2019 will end in the Walk-Ons Independence Bowl Thursday and the Canes will be looking to finish to season above .500. In their way stands La Tech who would love to be the 2nd Group of 5 team to take down Miami, in what should amount to a home game for the Bulldogs in Shreveport. So much has been shown this year how Miami struggles after a bye week so it will be interesting to see what Manny Diaz has in store on the 26th. Miami will be without several key contributors as Michael Pinckney, Jonathan Garvin, Jeff Thomas, Navaughn Donaldson and DeeJay Dallas will all miss the game for a myriad of reasons. This means several young players will be getting their 1st auditions for the 2020 season. Manny Diaz also hasn’t announced who will start at QB, so that mystery could change the complexion of the game.
Can We Block?
As most games in 2019, Miami’s offense will only go as far as the offensive line takes them. Against FSU and Louisville the Canes pass protection was solid and Jarren Williams carved up both defenses, but in the final two games, the line struggle from the beginning of the season re-emerged. La Tech only generated 20 sacks as a team all season long. They are led by Milton Williams who picked up 4 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries on the year. Amik Robertson garnered 5 interceptions on the season so Miami will need to account for him when throwing the ball. Miami must be careful with the ball, and give our QB time to throw the ball.
Stop the Run
La Tech would love to establish the run and make their offense a 2 way go. They are led by Justin Henderson a 5’10” junior from Lake Wales, FL. The junior ran for 967 yards on 5.8 YPC and added 15 TDS on the ground. We’ve seen in some games Miami’s defense struggle to slow the opposing team down on the ground, and with Pinckney out, Shaquille Quarterman and Sam Brooks Jr will have to have big games. The Bulldogs QB J’Mar Smith is also a threat with his feet, so the Canes will need to play with gap integrity.
Miami vs Miami
Much like games vs Georgia Tech, FIU, UNC and Duke, the Canes will be their own biggest opponent. Come out flat against an inferior opponent and Miami will lose again against a group of 5 team. If Miami comes out and plays their B or A game, this one shouldn’t be close. The problem is Miami has been brutally bad after bye weeks, and there isn’t a ton of motivation for these guys to play well. The hope is that Miami plays a bunch of young players who have a chip on their shoulder, and play with a reckless abandon that Miami has missed for most of the year. Manny Diaz and his staff have heard criticism for the better part of 6 weeks now, so it’s time to put up or shut up.