Signature win. Statement win. Season defining victory.
Three phrases that all basically say the same thing.
In Al Golden's tenure, with the exception perhaps of last year's win over Florida, UM doesn't have a whole lot of... whatever you want to call them.
But tonight his Hurricanes get another chance, as they take on the 24th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in what should be a very hostile environment.
Here are my three keys to pulling out the win:
#1 Be Ready for the Moment - This means everyone; Offense, Defense, Special Teams and Coaches. In week 1 Vs Louisville, Miami had an equally important opportunity. But the playbook was scaled down, the offensive line was shaky, and the special teams forgot their lanes and gave up a kick off return TD (Al Golden has already said more regulars will play ST this time around, including Deon Bush, Dallas Crawford, and Jamal Carter). In order to win on the road against a quality opponent you need to be physically and mentally prepared and make adjustments to what the other side brings. Tonight brings forth an opportunity for redemption and improvement not only the players, but also Golden and his staff.
#2 Make Tommy Armstrong a pocket passer - Don't get me wrong, the kid can throw (773 yards, 7/1 TD/INT 53.1% completion %) but he is even scarier as a runner (27-258, 9.6 ypc 2 TDs). The sophomore QB is the kind of signal caller who has given UM fits over the years. Nothing can be more frustrating for a defense than to cover every option and close in with the pass rush, only to watch a speedy QB scoot past defenders to pick up a third and long. Denzel Perryman may be called on to do some spying on third downs, but with RB Ameer Abdullah a dangerous threat as dangerous a threat catching passes as he is running, it will be tough to hone in on Amstrong should he decide to scramble often. Miami's front 4 needs to not only apply pressure to Armstrong, but also maintain some semblance of containment so he can not simply take off through huge running lanes.
#3 Utilize Speed on Offense - Nebraska has an excellent, aggressive front. But McNeese State had their most success against the Huskers' D when they got to the perimeter of it. Crossing patterns, properly executed, should also work well against this defense. Miami needs to get Phillip Dorsett, Stacy Coley, and Braxton Berrios as many one-on-ones underneath as they can, but not just with bubble screens. Conventional screens to Duke Johnson, properly executed, should also be big gainers. The Nebraska LBs, while physically stout, look a touch lost out in space. TE Clive Walford, while not the fastest of the 'Canes weapons, could also be a mismatch nightmare in this contest for Nebraska.
There you have it Hurricanes fans. If Miami's players and coaches can use the pressure of the moment to rise to the occasion, keep Armstrong from running wild as a scrambler, and win some favorable match-ups in the intermediate passing game, they should get that......(insert cliche phrase here) WIN.