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Miami Hurricanes Matchup Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas

The Canes look to give Jim McElwain a South Florida welcome

Central Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

A week after thrashing the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman, the Miami Hurricanes will once again enjoy some home cooking at Hard Rock Stadium. The Canes will host Jim McElwain and his Central Michigan Chippewas (2–1) in the penultimate non-conference game of the 2019 season.

Miami is still trying to even their wins and losses, with Chippewas next on the list. As State of the U’s own Marshall Thomas pointed out, offensive coordinator Dan Enos is seeking some form of retribution against his former employer. How much frustration Enos and his offense are able to unload onto the Chips will be an interesting storyline come Saturday.

Before then, let’s dive into some of the key matchups that will dictate the fourth game of the season for the Hurricanes.

Iron Sharpens Iron (One vs One matchup)

Central Michigan #88 WR Kalil Pimpleton vs Trajan Bandy #2

Bethune-Cookman v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Chippewas are looking to bounce back from a hard-fought loss last weekend. To do so, they’ll look to get their playmaking receiver, Kalil Pimpleton, going. A former member of Virginia Tech, the wideout transferred to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, in 2017, sitting out the season due to the NCAA’s transfer requirement. At 5’9” and 175 pounds, the Michigan native works best in motion and in space. Pimpleton possess good acceleration, preferring to make defenders miss with a shimmy than break a tackle. Expect the Chips to move him across the formation in an effort to get him touches.

For Trajan Bandy, like many other Hurricanes, this matchup is an opportunity to work on the basics. The junior cornerback is well-versed in defending offensive threats on the perimeter of the field and inside the numbers. The Chips’ deep passing game is non-existent, with most of their passes happening in a 10-20 yard range. This week is a good opportunity to work on technique and communication for Miami’s corners. In the fourth game of the season, expect ‘Area 2’ to be on lockdown all afternoon long.

Positional Matchup of the Week

Central Michigan’s Defensive Secondary vs Miami’s Wide Receivers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan
Central Michigan S Devonni Reed
Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Hurricanes’ passing game has been hit-or-miss through three games this season. UM quarterback Jarren Williams has turned in completion percentages of 63, 76 and 79%. The breakdown of receptions has heavily favored TE Brevin Jordan and WR KJ Osborn — they have 28 receptions, 338 receiving yards and three touchdowns combined. The rest of the Canes’ receivers have caught 47 balls for 518 receiving yards. The team needs to see what the other pass catchers can bring to the table. Mark Pope has flashed since the season opener, as has Brian Hightower. This should be ( has to be) a game where the rest of Miami’s receiving corps earns targets. The key there is to earn targets. Because at this point, nothing is given for a team fighting to have a 50-50 winning percentage.

Despite getting run off the field by Wisconsin — been there, done that — the Chippewas boast a veteran secondary led by their safeties. Devonni Reed and Da’Quan Jamison have combined for 28 tackles. Starting cornerback Brandon Brown has turned in six tackles and two pass breakups through three games. CMU is breaking in some new corners in Norman Anderson and Dishon McNairy. Wisconsin sprayed the ball anywhere and everywhere to the tune of 400 passing yards a couple of weeks ago. For the first time ever, Miami should take a page out of the Badger playbook.

Caneseye Players to Watch

CMU QB David Moore #2

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A former member of the Memphis Tigers in 2017, Moore got his first start with Central Michigan last weekend against Akron. Filling in for injured starting QB Quinten Dormandy (knee), Moore passed for 316 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and had a 64.5 completion percentage. Moore is a dual-threat, similar to what Miami saw from Akevious Williams of Bethune-Cookman a week ago. Morore is a rhythm QB that will wait to see receivers get open as opposed to making anticipatory throws.

