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Miami Hurricanes Football Game 1 Preview: 'Canes look to start fast Vs Bethune Cookman

The 2015 season is a critical one for the program and especially the coaching staff. An easy win against an overmatched would be a good start.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow evening's (6PM EST ESPN3) contest against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats is not one the 'Canes should have much trouble winning.

But in a must win (how many wins depends on who you ask) season for Al Golden and Co, that promises tons of scrutiny, just winning their opener may not be enough for the bloodthirsty Miami fan base.

The Hurricanes need to be dominant.

However, upon closer examination of BC (9-3, 6-2 in the MEAC last season),  they may not be the total cupcake opponent you think.

They have a new Head Coach in Terry Sims, promoted when the very successful Brian Jenkins (46-14 at BC) left for Alabama State.

And Sims has plenty of talent to call upon on his roster, including former Miami players in RB Danny Dilliard, DB Thomas Finnie, DE David Perry, and WR Jontavious Carter.  All in all the squad features 25 players from the 305. And that's always a good way to build your program.

Undersized (6'0 185) QB Quentin Williams, a former Mr.Football in the state of Florida, is the key though.  Williams can run and pass with equal aplomb, and can be hard to contain when he gets going.

If Miami does not show up with fire in the their bellies, this is a roster good enough to make them sweat a little.

Nonetheless, with the Hurricanes deep and talented roster (I still say third best personnel behind Clemson & FSU), that should win convincingly and also find a way to get young/back-up players plenty of reps.

Here's a closer look at what to expect:

When Miami has the football - This game is a perfect opportunity for the offensive line to begin to gel.  Sunny Odogwu, Alex Gall, and the health of Kc McDermott are the biggest question marks for the unit.  But against a D that only returns two starters, UM should move the ball at will.  Big games for Joe Yearby, Mark Walton, and Trayone Gray could make for an easy day for QB Brad Kaaya.   I expect the 'Canes to run the ball early and often to set up play action passes.  When Miami  does throw, Stacy Coley and Rashawn Scott should be wide open, despite the fact the Wildcats have a solid all-around DB in Marquis Drayton.  If the game gets out of hand, it will be fun to get first looks at players like freshmen WR Lawrence Cager and OT Tyree St Louis. Hopefully back-up QB Malik Rosier also gets some burn.

When Bethune-Cookman has the ball -  Williams can be a pain to contain, so the 'Canes D line needs to have solid lane integrity when rushing the passer.  BC did allow 46 sacks last season though, which may be reason for optimism that potential star pass rushers Al-Quadin Muhammad (suspended), Trent Harris, and Chad Thomas get rolling.  RBs Michael Jones and Anthony Jordan are a solid 1-2 punch, and BC may look to establish the run to keep Miami's pass rush at bay.  DC Mark D'Onofrio would be smart to unleash Jermaine Grace, Raphael Kirby, and any number of the Hurricanes talented safeties on some run blitzes to get ahead on down and distances.  If they are able to slow down the Wildcats on the ground, it should make for a much easier day.


Prediction: Miami 42 Bethune 13. I am not sure BC provides much in the way of competition for the 'Canes but if they keep it close for say a quarter and a half, I would not be shocked.  UM's O line is a work in progress.  If they were playing the Wildcats in Week 4 or 5, I'd expect the game to get even more out of hand.  Look for Kaaya to be sharp early, and the running game (especially Gray) to explode late.  A good sign for Miami would also be a TD or 2 from the D or ST.