Hallelujah! The day is finally here! Miami kicks off the 2010 football season by facing the Florida A&M Rattlers at Sun Life Stadium. Now, I know many of you think this will be just another cupcake opening game, a glorified scrimmage to prepare the team for bigger, badder competition. Well, you’re probably not far from the truth. But, if the Canes want to make a successful and sustained run at glory this year, it starts tonight at 7:30pm.
I’m sure everyone remembers Appalachian State. Is there even the remotest of possibilities that history repeats itself with a motivated and overlooked Rattlers team gunning down an unprepared Miami squad?
I’m all for setting up the dramatic cliffhanger, but let’s face it folks, this should be over just about a millisecond after kickoff. But let’s not sell the Rattlers or this game short – FAMU boasts eight pre-season All-MEAC players (5 on first team, and 3 on the second): 1st Team – RB Philip Sylvester, WR Isaac West, MLB Alvis Graham, CB Qier Hall and K Trevor Scott. 2nd Team – WR Kevin Elliot, OT Christopher Sands.
FAMU was also predicted to finish in 2nd place in a vote of conference head coaches and sports information directors. They received two first place votes, and finished behind South Carolina State which received 15 first place votes.
So there you have it. Miami is facing a really good MEAC team. The Rattlers have some talent, and they didn’t come all the way down from Tallahassee just to lay down for a slaughter. Unfortunately, they may not have a choice. The curtain is set to rise on a highly anticipated season for the Hurricanes and its fans. FAMU is the opening scene…like the one in Russell Crowe’s Gladiator…where the Roman Legion squares off against the barbarian horde…and Maximus with grit and gravitas says to his men, “At my signal, unleash hell.” And, we all know how that scene closes don’t we? Now, how’s THAT for some dramatic effect?!
What Canes Pundit will be focusing on during the game.
- Miami’s linebackers and how well they stop the run – If there’s a single glaring weakness or shortcoming on this team, it’s the linebacking corp. Colin McCarthy provides the senior leadership, but has largely been steady but not spectacular. Sean Spence and Kylan Robinson or Ramon Buchanan will round out the starting trio. Stopping All-MEAC running back Philip Sylvester is the immediate goal, but really it’s more about how the linebackers play as a group as they prepare for Ohio State next week. Sylvester is no Brandon Saine and the OSU offensive line is annually a highly touted group.
- Miami’s offensive line play – The 2009 version of the offensive line played serviceably at best, and down-right atrocious at times. It’s a young and relatively inexperienced group. Orlando Franklin shifts over from guard to the most important position on the line – namely, Jacory Harris’ blind-side body guard. The left side seems set, but the right could still be a little unsettled. Joel Figueroa had been battling nagging injuries and just recently returned to practice. The interior hasn’t played extensively as a group, and need to get it together quickly.
- Miami’s 2nd stringers and how much game action they receive - Ideally, this game is put away early by the starters and the Hurricanes get some very much needed time on the field for their backups. As we’ve discussed on previous posts, depth and game experience play a big role in sustaining a strong push throughout the season. Last year, injuries really took a toll as the season wore on. Getting extensive play for the backups can only lead to good things down the line.
- Miami’s mix of running backs - Damien Berry leads the talented stable of running backs with Mike James, Lamar Miller and Storm Johnson likely to contribute a great deal during the year. It will be interesting to see how Whipple mixes up the attack and how game plans to have each running back complement the others. We likely won’t see too much of the offense tipped off during the FAMU game with OSU upcoming, but solid contributions and a spectacular play or two can add some game planning hours for the Buckeye defensive coaches.