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Film Forecast ‘23: Miami vs. Bethune-Cookman

The Hurricanes host in-state FCS opponent Bethune Cookman in a short week after Miami’s upset win over Texas A&M.

Bethune-Cookman v Miami Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The undefeated Miami Hurricanes will host the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Thursday, September 14th at 7:30pm. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

The matchup with the HBCU squad will be one of Miami’s two non-Saturday games this season with a road trip to Boston College on Thanksgiving Friday being the second.

With the amount of uncertainty in Daytona Beach, FL this off-season I chose not to attempt at Summer Scheming of the Wildcats. BCU has a record of 1-1 so far in 2023, beating Savannah State and losing to Memphis 56-14. BCU has lost four of their last five games, dating back to the end of the 2022 season.


The Doppler

Per Bill Connelly’s SP+ analytics, Miami is the 21st best team in FBS football after Week Two. The Hurricanes have, WAIT FOR IT, the 29th best offense, 22nd ranked defense, and 24th ranked kicking game.

Miami is currently ranked 22nd in the AP poll. The U has scored 43 points per game (21st of 133 in FBS) and allowed only 18 PPG (51st in FBS). The ‘Canes are currently 4th in yards per play and 5th in points per play.

Mario Cristobal’s staff does need to clean up penalties as the Hurricanes are 114th in FBS with nine penalties per game.

BCU is 6-of-25 on 3rd downs and 0-for-1 on 4th down for the season, while also posting seven penalties for 50 yards against Memphis in Week One.

BCU Offense

Transfer QB Luke Sprague played well against Savannah State after the entire offense struggled against Memphis. Against Memphis, Sprague and QB Walter Simmons III, combined for 1.6 yards per pass attempt (not a typo) with no touchdowns or interceptions.

The Wildcats rushed for 2.2 yards per carry while nine different Cats caught a ball against the Tigers. BCU’s offensive line allowed four sacks and eight TFL’s.

The offense finished a paltry 1-of-15 on 3rd down and 0-for-1 on 4th down vs. the Tigers.

Above- Miami struggled a little against inside zone read when the QB pulled vs. TAMU. Conner Weigman scored an early TD on a read option pull look because no Miami defender ‘took the QB.’

Above- both teams ran split zone with some success. SZ is my favorite run concept because of how versatile it is with RPO tags, naked boots, play-actions, and even tagging a pull read.

Above- Clearly the BCU offense struggled at times as they failed to score. They got hot against Savannah State in their Week Two matchup. Here the LB blitz, which looks familiar to a Lance Guidry pressure, gets home. Hi Mr. Wesley Bissainthe.

Love to see it

Look the next two clips aren’t making the highlight reel, but the fight that BCU players were putting up down 35-7 and then 49-7, still breaking tackles and still working, I LOVE TO SEE IT.

Above- Will Miami’s young defenders keep up the intensity with BCU?

Above- When it’s your time to shine up 35, do you come out and put together the kind of tape that tells Cristobal, Guidry and Dawson you don’t need a redshirt?

BCU Defense

For as bad as their offense played, BCU’s defense really didn’t play that poorly. The Wildcats put up 14 defensive points against Memphis, one an interception return for a touchdown and the other a fumble returned for a touchdown for the final score of the day.

BCU also held Memphis to 4-of-12 on 3rd down, but allowed the Tigers to pick up both 4th down conversion attempts. The Wildcats defense came up with one sack and five TFL’s with two PBU’s on the day.

The Memphis QB’s combined for nine yards per pass attempt but starter Seth Henigan threw two interceptions with his two touchdowns. The Tigers rushed for five touchdowns on 4.8 yards per carry.

The Memphis receivers converted some explosive plays- catches of 47, 24, 54, and 22 yards as “longs” for four different players.

Above- BCU shows a fairly standard 4-2-5, two high safety look vs. Memphis.

Above- Once Miami cruises to an early lead (we can be hopeful now, right?!), this is the type of play you want to see Ray Ray Joseph convert to a big 1st down. The veteran Miami players need to get an early lead to get the younger players their time on the field. Early on, this is an Xavier Restrepo easy explosive play.

Above- What else works for Miami? Split Zone. Memphis runs it for a grind-it-out type of TD in the red zone. I expect a better kick out block from TE Cam McCormick than what the Tigers TE shows here.

Above- For being 6-foot-5, QB Tyler Van Dyke sure does have a lot of passes batted down, and some even picked off at the line after tips. Something to watch out for early when BCU’s defense still has some gas.

Above- I expect Mario and Shannon Dawson to start using more G Series runs. G Series is a same side guard kick out on the EMOL. Typically works well from under center or in the shotgun. Who will be Miami’s lead blocker in a traditional I-formation? McCormick could be a nice touch with Riley Williams as the inline TE.

Above- Tunnel screen inside of the +10 yard line, not bad for Memphis here. That’s a great way to work Colbie Young into the game early, but also Robby Washington later on.

Film Forecast

The ESPN win expectancy for Thursday’s matchup has Miami with a 99% and BCU with a 1% chance of victory.

However, the Canyonero Keys for beating an FCS program are fairly standard:

1- Don’t sleepwalk through the game. I doubt Mario Cristobal lets the players ride too high after the upset over TAMU, and a short week actually helps. They had to refocus by Sunday evening and get ready for another game that’ll happen Thursday night.

2- Clean up your mistakes. Playing a ‘lesser’ talented opponent isn’t time to get sloppy. It’s time to perfect the base offense and defense. I would love to see less turnovers, less penalties, and a cleaner kicking game.

3- Be relentless. Don’t let up once you’re up 28 (if you’re focused enough to get up 28). I don’t want to see Emory Williams come in and handoff five times, I want to see the real offense with Williams, Joseph, Samson Okunlola and Washington. I want to see the real defense, pressure and all, with Jayden Wayne and the young defenders.

Prediction: Miami by 35.