Miami DT #93 Pat Bethel — Awards night is far off in the distance for UM, but the early favorite to win the Unsung Player of the Year award has to be Pat Bethel. Overshadowed by edge rushers and his boisterous peers on the defensive interior, Bethel is an under-the-radar contributor for the Canes’ defense. Bethel has five tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss, yet his surge in the middle and ability to occupy blockers benefits his teammates most. It may be wishful thinking to have a game where Bethel is able to pile up the game sheet. At the very least he got a shout-out in this week’s Matchup Preview.

CMU RB Kobe Lewis #4 — The Chippewas’ 61–0 thrashing at the hands of Wisconsin didn’t only cost them their starting quarterback, but also their top tailback. RB Jonathan Ward, the Mid-American Conference’s leading rusher, suffered a shoulder injury that has forced him out of the lineup. Sophomore RB Kobe Lewis took the ball last week and rushed for 146 yards, three touchdowns and averaged 5.4 yards-per-carry. Don’t look now, but the Canes have the eighth ranked rush defense entering Saturday. Lewis can become a productive back, but this should be a game where his yards-per-carry average hovers around three.

Miami LB #53 Zach McCloud

Florida State v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

It’s been a quiet start to the season for Zach McCloud. Embarking on the final lap of his collegiate career, McCloud has flown under the radar through three games. So much so, in fact, that many wondered if the senior should take a redshirt this year. The answer to the question was no, as coach Manny Diaz emphasized the importance of McCloud to the defense, regardless of his lack of playing time to date. Miami opted to go with strikers Romeo Finley and Gilbert Frierson based on previous matchups, but Zach McCloud should not be forgotten. Defensive coordinator Blake Baker should insert No. 53 into the rotation against a team that will try to establish a ground game because he’s a good sideline-to-sideline defender.

CMU DE Sean Adensanya #2 — Regardless of the fact that Miami possess more firepower across the roster than Central Michigan, this week’s opposition poses a different challenge. Among them will be blocking Sean Adensanya. The senior defensive end will line up in a wide-nine alignment — on the outside of the tight end — to use his speed to zip by blockers. When Adensanya does engage with blockers, he uses his 6’3” frame to win the leverage battle, often going under the outstretched hands of blockers. In the penultimate non-conference tilt for UM, the Chip pass rusher presents a good warm-up before ACC competition gets underway.

Miami Running Backs not Named DeeJay Dallas

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

Last week was the first time this season that a Cam Harris run didn’t get negated due to penalty. That trend should continue against another undersized front seven defense. By all reports, Saturday will mark the debut of RB Lorenzo Lingard. Cane fans have been clamoring for his return, despite the production of the Hurricanes’ two established runners. If Lingard is in peak form, it’ll be a significant change to the dynamic of Miami’s offense. Could we see another James Murphy touchdown? I wouldn’t put it past the Canes to call No. 39’s number once again if the game is well in hand.

305 Connection

QB #10 Daniel Richardson — Carol City HS — Freshman

This week’s 305 connection is unlikely to get any burn coming back home, yet still warrants some attention. Quarterback Daniel Richardson from Miami Carol City Senior High School broke multiple Miami-Dade HS career passing records — 9,971 yards and 117 touchdowns. That accomplishment helped him become a three-star prospect, according to 247 Sports Composite rankings (49th dual-threat). Richardson ultimately chose CMU over offers from FAU, FIU, Toledo and UAB.

One Last Thing(s)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Bethune-Cookman at Miami Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In his previous life as a Buffalo Bull, current UM wide receiver K.J. Osborn played just one game against Central Michigan. In that contest, he recorded two receptions for 14 yards. UB went on to beat the CMU by a score of 34-24. Osborn found the endzone for his first touchdown as a Cane last week and should be favored to make that a trend once more.

CMU TE Tony Poljan #85 (6’7”, 255 pounds) is a converted quarterback that made the transition from quarterback to tight end in 2018. I don’t know if he’s any good, but it’s worth noting that this is the same institution that once had a young man named JJ Watt play as a tight end. So expect Poljan to be an NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2024.