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Miami Hurricanes Matchup Preview: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

The Canes aim to serve up some home cooking against the Wildcats

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Bethune-Cookman at Miami Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week three of college football season finds the University of Miami returning to the friendly confines of Hard Rock Stadium. The Canes will host Bethune-Cookman of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in the first of a four-game home stand. Led by fifth-year head coach Terry Sims, the Wildcats sport a 27-17 record over the past four seasons.

Let’s be honest, this is a game where the Hurricanes will have the edge at every position across the board. No slight to the Wildcats — they feature plenty of talent from South Florida’s tri-county area. But after two letdown performances, the Hurricanes aim to take their frustrations out on the Wildcats. Let the fine-tuning begin.

Iron Sharpens Iron (One vs One Matchup of the Week)

Miami T DJ Scaife vs Bethune-Cookman DE Marques Ford #48

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 17 Miami at Virginia Tech Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Marques Ford’s path to BCU’s Daytona Beach campus is an interesting tale. Ford was told that his scholarship to the University of Tennessee would not be honored two weeks after signing day. After a pit stop at Rutgers, Ford landed with the Wildcats. The Gibsonton, Florida, native has been the Wildcats’ most productive pass rusher — he tallied 42 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, six QB hurries and one fumble recovery in 2018.

Two weeks ago, it looked as though John Campell Jr. would be the matchup here. However, offensive line coach Butch Barry replaced Campbell with sophomore DJ Scaife, moving him from guard to tackle. Scaife seven starts from his freshman year were all at right tackle. With so much attention placed on the offensive line to start the year, Scaife’s domination this week could help to ease some minds for the time being. Scaife will be serving up some pancakes at the expense of the Wildcat’s defensive end on Saturday.

Positional Matchup of the Week

Miami’s Offensive Line vs Bethune-Cookman’s Front Seven

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 24 Camping World Kickoff - Florida v Miami Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We talked about an offensive lineman, so let’s highlight the rest of the starting group: Left tackle, Zion Nelson; left guard, Navaughn Donaldson; center, Corey Gaynor; right guard, Jakai Clark; and the aforementioned DJ Scaife — assuming we’re not hit with another surprise in warmups. This group is expected to pave the way for an offense that has shown moments of brilliance and struggle through two games. UM demonstrated signs of improvement in the loss to North Carolina and should be monumentally better at home this week. Whether it’s setting up as pass blockers or mowing down an undersized Wildcats’ defensive front, ‘domination’ is the goal come Saturday afternoon.

A year ago, Bethune-Cookman allowed an average of 30.2 points-per-game. BCU possess the ability to pressure opposing offenses when you consider their 31 sacks and 17 interceptions generated in 2018. Thumping LB Devin James (#30) led all Cats with 45 tackles and LB Marquis Hendrix (#19) racked up 11.5 tackles-for-loss as a junior, so there are playmakers on BCU’s defense. Regardless of that fact, the Hurricanes are expected to throw their weight around against an overmatched opponent.

Caneseye Players of the Week

Miami ATH Tate Martell #18

Florida v Miami

Call Tate Martell whatever you want — wide receiver, wildcat quarterback or athletic weapon. Whatever label you settle on, just know that Tate is a playmaker. It will be fascinating to see if offensive coordinator Dan Enos gives Martell more snaps when the game is in hand. Either way, expect to see Martell take it to BCU with reckless abandon.

BCU QB Akevious Williams #10

The senior quarterback is a dual-threat athlete. Proficient at running the ball from under center, Williams rushed for 347 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. Gifted with good acceleration, if there’s no edge containment he can turn the corner on the defense. Williams is still working his way back from a leg injury that cost him some time last season. Despite the setback, he’s been touted as one of the Wildcats’ fastest members.

However, the senior leaves much to be desired as a passer. His placement on deep balls is not great, leading to what amounts to jump balls. When catching a glimpse of pressure, Williams will take his eyes off his targets downfield and begin to freestyle in the pocket. Expect UM to force Williams to rely on his arm, playing right into the defensive strategy of the Canes.

BCU WR Jimmie Robinson #1

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Bethune-Cookman at Nebraska Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In their season opener against Jackson State, Bethune-Cookman forced the ball into the hands of their playmaking wide receiver Jimmie Robinson. Although he didn’t score a touchdown, the wideout did bring in five receptions for 37 receiving yards. TE Taron Mallard (No. 13) is a safety valve for the Wildcat passing game, but Robinson is the most explosive pass catcher on the team.

Miami TE Will Mallory #85

Brevin Jordan has emerged as the headliner for UM’s Tight End U band. There’s a feeling that Will Mallory deserves equal billing. This isn’t a primetime matchup for the sophomore TE, but it’s another opportunity to remind folks that Agent 85 is dangerous in his own right.

BCU LB Untareo Johnson #12

Johnson played for East Mississippi Community College and featured on seasons one and two of Last Chance U on Netflix. These days Johnson has a starring role in the Wildcat defense as a hard-hitting linebacker. He has a knack to be around the ball and arrives with malicious intent.

Miami DE Greg Rousseau #15

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 24 Camping World Kickoff - Florida v Miami Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rousseau has been a fan favorite of Canes fans since his arrival last spring. A 6’7” goliath on the edge, he made plenty of noise in the offseason. This week could be the beginning of a breakout for the sophomore, after recording a sack in both of UM’s games so far. With his blend of size and speed, big No.15 should easily overwhelm the Wildcats’ offensive tackles.

305 Connections

WR Steffon Francois

An alum of Miramar, Florida, Francois is a former standout of 7 on 7 powerhouse the South Florida Express. The speedy 5’11” wide receiver piqued the interest of Miami, Florida State, Purdue and South Carolina coming out of McArthur High School.

One Last Thing

BCU is 0-5 against the Hurricanes since 2011. The largest margin of victory was a 45-0 win in 2015.

According to Phil Steele, Miami is riding a 12-game win streak in home openers. I bet that number increases to lucky 13 after Saturday.