It feels great to be talking about ’Canes football again. State of the U brings you a preview of Saturday afternoon’s tilt between the Toledo Rockets and Miami Hurricanes, the first game for Miami in over two weeks. So without further ado, let’s get into some football talk.
Saturday’s game will be the Hurricanes’ second of the season. Selected in the MAC media poll as the favourite to win the conference and championship, Toledo will arrive at Hard Rock Stadium with a 3–0 record, a high-tempo offense, and plenty of confidence. This matchup could be just what Miami needs as they press the restart button on their season.
1 vs. 1 Matchup of the Day
WR Cody Thompson (six foot two, 205 pounds) vs. CB Dee Delaney (six foot one, 200 pounds)
The Hurricanes don’t know how good the defense and the team can be, given the small sample size of games they’ve played. Saturday afternoon will present another step toward answering that question. Toledo brings a competent passing attack, one that centers around their quarterback, Logan Woodside, and a star at receiver, Cody Thompson. Thompson’s a gifted senior who has been Woodside’s go-to guy in the passing game. In Toledo’s first three games, he’s surpassed the 100-yards receiving mark. Thompson currently is tied for sixth in the country in receptions over 10 yards.
This past weekend he accounted for 178 receiving yards on nine receptions and scored three touchdowns against Tulsa. While Woodside climbs atop the record books, as SOTU’s own Michael Burns pointed out, Thompson is also a catalyst to those big plays in the passing game. The Rockets’ big-play threat currently has six receptions of 20 or more yards and 15 catches of 10 or more yards. Last season Thompson accounted for 64 receptions, 1,269 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns. He also finished the season ninth in the nation in yards per catch (19.83).
Dee Delaney’s first game as a Hurricane can be best described as a rollercoaster. Bethune-Cookman picked on him until he finally understood what BCU was attacking him with and used that information to improve as the game progressed. Delaney finished the opening game with seven tackles. Shadowing Thompson is a massive step up in competition, and this upcoming game should give coaches and fans an idea of whether Delaney is up for the regular challenge of FBS opponents or is in over his head.
Positional Matchup to Watch
Miami’s linebackers vs. Toledo’s running backs
It’s been a long layoff for the Hurricanes, so there is bound to be some rust. But if LBs Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud have their way, that won’t be the case. The linebackers have the opportunity to set the tone by stuffing the Rockets’ run game. While the Rockets like to get big plays in the air, they keep a balanced attack by running the ball more than airing it out (134 rushing attempts versus 94 pass attempts) to date. Miami’s ability to counter, limiting the Rockets run game, reducing Toledo’s play selection to increase Miami’s chances of victory against the Rockets.
Each of Toledo’s three running backs—Art Thompkins, Shakif Seymour, and Terry Swanson—have rushed for 100 yards to start the season. Swanson has received the majority of carries, yet the other two runners have a better yards-per-carry average of 6 or more yards than Swanson’s 4.84.
To make the job more manageable for the ’Canes, Miami’s front seven must shut down the run and force Woodside and the Rockets into making obvious passing downs Woodside and the Rockets offense into obvious passing downs makes for a great day for the defense as a whole.
Caneseye Players to Watch
In terms of Toledo’s offense, Woodside gets the publicity—and deservedly so. Although Swanson is underappreciated in an air raid offense, he’s able to be effective running the ball. He’ll force Miami to honor the run, which plays right into the Rocket’ game plan.
Ironman Football wrote an outstanding piece on Miami needing to lean on TE Christopher Herndon IV more than they have to start the season. The uptick in production should begin this week.
An honorable mention goes to QB Malik Rosier. Toledo gave up 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Golden Hurricane QB Chad President. With Miami’s desire to get the quarterback more involved in the run game, we could see Rosier run for daylight this Saturday afternoon.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!