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Visiting Toledo Should be a Tune-up Game

With these Canes, it likely won’t be

NCAA Football: Savannah State at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Before any games were played and the fanbase was ready for a return to dominance, Miami’s early schedule was looked at as a great chance for the Canes to get their legs under them before the games really started to matter. Savannah State, Toledo, FIU, these games were going to be easy wins that would serve as a preseason for Miami. Now, with this team executing so poorly to start the season, Miami-Toledo suddenly looks like a closer game than it should be.

Miami can go out to Toledo, blow them out from start to finish and prove this opinion completely wrong. It’s hard, however, to have a wire-to-wire blowout when you can’t run the football with any semblance of consistency. Or when the starting quarterback still can’t hit open receivers. Or when the coaching staff is still figuring things out.

This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It shouldn’t even be a thought that Miami might get into a close game with Toledo. When Miami was a top ten team still, this could be considered a trap game, on the road, at noon against a team that the Canes struggled to put away until late in the game. Last year Miami had been off for several weeks following the actual hurricane but the game was still played in the comforts of Hard Rock Stadium. Now The U needs to travel up to Ohio to battle a team that will be upset minded and almost certainly give the Canes their best shot.

Toledo is going to line up and spread the ball out, the first true test for Miami’s mostly unproven cornerbacks. Jhavontae Dean didn’t inspire confidence against LSU and Trajan Bandy has yet to play a full game against an opponent near his talent level. This could turn into a high scoring affair, especially if the Canes continue struggling to run the football.

NCAA Football: Savannah State at Miami
Trajan Bandy and the rest of the secondary is going to need to play well if they plan to shut down Toledo’s spread offense
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The stat sheet may not show it but the Canes didn’t run effectively against Savannah State, up until Lorenzo Lingard got it going late. Travis Homer averaged a paltry 5.4 yards per carry against a team that wasn’t up to competing with Miami’s scout team. Miami can’t control the flow of the game if they can’t burn clock and pick up chunk yardage with their runs. The offensive line continues to prove it can’t be depended on to do much very well. They can’t generate push for their rushers and can’t protect the quarterback very well.

Speaking of quarterback, the Canes will enter Week 3 with Malik Rosier firmly entrenched as the start. If Miami actually goes out and loses to Toledo, all bets should be off. Richt would, likely, have no other option but to replace Rosier. But even if the Hurricanes win, and they better win, Rosier needs to continue showing improvement.

Going 8-12 with two TDs against an FCS dreg is nothing to be proud of. The Senior signal caller will likely need to be the one carrying Miami into a game against an aggressive passing offense. If the defense can’t stop Toledo’s offense, Rosier is going to need to go drive for drive with them, delivering accurate passes and converting third downs. If he can’t do that, the line continues to prove it can’t run the football and Miami’s secondary gets shredded, this could be a long afternoon.

For a Miami team that was supposed to roll over teams this season, recognizing that a trip to Toledo won’t be a tune-up game is a disheartening realization.