The Miami Hurricanes and Southern Miss. Golden Eagles will face off on Saturday, September 10th at noon on the ACC Network. The Hurricanes are coming off of an easy 70-13 victory over the Bethune Cookman Wildcats while So. Miss. is looking to bounce back after a 29-27, four overtime loss, to Liberty.
The Hurricanes are the clear favorite to beat the Golden Eagles on Saturday, but while the saying is “they don’t ask how, they ask how many” you can’t help but want to see improvements in certain areas from Week 1 to Week 2. For Miami, those areas will be pass defense, tackling, and penalties.
The ‘Canes enter the game ranked 14 per the SP+, while Southern Miss is ranked 95. The ‘Canes offense is 10th, the defense is 30th, and the kicking game is 56th. The Golden Eagles offense is 114th, the defense is 67th, and the kicking game is 62nd.
Miami is scoring 70 PPG while Southern Miss. managed 27 points against the Liberty Flames in four OT’s in Week 1.
The statistical star for the Golden Eagles is running back Frank Gore Jr. Stopping Gore will be a focus all week for Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. Gore Jr. rushed for 178 yards on 5.6 yards per carry with two TD’s against Liberty.
Big play passing could hurt Miami, too. When SMU So Miss did complete a pass (it was rare) they averaged 27.4 yards per grab. However, they finished 5-of-13 with three interceptions last week.
The Golden Eagles turned the ball over five times, committed 10 penalties, and finished 3-of-12 on 3rd down and 0-for-1 on 4th down.
The Southern Miss defense managed two sacks, 11 TFL’s, five PBU’s, and three hurries against Liberty. You would hope they wouldn’t be this effective against the Miami offensive line and receivers. They picked off Liberty QB’s three times, as well.
So. Miss. O
The Southern Miss offense is almost at flexbone proportions throwing a mere 13 times in a four OT loss to Liberty. 13 times in essentially five or more quarters worth of football. But when they did hit they were 20+ yard completions and with the way DJ Ivey was tackling and some of the safeties were tracking the ball- that could be an issue.
Above- This is where having uber athletic P5 players comes in handy. Guys like Thomas Davis should be able to tip screens and quicks and make a play on them.
Above- The LB’s need to be able to pick up their coverage. I see Caleb Johnson getting more play at LB against So. Miss. to stop Frank Gore Jr. in his varied role.
Above- The under center quick jet sweep could mess with a team that has contain issues. D-Ends fly too far up field and the jet sweep cuts underneath them.
Above- Frank Gore Jr. will line up all over the field. QB, RB, wing, slot... he’s that good and that versatile.
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The Hurricanes should continue to look good on offense with Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback and Xavier Restrepo as his go-to target. The running game might slip back against the Golden Eagles better-than-FCS defense.
Linebackers Averie Habas and Santrell Latham came up big for So. Miss. against Liberty. Both could cause issues for the Miami run game that will rely on blocking tight ends to overcome some offensive line issues. Against Liberty, the duo combined for 13 tackles, a sack, four TFL’s, and a PBU.
Above- So Miss is going to run a pretty basic 4-2 defense with a 2-high look. I’d love to see Jake Garcia given a little package of plays like pass-run options. This would keep him engaged, experienced, and use his strength which is quick speed and quick decision making.
Above- We all know QB Tyler Van Dyke loves the corner route off the Smash concept. If Liberty is hitting it, you know Van Dyke can. He looked accurate with time but expect So. Miss. to bring MUCH more pressure against Miami than BCU was capable of.
Above- Use those tight end and Xavier Restrepo! Will Mallory on the slide, Elijah Arroyo to the corner and Restrepo runs a drag from the right to left could cause some havoc for the OODA Loop of the Golden Eagle DB’s and LB’s.
ESPN gives Miami a 96.3% matchup predictor edge over So. Miss. The Canyonero Keys to victory were to: 1- stick to the fundamentals, 2- contain Frank Gore Jr. and 3- take what the Golden Eagles defense gives you.
Miami can’t get caught up in trying to make a highlight tape on defense. The “big hit” or slick interception doesn’t need to happen, just secure your damn tackles and play the football in the air. If I’m So. Miss. I call out all the stops from onside kicks to fake punts and trick plays. Catch Miami asleep, and catch them over confident at home after an easy win.
Prediction: I’m stick to my 24 point win for Miami.