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Would You Rather?: Evaluating how Miami’s and Louisiana Tech’s rosters stack up

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It’s time to shuffle the deck of both rosters and see which players or position group you favor in Thursday’s matchup.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 09 Louisville at Miami Photo by Aaron Gilbert/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With all of the Early Signing Day action taking over last week, the focus on the impending matchup with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-3) may have been pushed to your mental scout team. There are several young Canes players to watch in this ACC vs. Conference USA showdown. They’ll truly be needed after Jonathan Garvin, Trevon Hill, Michael Pinckney, and Jeff Thomas announced they will not be participating in the Independence Bowl. As a primer for Miami’s seventh consecutive bowl game, let’s take a closer look at how the two rosters stack up with a depth chart contest of “Would You Rather?”

Quarterback

With the quarterback carousel in full spin, there’s no indication if Jarren Williams, Tate Martell, or N’Kosi Perry will be under the helm on Thursday. The path is more direct for Louisiana Tech. J’mar Smith will make his eleventh start of the season against the Canes. Smith passed for 2,814 yards, 17 TDs, and 4 INTs in the regular season. His 65.8 completion percentage puts him at 20th in the nation. Smith also leads a team that’s 30th in total offense. Jarren Williams has passed for 2,093 yards, 19 TDs, and 6 INTs. Coming off a disastrous performance against the Duke Blue Devils, where Williams passed for a season-low (as a starter) 142 passing yards, it will be interesting to see which passer the coaches put their confidence in.

Poll

Would Your Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Miami’s Quarterback Situation
    (74 votes)
  • 75%
    J’Mar Smith
    (229 votes)
303 votes total Vote Now

Running Back

There will be a lot of Cam’Ron Harris, Robert Burns, and Lorenzo Lingard in Shreveport. The last time Harris and Burns combined to lead the charge in Durham, they amassed 92 rushing yards. Louisiana Tech averages 277.3 rushing yards a game. Miami is in the same orbit with a team average of 257.2 yards. Louisiana Tech’s rushing leader, Justin Henderson, has gone over the century mark four times this year. His best performance came in Louisiana Tech’s win 43-31 win over the FIU Panthers. Henderson ran for 141 yards and 3 TDs. Cam’Ron Harris has shown tremendous burst and strength all year. He’s also flashed against the crop of talented teams the Miami Hurricanes played during the season. Both lead backs average more than 5 yards a carry. This matchup may not come down to talent but the blocking paving the way.

Poll

Would You Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Miami’s Running Backs
    (252 votes)
  • 13%
    Louisiana Tech’s Running Backs
    (39 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now

Offensive Line

Louisiana Tech has given up 26 sacks through 12 games. In comparison, Miami has let quarterbacks succumb to pressure 47 times. Both teams were pretty solid against their one similar opponent, FIU. The Bulldogs surrendered 1 sack and the Hurricanes gave up 2. In order to produce a 30th overall, 27th in first down, 29th in the red zone, and 31st passing offense in the nation, protection is key. Louisiana Tech clearly has put an emphasis on the players up front. There are so many factors to consider when looking at this position group. The talent of the opponent, injuries sustained on the Canes offensive line like Navaughn Donaldson, and play calling.

Poll

Would Your Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Miami’s Offensive Line
    (62 votes)
  • 78%
    Louisiana Tech’s Offensive Line
    (227 votes)
289 votes total Vote Now

Tight Ends

The clear-cut advantage here lies with Miami. Brevin Jordan finished the season with 35 receptions, 495 yards, and two TDs. Even after missing several games, Jordan still leads the Canes in receiving yards. The Mackey Award finalist is a matchup nightmare every time he suits up. Will Mallory also showed promise when forced into duty and targeted. He finished the 2019 season with 251 yards, 2TDs, and a 20.9 average yard per catch. This prompt is also a no brainer because LA Tech only has one tight end on their roster, Zach Cousar. He doesn’t have a catch this season.

