The Miami Hurricanes’ schedule is set, with UAB expected to be their non-conference game this upcoming season.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald announced the news on Twitter, also claiming that Temple was another option for the Hurricanes before choosing the Blazers.
Miami’s 11-game schedule is now the following: Home: Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Virginia. Road: Clemson, Louisville, NC State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Non-conference: UAB.
The game will be hosted at Hard Rock Stadium, as both teams regulate the ACC’s safety medical protocols, which forces the game to be played in Florida.
What To Expect
Led by coach Bill Clark, the Blazers have been one of the best teams in the C-USA since the program returned from a two-year hiatus in 2015-16. UAB finished the 2019 regular season 9-3, winning the west division in C-USA before losing to FAU and Appalachian State in the postseason.
Since the program returned to football in 2017, much of the UAB roster is heading into their final year of eligibility, which could be a little worrisome for the Hurricanes. UAB returns nearly all of their production on both sides of the ball and their best football could still be ahead of them.
On offense, quarterback Tyler Johnston III enters his third year as the starter, coming off a career-best 2250 passing yards and 17 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. Senior running back Spencer Brown was the leading rusher in 2019 despite only averaging 3.8 yards per carry (566 yards on the year).
The Blazers will have their best weapons on the outside, returning their top 5 pass catchers from 2019. Austin Watkins (Cousin of Sammy Watkins) led the team with 57 catches and 1092 yards as a junior. Watkins was named second team All-Conference USA and is considered one of the top returning receivers in the country.
On the defensive side, first-team All-Conference USA linebacker Kristopher Moll returns for his senior season as the leader for Blazers. In 2019, he finished with 104 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 9 sacks. Moll is a Coral Gables native and will be looking forward to a homecoming game this fall.
Redshirt junior cornerback Brontae Harris is one of the top play makers in the Blazer secondary. Harris finished the 2018 season (missed 2019 with an injury) with 11 pass breakups and 2 interceptions. He was also graded out as the top cornerback in C-USA as a sophomore.
Keys To The Game
Going into the game, UM will surley be a heavy favorite over the Blazers. Still, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken lightly. This game has the feeling of a “trap game” for Miami, as UAB doesn’t have the recognition or respect that ACC schools do, which could lead to pettiness on the Hurricanes side, similar to what happened against FIU last season.
For Miami to avoid a close game down the stretch, they’ll have to jump on UAB early and often. Manny Diaz’s squad had the tendency to start slow in 2019, especially offensively. If the Hurricanes can avoid the first-half struggles they should be in good shape to blow the game open in the second half.
Miami will also have to limit star receiver Austin Watkins and make other players on the UAB offense beat them. The Blazers struggled with keeping the ball in 2019, having a -11 turnover differential in their 5 losses. If Miami can bring out the turnover chain and avoid turning the ball over on offense, it should be smooth sailing for Diaz’s bunch.
The biggest key to the game for the Hurricanes will be limiting penalties, which constantly kill drives and keep possessions alive for an opposing offense. If Miami can limit the mistakes, it’ll make it that much more difficult for UAB to score on the Hurricanes.