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Matchup of the Week: FAMU Edition

With a chaotic end to Fall Camp, the Mark Richt era is set to begin for the Miami Hurricanes, with their first test coming against FCS opponent FAMU.

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

FINALLY! FOOTBALL IN MIAMI IS BYKE!!! There’s more optimism around the Canes program than any point in the past decade+, and there’s plenty of reasons for it. First, Miami has an actual head coach now (swoon) in Mark Richt. Second, Miami brought in a defensive coordinator who is dedicated to playing an aggressive, relentless, 4-3 Miami Hurricanes-style defense. Lastly, Brad Kaaya is back and better. The unquestioned leader of this Miami team is back for his third (final?) season and looks to take the Canes to heights that haven’t been reached since Bush was in his first term as President.

Every week, SOTU does a micro-preview of the Canes’ opponent for the week, primarily focusing on the most important position, individual, or coaching matchup between teams.

Let’s take a look at the last time these teams played.

(This is basically a highlight tape)

With this week’s opponent not being Miami’s toughest competitor, the most important matchup *EYE* see is pretty straightforward and something everyone wants to see, and that’s how the offense will perform?

Miami Offense vs. FAMU Defense

Yes, I know, everyone wants to see the new defense finally be unleashed in this new scheme under defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, but personally, this new offense intrigues me more than the new defense. With the defense, we all know what we’re getting. We know Miami will flourish against a lesser opponent because even Onofrio’s (No D) defense looked decent playing substantially less-talented teams. But the offensive side of the ball is another story.

Brad Kaaya will lead his troops into battle under new offensive coordinators in an entirely new offense. The previous staff ran primarily out of the spread in what former OC James Coley called “tempro.” This may have been furthest from the truth, as it always seemed like Miami was snapping the ball with single-digit numbers on the play clock.

Now, with CMR and Thomas Brown at the helm of the offense, Miami replaces the spread system with a traditional, run-heavy, systematic pro offense that is based more on efficiency rather than explosive plays. While the spread system brought excitement, especially with Miami’s athletes, the Canes were rather predictable and inconsistent.

With a much more balanced approach, Richt & co. will put an emphasis on running the football, and the football faithful know that starts in the trenches. The Hurricanes offensive line struggled immensely in multiple facets last season. Pass pro, run blocking, and short yardage were all piss poor last season. This season, the O-line came into camp in much better shape with an entire year of experience under their belt. They returned every starter from last season after being hurt and immature in 2015. There are plenty of expectations for this group moving forward, but their ability to consistently perform will be under the biggest microscope.

The next biggest question for the Canes is, “who will Brad Kaaya throw to?” Behind star receiver Stacy Coley, Miami has question marks. Braxton Berrios is good and reliable but has struggled with injuries in his first two seasons. Multiple reports state he is in the best shape of his life and is more focused and determined as ever. A strong showing in the spring game solidified those statements. Transfer Dayall Harris is sure to split time with true freshman Ahmonn Richards at X (opposite Coley), who is arguably Miami’s fastest receiver. Miami’s receiver depth took a big hit when sophomore Lawrence Cager tore his ACL over the summer, ending his season. Miami’s most heralded recruit, Sam Bruce, will be sure to see plenty of action, but that will have to wait, as it was reported that he would be suspended for the FAMU game. Kaaya will have the luxury of relying on tight ends David Njoku, Chris Herndon and Stan Dobard, who will all see plenty of action this upcoming season.

With receiver depth and offensive line play being Miami’s biggest concerns on that side of the ball heading into the season, they will be the positions most closely watched in the upcoming game. With more emphasis on running the ball, that should bode well with running backs Mark Walton, Joe Yearby and Gus Edwards all splitting carries.

The running back and tight end groups should look good in this first game simply by taking advantage of their size, skill and athleticism against an inferior opponent. This game will provide a chance for Miami to work out the kinks of the offense and get in a rhythm before they head into the meat of the schedule. The defense will dominate, for sure, but the offense will be the side of the ball will be closely watched in this upcoming matchup. But don’t be too concerned, Brad Kaaya is still Miami’s QB.