Poll

Would Your Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    Miami’s Tight Ends
    (276 votes)
  • 3%
    Louisiana Tech’s Tight Ends
    (9 votes)
285 votes total Vote Now

Wide Receivers

As mentioned above, LA Tech has no need for a tight end because they spread the ball around to their speedy WR core. The Bulldogs were 12 yards away from having four 500+ yards receivers on the season. With the efficiency they possess at the quarterback position, this offense is truly built on getting the ball into the playmakers’ hands. The Hurricanes will have primary wideout K.J. Osborn (491 yards), Michael Harley (485 yards), Dee Wiggins (323 yards), and several other speedy playmakers. Similar to the offensive line, this battle may come down to the efficiency at QB.

Poll

Would Your Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Miami’s Wide Receivers
    (202 votes)
  • 29%
    Louisiana Tech’s Wide Receivers
    (84 votes)
286 votes total Vote Now

Defensive Ends

The pass rush is where Miami reigns supreme. Aided by the nation’s 2nd runner up in sacks, Gregory Rousseau, Miami is 6th (43 total sacks) in this category. The Bulldogs finished the regular season with 20 team sacks. The highest solo total for them belongs to sophomore Milton Williams. With Garvin and Hill sitting out, young players like Jahari Harvey and others will finally see some action.

Poll

Would You Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Miami’s Defensive Ends
    (271 votes)
  • 4%
    Louisiana Tech’s Defensive Ends
    (13 votes)
284 votes total Vote Now

Defensive Tackles

Another aspect of the Cane’s dominance in the trenches resides with the stout play of the defensive tackles. Miami will have Pat Bethel, Jonathan Ford, and other key players at the position. Miami’s is bringing the 15th ranked rush defense to Shreveport. Louisiana Tech allows an average of 142.5 rushing yards a game. To their credit, they are the 3rd ranked red zone defense in the country, only trailing the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Florida Gators. Their front seven is very active in stopping the run in the money area.

Poll

Would You Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Miami’s Defensive Tackles
    (246 votes)
  • 9%
    Louisiana Tech’s Defensive Tackles
    (26 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now

Linebackers

Michael Pinckney played his last game as a Hurricane. Sam Brooks Jr., Shaquille Quarterman (96 tackles), and striker Romeo Finley will be all over the field this Thursday. Louisiana Tech 2nd and 3rd leading tacklers, Connor Taylor (66 tackles) and Collin Scott (64 tackles) are very active players. They helm a defense that gives up an average of almost 90 more yards a game than Miami’s. While they’re solid in statistical categories, the talent and ability resides with the Canes.

Poll

Would You Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Miami’s Linebackers
    (247 votes)
  • 9%
    Louisiana Tech’s Linebackers
    (26 votes)
273 votes total Vote Now

Secondary

Louisiana Tech surrenders an average of 247.8 passing yards a game. Miami allows an average of 197.9 yards through the air. The Canes rank 22nd in the nation in this category. Interestingly, Louisiana Tech is 2nd in defensive touchdowns this season. Many of the TDs came from players in their secondary. They may give up more yardage, but the team knows how to manufacture points off of turnovers. Bulldogs cornerback Amik Robertson leads the team with 5 INTs. Over the weekend, there was speculation that Canes junior cornerback Trajan Bandy will not be returning for his senior season. All signs point to him playing in the bowl game. Gurvan Hall Jr. is emerging as a playmaker and we all know the hard-hitting ability of Amari Carter.

Poll

Would You Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Miami’s Secondary
    (220 votes)
  • 19%
    Louisiana Tech’s Secondary
    (53 votes)
273 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams

Louisiana Tech has never had to switch out kickers. Kicker Bailey Hale is 51 for 51 in extra points this year. He also has made 15 of his 18 FG attempts on the season. Lou Hedley turned out to be a true asset for the Canes this year, adding stability to a much-maligned special teams unit. K.J. Osborn has also provided a nice spark to the PR game.

Poll

Would You Rather?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Miami’s Special Teams
    (116 votes)
  • 57%
    Louisiana Tech’s Special Teams
    (156 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now

What are your thoughts on the matchup?