It’s gameday. The Miami Hurricanes will face the UAB Blazers Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium, kicking off their 2020 campaign.
305Sports’ UM writers gave their score prediction and analysis entering Week 1.
Anthony Yero, Lead Hurricanes Writer
42-10 Miami: After scouting UAB’s match against Central Arkansas, three things are clear to me: their running back room is their biggest threat, their quarterback room is weak and their run defense is exploitable.
Blazer running back Spencer Brown comes into the 2020 season healthy and with over 3,100 career rushing yards on his resume. He picked apart Central Arkansas’ defense for 127 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries last week and it’s clear he’s their go-to guy.
Miami’s rush defense ranked No. 17 in the country last season, allowing 114.6 yards per game. While Brown should give UM trouble, it shouldn’t be enough to give UAB the win on Thursday.
Quarterback play is mediocre. Tyler Johnston III has a knack for throwing the ball into contested areas for interceptions and redshirt freshman Bryson Lucero lacks aim on his deep ball. Neither are mobile, and with the defensive presences of Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips, they should have either quarterback struggling to get a pass off.
As for the Hurricanes’ offense, anything less than 35 points would be upsetting. Rhett Lashlee’s offense at SMU scored 41.8 points last season, which ranked for No. 7 in the nation. Miami’s offense, which has better players than SMU, should meet or exceed those expectations.
UM’s 22.6 points per game last season was clearly not enough to win them football games last season no matter how good the defense was. Against a Group of Five team like UAB, Miami has to light up the scoreboard and come in confident for their match against ACC foe Louisville next week.
Michael Yero, Lead Hurricanes Writer
27-3 Miami: Other than the running game, UAB’s offense, led by quarterback Tyler Johnston III, simply doesn’t have a fear factor to cause Miami any harm. Recording three turnovers against an FCS squad last week, the Hurricanes should have a solid outing if they can capitalize off of the Blazers’ mistakes.
I won’t advocate for a specific player to be key to UM’s success until tomorrow’s game, as I’m confident that it’ll be an overall collective effort instead of a one-man show.
Miami won’t likely have a lights-out performance offensively, as things will likely slow down after the Canes possess a comfortable lead early in the third quarter.
Jose Zarraluqui, Hurricanes Writer
54-17 Miami: UAB is a very interesting matchup for Miami week one. The high powered Blazers offense will be a perfect challenge for Miami’s defense. For the Hurricanes to have success vs. UAB, D’Eriq King must get it going not only in the air but on the ground as well. Cam’Ron Harris and Jaylon Knighton will most likely be getting the most reps at the running back position, and they must take advantage of it.
The run game is key for Miami.
When it comes to receiving, Mike Harley, Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope need to prove Lashlee’s offensive scheme with their outstanding speed. Obviously tight end Brevin Jordan needs to get involved and prove that he’s still a top tight end in the nation after missing parts of last season due to a left ankle injury. The offensive line must also step up and give King some time in the pocket.
Defensively, Miami will have to play with a lot of discipline. UAB’s offense had a solid outing vs. Central Arkansas, so they have already built some sort of momentum there. Miami’s defensive line will have to prove themselves as one of the best units in the nation with Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips.
UAB saw a lot of success on the ground in their season opener, so Miami’s front seven will be something to keep an eye on. The talented secondary for the Canes will also be a huge focus. This unit noticed some inconstancies last season, which will need to change this season, starting with Week 1. Overall, this game will be very interesting to watch, with coach Manny Diaz starting his second season as head coach.
The spread favors Miami (-14.5), and I expect the Canes to cover but not easily. Don’t expect UM to come out the gates and dominate immediately. I believe Miami will start off sluggish but eventually pull away.
Trent Lima, Hurricanes Writer
36-17 Miami: Where do I think we will see the biggest improvement? The rushing attack. I believe Cam’Ron Harris will have himself a day as the lead back following with Jaylon Knighton who will prove the hype right and provide an explosive edge to the backfield when Harris needs a breather.
I also think that this will be the Mark Pope game. It seems like we’ve been talking about the emergence of the former five-star receiver for forever now, but something is telling me that the day is tomorrow. We have heard coach Rob Likens say that he possesses as much ability as anyone he has ever coached. We are also seeing a higher workload as he was named one of the three starting receivers and the starting kick and punt returner.
Does the extra trust the coaches are putting on Pope mean that he’s finally started to solidify himself as the player we know him to be? I think tomorrow will be the day we find out.
Where do I think we will see the biggest improvement? The secondary. I think returning incumbent starters Al Blades Jr. and DJ Ivey was huge in improving the secondary. Miami also returns veteran safety Amari Carter, and Bubba Bolden and Gurvan Hall both have another year under their belt.
Experience can never be underestimated, and the Hurricanes are miles more experienced in the secondary than they were a year ago. Not to mention that backups Christian Williams and Te’Corey Couch are entering their redshirt freshman year with goals to make a bigger impact either in the slot or if Blades or Ivey go down. I think tomorrow will prove just how loaded Miami is on the edge given the loss potential 2021 first-round pick Gregory Rousseau, as they still have a preseason first-team All American’s lining up for them in Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips.
The linebackers and strikers are in good hands behind long time veteran Zack Mcloud and the less-experienced Bradley Jennings. I think Miami will also see Keontra Smith for the first time at striker. I have no worries about the defense in tomorrow’s game as long as the offense takes care of business.
Tyler Bordash, Hurricanes Writer
38-17 Miami: Miami just has too much talent and depth for UAB to handle, especially in the second half. The Hurricanes pass rush will cause problems all night for Tyler Johnston III and the Blazers, who struggled with turnovers in their week 1 win over Central Arkansas. A fun night should be in store for Miami and their fans on Thursday.