Monday Night Football? The U? This used to be a big deal. Both Miami and Maryland will debut new coaches, though the two programs are in vastly different situations. Maryland is a college girl, flitting around in sexy outfits to attract attention. Miami has been there, but is now in its late 20s, sober and desperately removing Facebook tags.
Miami’s Present: The Hurricanes, almost certainly, will face a postseason ban and crippling scholarship reductions. For now, though, a relatively full-strength team remains, the coach is stuck there and there’s football to be played. Al Golden faced a tough task before the scandal broke, with the Hurricanes coming off a disappointing 7-6 season and a malaise lasting the better part of a decade. Now, off-field distractions and impending doom may make success impossible, but, on paper, Golden does have the raw material.
Statistically, Miami were decent last season. In yards per play, they finished 34th on offense (3rd ACC) and 17th on defense (3rd ACC). They moved the ball (and stopped other teams from moving it) proficiently enough to compete for an ACC title. Poor execution, poor clock management and coaching and having an unscrupulous dumpster fire at quarterback, prevented them from getting there.
Suspensions: The NCAA meted out suspensions to present players for Shapiro-gate. For this game, at least, those suspensions should be critical. Jacory Harris is the national name, though, with Miami intending to measure the quarterback’s role to avoid mistakes anyway, the critical losses come on defense. Miami will be missing two All-American candidates, Marcus Forston and Ray Ray Armstrong, as well as linebackers Sean Spence and their two starting defensive ends.
Miami on Offense: The Hurricanes have a big-time tailback, Lamar Miller, and return a strong interior of the offensive line. Tackles and receiver are bigger questions. The biggest comes at quarterback. The answer seems to be running between the tackles, early and often. Maryland’s defense improved radically last year, from the 80s to a Top-20 unit and talented All-ACC safety Kenny Tate will return (as a hybrid linebacker). Though, with a new coordinator and new starters in all three phases, it’s hard not to see a significant drop off.
Maryland on Offense: The Terps don’t have Miami’s hares, but they will run nonetheless, as a Randy Edsall coached team. Most of the offensive line returns. Maryland brings back a solid running back tandem and freshman standout Danny O’Brien at quarterback. The biggest issue is at receiver. They lost their best two with no obvious replacement. Full-strength Miami would cause Maryland problems. Depleted Miami could look vulnerable on the defensive line and in the secondary.
Prediction: Expect this to be a rather drab affair. Both teams field defenses screaming for an opponent to prod them. Neither offense is ambitious enough to take advantage. Maryland is at home and not suffering from massive off-field distractions, but I still see Miami pulling out an ugly 21-17 type win. I would stay away from the spread given the Miami uncertainty, but like the under (45).
[Photo via Getty]
Previously: Maryland Trying To Become Under Armour’s Oregon
Previously: As Yahoo! Sports Blows Miami Wide Open, Dan Le Batard Urges Calm
Previously: Nevin Shapiro Spoke to Prospective Coaches for Miami. Claims He Wasn’t On Their Radar Look Increasingly Less Credible.
Previously: Nevin Shapiro’s Revelations Leave Miami Staring at Football Program’s Death