No. 14 Miami faces Toledo after long layoff (Sep 23, 2017)

Miami will be virtually starting the season over when the No. 14 Hurricanes host Toledo on Saturday.

With Hurricane Irma causing the cancelation of Miami’s Sept. 9 game at Arkansas State and the postponement of the trip to Florida State from Sept. 16 to Oct. 7, the Hurricanes will be three weeks between games when they take the field against the Rockets.

That will be the longest stretch ever between regular-season games in program history, a span of 21 days that goes back to the season-opening win over Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 2.

“From a football aspect, it’s very frustrating,” senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios said.

“Never in my life, since I started playing football at 7 or 8, have I had a period of time where we do nothing and are just sitting around on Thursday, on Friday and on Saturday, and we are just watching all those games and knowing that could be you.

“It’s frustrating, to say the least.”

After the storm passed through the state, the Miami players were reunited in Orlando to conduct practices at the Disney athletic complex. One of the games they watched last weekend was Toledo’s 54-51 comeback win over Tulsa, the unbeaten Rockets’ third victory of the season.

“We streamed it in the team room,” coach Mark Richt said.

“It was actually our dining area. We had some snacks, so it wasn’t like everybody had to sit in a chair and watch, but everybody was watching the game as we were grabbing some snacks. We watched a good bit of the first half together.”

His first impression?

“Obviously, offensively they’re very, very good at what they do,” he said. “They can put a lot of points on the board.”

Senior quarterback Logan Woodside has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for nearly 335 yards a game while running backs Terry Swanson (276 rushing yards), Art Thompkins (236) and Shakif Seymour (150) share the workload in Toledo’s running game.

“This is a very fast-paced offense,” said Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who hopes depth will give Miami’s an edge. “They’re going to come after us. We have the ability to play multiple people at every position, which is going to help us regardless of if we have played or have not played over the last couple weeks.”

Toledo coach Jason Candle is concerned about Miami’s speed.

“I see a team that’s built on players from South Florida,” he said. “Lot of speed. They play fast on defense. They’re running to the football and getting to you with bad intentions when they do get to the ball.

“And on offense there’s a multitude of guys that can score from anywhere. They’ve got a tremendous back in Mark Walton and some good receivers on the perimeter that can score it.

“I think the quarterback is going to continually get better as the year goes on.”

That would be junior Malik Rosier, who won the starting job for Miami after going through a four-way competition in fall camp. Rosier was 17-of-28 passing for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the opener.

“I’m really a fan of how he handles the game and what it looks like,” Candle said. “I think he’s going to be a good one.”

In addition to win over Tulsa, Toledo has beaten Elon and won at Nevada. Defensively, the Rockets held Elon to just 175 yards of total offense and Nevada to just 109 yards rushing before giving up 548 yards in total offense — 423 on the ground — to Tulsa.

Walton, who rushed for 148 yards against Bethune-Cookman, has to like the looks of that number.

“I think the biggest challenge for us is trying to figure out who they’re going to be,” Miami offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “They’ve played three games, and in the three games they’ve been somebody different.

“I think they’re more of a ‘flavor of the week’-type team. They kind of base what they do blitz-wise and some stuff coverage-wise based on who they’re playing. We kind of have to prepare for everything they showed last year, everything they’ve shown this year, which kind of makes it tough when you’re getting a certain amount reps in versus all your looks, run-game and protection-wise.”