For Nebraska it is more than just Armstrong.
WR Jordan Westercamp is an exciting player who can make all kinds of big plays and circus catches. If 'Canes top cover Tracy Howard is ever going to live up to his massive potential, this should be a match-up he rises to the occasion for.
De'Mornay Pierson-El is another excellent option at wide out. The 5'9 185 pound Pierson-El is also dangerous as a returner. UM must be very aware of him every time he touches the ball.
Jamal Turner is yet another talented target for Armstrong. Howard will need some help from fellow corners Corn Elder and Artie Burns to contain this group.
Newby is former 4 star recruit, so when the Huskers do go to the ground, Miami will need to bring the wood to bring him down.
Last season the Nebraska O Line manhandled UM's front. And while they lose three starters from that unit, this is a game where players like Michael Wyche, Calvin Heurtelou, and Courtel Jenkins will absolutely need to be solid up front.
Senior T Alex Lewis is back to anchor what should be another very good line for the Cornhuskers.
Pro Style offense or not, if the Hurricanes can not hold their ground in the middle, Riley and Co. will run the ball right down their throats.
Defensively Nebraska will have to adjust to life with out explosive pass rusher Randy Gregory.
But they have a pair of very solid interior players in Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins (Combined 17 TFL and 7.5 sacks in 2014) to build around.
Michael Rose-Ivey, who missed all of 2014 with injury, is back to lead the LBs.
Even with out Gregory, the front 7 of Nebraska is a solid one that will be a big time challenge for young Hurricanes offensive linemen Brandon Linder, Kc McDermott, and Trevor Darling.
Brad Kaaya will need as much time as possible to find Rashawn Scott and Stacy Coley downfield.
S Nate Gerry, who picked off 5 passes a year ago, will do his best to make it difficult for Kaaya.
Well here is it for Al Golden and Co. again.
Yet another chance for a marquee win.
And while Nebraska is not quite a Top 10 quality team, they are a stiff challenge for a 'Canes team coming off of a terribly disappointing 6-7 season.
Player for player the teams are very close in talent (Vegas had this one as a pick em last month).
UM should have an advantage at QB, and if their offensive line holds up the Miami skill position players could be in for a big day.
To me this game is going to come down to how the Hurricanes front 7 handles the big Cornhuskers' offensive line.
Let's face it, they got bullied last year.
It might be a good thing for Miami that Riley's system is based more on quick passes than bludgeoning runs.
Nonetheless they need to get in Armstrong's face, and control the run on early downs.
If they can not get some sacks and tackles for loss, this game will be yet another missed opportunity during the Golden Era.
On the other hand if they hold up, it should result in a 3-0 start and some much needed momentum for a program and staff in a critical 2015 season.