The wait is over.
UM fans finally get to see the highly anticipated debut of the 2014 Hurricanes squad.
For College Football fans, this is like Christmas in September.
But Miami has very tough opener on the road Vs what promises to be a fired up Louisville team in front of their rabid fan base.
What do they need to do to earn the win and start the season on a high note?
Here are my 3 keys:
#1 Make a big play on Special Teams
Season openers are notorious for big special teams plays at all levels of the game. The reason why? It could be a combination of tackling not being at mid-season form, over emotional players running out of their lanes trying to make too many things happen in kick coverage, coaches attempting to get freshman/young players experience on said units, or any combination of the above and more. The point is, there are plays to be made on the ST units: Blocked kicks, long returns, muffs, and more. The 'Canes have no shortage of options for returns. Stacy Coley and Artie Burns are expected to get the first crack at kickoff returns. You could see any combination of Coley, Braxton Berrios, and Phillip Dorsett back deep for punts. The Cardinals have options like Eli Rogers, Charles Gaines, and James Quick back deep. In what is expected to be a very tight contest, a play like the one below could make all the difference for one team or the other:
#2 Gang Tackle on Defense
Miami caught a huge break when it was announced that star WR DeVante Parker was out for this contest. I still expect Bobby Petrino to test the waters on the outside with speedy options like Quick, Kai De La Cruz, and Matt Milton. But Louisville would do rookie starting QB Will Gardner a major service by first establishing the run. Even with Michael Dyer out, they still have 228 pound LJ Scott and 226 pound Dominique Brown to carry the load. Time will tell what each team's strengths and weaknesses are, but on paper Miami's front looks like a far bigger soft spot than it's defensive backfield. Anthony Chickillo, Olsen Pierre, Ufomba Kamalu, and Calvin Heurtelou need to hold their ground, so that Denzel Perryman and company can clean up the mess. Equally important is that Dallas Crawford, Deon Bush, Tracy Howard, and Co. tackle well when Gardner does complete passes, and limit the RAC of Louisville's speedy receivers. If Miami's defense shows up to the ball in bunches, both tasks will be all that much easier.
#3 Control Emotions
Much like special teams breakdowns, the dreaded 15 yard personal foul shows its ugly face quite often in season openers. UM can not afford senseless penalties that either put their offense in a hole, or give Louisville's drives an extra spark. The atmosphere is going to be a mad house, and it is easy to lose one's cool in such an environment. Not to mention, a good number of the 'Canes still have fresh memories of last season's Russell Athletic Bowl beat down, in their minds. They must contain all of that ,and play an aggressive but smart game. Despite being a true freshman, a big reason why Brad Kaaya won the starting QB job is his cool demeanor. Hopefully under the big lights he can sustain that composure, and it spreads to his teammates.
Well there you have it folks. If the Hurricanes can make a few big plays on ST, gang tackle for 4 quarters on defense, and play with a controlled edge, they should come out victorious.
Enjoy the game 'Canes fans!