University of Miami coaches, players, and fans all know what is at stake tomorrow afternoon when they host the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
A win would do wonders for the confidence and psyche of a team and fan base coming off of a 6-7 season, and hoping to make a run at the ACC Coastal Division Crown.
A loss and it's "same old, same old" for a beleaguered coaching staff, and a program that can't seem to make any traction.
No, it's not a conference game, and if they lose they can still attain their goal of winning the division and appearing in the ACCCG.
But if they fail against Mike Riley's club, it will do little to inspire the notion they can beat other top teams on the schedule like Georgia Tech, Clemson, and FSU.
So what will it take to win tomorrow?
With out further delay, here are my 3 keys to victory Vs Nebraska:
#1 Big players make big time plays in big time games - I am looking at you Brad Kaaya, Joe Yearby, Rashawn Scott, Deon Bush, and Al-Quadin Muhammad. Kaaya needs to pick apart a Cornhuskers secondary that is far from elite. Yearby needs to show he can do it all Vs better teams and not just FAU caliber opposition. Scott needs to use his big frame and athleticism to play like a next level WR. Bush has shown the propensity to make plays all over the field in big games, it needs to continue. And AQM needs a break out performance in the spotlight, that matches his immense talent. If the Hurricanes do not get elite performances from their elite players, it will be another disappointing afternoon in SLS.
#2 Protect Kaaya - UM can live with a false start here or there, but other than that, Trevor Darling, Kc McDermott, Nick Linder, Alex Gall, Danny Isidora and the rest of the big guys up front can ill afford mental mistakes. The UM sophomore QB has the skill set to make any throw you want. And he's done a better job this season maneuvering n the pocket to buy time. But against a Nebraska team that generally likes to create pressure with just its' front four, and protect a weaker back end, Kaaya needs time to find the open man. If he isn't harassed all afternoon, this match-up sets up nice for BK to toss upwards of 300 yards with a few scores as well.
#3 Win the Special Teams battle - The 'Canes have the much better athletes on the perimeter. That means their coverage and return units should have an advantage. Corn Elder, Stacy Coley, and Mark Walton will probably be your primary return men. All have the capability to break one. On the other end of things, Miami can ill afford to give a score (see Louisville opener last season) that swings momentum in a tight game.
Well there you have it Hurricanes fans. If Miami gets big time production from its' stars, protects its best player, and at least battles to a stand still on ST, they should get a much needed win over a name opponent this weekend.
Enjoy the game everyone.