Game Preview: Florida Atlantic vs. Miami Hurricanes
After the 70-3 thrashing of Florida A&M in front of 60,000 plus fans, the Miami Hurricanes set their eyes on the next opponent, Florida Atlantic University (1-0). Last year, the Owls gave the Hurricanes a scare with a tied game through the 3rd quarter until the Canes pulled away with 44-20 victory. The Canes’ will certainly receive the Owls best punches again in 2016.
With a dominant rushing performance (373 yards) from the Miami Hurricane running backs in week one, they will have to fight for yardage against Owls this week. FAU (4-2-5 defense) plays a lot of press and quarters coverage on defense. That allows the safeties to play the run game. The Owls defensive strength lies within their front seven including players such as linebackers
The Owls defensive strength lies within their front seven including players such as linebackers Azeez Al-Shaair (pre-season all Conference USA), Nate Ozdemir (61 tackles in 2015) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year). The Miami offense may face nine defenders in the box at some point during the game.
The Canes will need to rely on Brad Kaaya and the passing game. Last year, Kaaya went 21-32 for 287 yards and one touchdown against the Owls. The offense struggled to convert third downs against FAU last year (3 of 11).
Under Mark Richt’s tutelage and offensive philosophy, Kaaya will need to play better and squeeze some passes into one on one coverage to his targets. Last week, the wealth was distributed well. Stacy Coley, Chris Herndon, and Ahmmon Richards had touchdown receptions and Kaaya completed passes to nine different receivers.
The Canes’ offense can exploit the middle of the FAU defense with tight ends Herndon and David Njoku due to the tight coverage on the outside and safeties playing close to the line of scrimmage. Also, much like last year, Kaaya will have some opportunities to use the running backs in the passing game out of the backfield:
Although the Canes’ held the FAMU offense to 3 points last week, the Canes’ lost depth on defense with leg injuries to starting cornerback Adrian Colbert, who had an interception last week, linebacker Jaime Gordineir, who has been ruled out for the season, and another knee injury to defensive lineman Courtel Jenkins. As attrition continues to shock the Canes’ lineup, they will be forced to focus on “the next man up” mentality.
As attrition continues to shock the Canes’ lineup, they will be forced to focus on “the next man up” mentality. Despite the various injuries, some players will be returning this week. Defensive lineman Gerald Willis and linebacker Darrion Owens return to the field this week vs. FAU. Owens, who suffered a season-ending injury against FAU last year, will provide much-needed depth to depleted linebacker core.
In last season’s game against Miami, Jay Warren had 132 yards on 11 carries in the 1st half. The Owls will look to have similar success on the ground, but they strive for a balanced offense with quarterback Jason Driskel (23-31 for 287 yards last week versus SIU) throwing the football.
This week is an excellent opportunity for cornerbacks Sheldrick Redwine, Ryan Mayes, and Malek Young to prove their worth and reliability for the rest of the season. Diaz will need to experiment different packages and looks to cope with the lack of depth. The defensive line needs to make plays as they did last week vs. FAMU. Despite the success that FAU had last year against the Canes, the Owls will see a much more aggressive defense this season.
Kickoff: 6:00 EST at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida
Media Coverage: ESPN 3/ ACC/ESPN Network and radio 560 WQAM
Miami leads the series (2-0)