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Monday Musings: depth charts, predictions, and more

Yay, football!

Miami Hurricanes football practice Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

WE. MADE. IT. After the most bizarre offseason in what’s seemed like an apocalyptic year, we sit on the precipice of seeing our favorite football team take the field. And, as such, it seemed like as good a time as any to bring back my rambling thoughts barfed down into word form……more commonly known as Monday Musings.

And there’s certainly not a lack of things to talk about. From depth charts to game planning to predictions and more, it’s a week of hope springing eternal in south Florida and across the ACC/SEC/Big 12 worlds (sorry, B1G/PAC 14 12). It was a LONG 8+ months of waiting for Thursday, which will happen when a Conference-USA team leaves you with a brown taste in your mouth in Shreveport, Louisiana. Now, Miami has a new offensive guru in Rhett Lashlee, perhaps the most electric player to ever step under center in the school’s history running the show in D’Eriq King, and a host of relatively unproven but uber-talented skill position players set to step into the limelight. What does that mean? A whole lot of guarded optimism that this will be a breakthrough year for a program that badly needs one.

Massive props to Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Dolphins, and the University of Miami.

It’s been a total cluster around the country, with some conferences playing, some schools and pro teams hosting fans in their home stadiums, and some deciding to wait and see. UM is incredibly fortunate to call Hard Rock Stadium its home. Aside from the gorgeous, state-of-the-art updates, it’s as sanitized and virus-proofed a facility as there is on earth, having earned a GBAC star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. I don’t know exactly what that means is required to get there, but I do know they had to get through a 20-step program on cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention to get there, so I’m pretty confident they’ve got that stadium clean enough for the Pope to come eat some nachos on the floor. If any stadium is going to host people, that would be a place I’d want to be.

And there will be plenty of UM backers there to test that theory on Thursday, with 13,000 fans authorized to attend. I think a 25% capacity is a fantastic middle ground for testing the viability of fans at games this year. 50% (which Texas had been reportedly considering) seemed like too much, and having no fans seems (to me, at least) too much when social distancing protocols can be put in place. Bottom line, HRS and the Dolphins brass deserve a ton of credit for getting the stadium in top shape, and we Miami fans look forward to the closest semblance possible to a normal UM home game on Thursday.

Miami’s depth chart is……mostly expected, yet interesting.

Miami released its Week 1 depth chart today, and there really aren’t too many huge surprises. Still, it’s always interesting to see the players listed after fall camps and respective battles are done. Surprises? Not many. Behind starters Dee Wiggins, Mark Pope, and Mike Harley, Xavier Restrepo sits third on the depth chart at one of the WR spots. I find that a little surprising, given the seemingly consistent production we’d been reading about from Restrepo. Bradley Jennings, Jr. at MLB next to Zach McCloud isn’t a surprise listing based upon his reported performance in fall camp; just a surprise (if anything) that he came almost from off the radar and won the spot. Will be interesting to see if he can hold it, and if that can do anything to push Sam Brooks (who I would’ve picked in the spring if you put a gun to my head) to become the man as the season progresses. The battles at striker and safety will be fun to watch early on as well, see who becomes the odd man out of each area, with one extra player/co-starter currently at each positional group. Finally, starting LT John Campbell, Jr. will be an incredibly important player this season. His success will be key to anchoring a line that should be improved (thanks to Jarrid Williams holding down one side of the line, and the rest having a year of work under their belts). I also have to wonder if having a player with as much athleticism and escapability as King will make the line look better than it did having to protect the comparably-statuesque Jarren Williams.

Give me King and Knighton in space on Thursday, please.

Justin Dottavio put up a very interesting preview piece on UAB this morning, and his points about King in a speed option are well taken. UAB’s defense looked like they were moving in concrete boots trying to stop Central Arkansas on a speed option play that resulted in a touchdown. King and (insert any of Miami’s running backs) should be a significant upgrade to both. Get outside, get big plays. I said Knighton because I just love his big play potential, but Chaney realistically has the same potential. So it’s 1 and 1A, as far as I’m concerned.

Game Prediction: take the over.

Yeah, sure, 3 turnovers helped the cause, but boy, Central Arkansas didn’t have much resistance in finding the end zone on the way to 35 points against the Blazers. UAB looked more than capable of scoring themselves and got a bunch of different players involved. It will be a big challenge for UM’s linebackers and safeties to contain UAB’s tight ends. In addition to helping pave the way for 233 rushing yards, TE Garrett Prince caught two first-half touchdowns.

UAB will challenge Miami’s defense early, but King and Miami’s electric offense will push Miami ahead comfortably by the fourth quarter. The over/under is around 51.5. Take. The. Over.

Miami 41, UAB 31

Season prediction: pain

For who? Hopefully Miami’s opponents, but pain has been Miami’s middle name for a decade minus most of the 2017 season. Putting aside the cheesy Rocky 3 reference (which I can NEVER pass on when I see the word “prediction”), this year feels a bit different. Lashlee accomplished big things as SMU’s DC, and I still have faith in Blake Baker getting the defense ready to play. The schedule is mostly kind, but the Clemson trip is a rough one, and Miami always finds a way to lose one they shouldn’t. I’ll say 8-3 regular season, 9-3 after a bowl victory. (Please, lord, may I be on the low end of things with this prediction.)