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Keys to the game: Texas A&M

The University of Miami will have another opportunity this week when it plays 20th-ranked Texas A&M to not only beat a nationally-ranked opponent, but play on national television. Canes fans once took these matchups for granted because UM always seemed to playing on national television. But these days with Miami out of the Top 25 poll, UM fans have to realize how important it is to not only have a game like this, but win a game like this considering where Miami is now compared to where it once was.

Winning games like these is what used to help Miami land other big-time recruits in state's like Texas and California. This week, a few potential Miami recruits including Texas safety Victor Johnson (who UM in his top 3) will be watching. The nation, like Johnson, knows its been a while since the Canes have won a big game. Beating an undefeated team at home in the OB on ESPN would go a long way in not only helping lifting the Canes out of their current "rebuilding stage," but help coach Randy Shannon have more in his back pocket when he goes into the living room for guys like Johnson and others Miami used to pull out of other states with regularity.

That being said, no matter what Las Vegas is saying about this game (Miami is a three-point favorite), I think we all can agree Miami should be the underdog in this game considering recent history and not distant history. Texas A&M comes in with one of the nation's most potent run (Aggies are ranked 5th) and scoring offenses (they've scored 14 TDs -- twice as many as UM) and have a dual-threat quarterback in Stephen McGee which looks a lot like the type of athlete that has caused Miami's defense problems in the past (READ SARAH ROTHCHILD'S STORY). The Canes offense, meanwhile, seems to be still stuck with a bad case of cantfindtheendzone. On paper, the Aggies should roll over Miami. But I'm going to try to give you five ways Miami can win this game.

1. GET THE OB ROCKING AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: I hate to point out Canesopener stats like this considering Miami's rich history, but the Canes are actually 1-7 against ranked opponents since losing to LSU in the Peach Bowl season. The good news, the last time Miami played at home against a Top 25 team, it won, beating 18th-ranked Boston College 17-14 in last year's season finale. But this being the Studentsectionfinal season in the OB and all, Canes fans ought to have the OB rocking. If Miami can keep their fans in the game, the Canes' 12th man should be loud enough down the stretch to get the Aggies a little nervous -- maybe enough to help Miami spring the upset.

2. SLOW DOWN THE RUN: OK, so No. 1 had nothing to do with what UM has to do on the field. But this one is the No. 1 issue for Miami on the gridiron in this game. If A&M runs the football like it has Am_stephen_mcgeeall season (they average 296.3 yards a game), the Canes are going to get blown out of the OB. So far, Miami's run defense is ranked 25th in the country this season (giving up an average of 51 yards a game). But they haven't faced a team like A&M before, which operates out of an option, quarterback zone read with McGee usually in the shotgun and running backs Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodman with him in the backfield. Defensive end Am_jorvorskie_laneCalais Campbell told me the closest comparison he could make was to Georgia Tech. Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said each of Miami's opponents have run a package with of it, but not to the obvious extent A&M does. "They're disciplined. Their offense does a lot of different things and they hope you make mistakes out of it," Campbell told me (TO LISTEN TO CAMPBELL AND HURTT BREAKDOWN A&M FOLLOW THE LINK TO OUR AUDIO SECTION).

- The good news is UM will be aided this week by the return of its three best defensive tackles -- Teraz McCray, Antonio Dixon and Dwayne Hendricks, who have been hampered by injuries. StoptherunHurtt told me their return should help Campbell and Miami's defensive ends not feel like they need to carry the burden and allow them to play balanced, a key to stopping this running game. I'm not going to set any goals this week as far as rushing numbers are concerned, but rather first downs and third down conversions. If UM can keep A&M around 12 to 15 first downs (the Aggies average 23.5) and keep their 3rd down conversion percentage below 40 percent (A&M averages 55 percent) then the Canes should have a chance to win this game.

3. MIAMI MUST MOVE THE CHAINS AND PROTECT THE BALL: I haven't totally given up on Miami's passing game. But I just not going to expect much from them until proven otherwise. That being said, A&M's defense isn't spectacular. The Aggies have given up more than 383 yards a game -- mostly on the ground (A&M's run defense has given up 151 yards a game). The key for the Aggies has been creating turnovers. They currently are +4 in the turnover battle. UM quarterback Kyle Wright had three turnovers himself last week. If he can stay error-free in this game and Javarris James, Graig Cooper and Shawnbrey McNeal, who I'm told will get some PT in this game, can help Miami's run offense, which is averaging 172 yards a game, run right around that total and pick up at least 10 first downs, then Canes could have a shot to win this game.

4. WIN ON SPECIAL TEAMS: This is one you can say every week. But the truth is the Canes haven't really proved much here yet. A&M has one of the best kick returners in the country in senior Kerry Am_kerry_franks Franks. The Big 12’s top kick returner in 2006 has continued to enhance his reputation as the league’s most dangerous return man. With most teams kicking away from him, Franks is still averaging 36.7 yards on three returns this season. Miami as we know hasn't been spectacular on kickoffs or punts of late. In a game like this where the defense is going to be most responsible for a Miami win, they need some field position help.

5. GET THE BIG PLAY: Last week against FIU, Lance Leggett broke free for an 80-yard touchdown pass. It was his only catch of the game. Miami really didn't have any other similar plays against Oklahoma. But against Marshall, they did get a Tavares Gooden interception to the 1 that setup a touchdown and a 50-yard run by Graig Cooper which setup another score. If Miami is going to win this game against A&M, they're going to need at least one big play -- a momentum changing turnover -- or a big run or pass on offense to help them to an easy score and give the offense a boost.

MY PREDICTION: Miami 22, Texas A&M 20. My head is telling me to pick A&M, that Miami simply isn't ready to win a game like this against an opponent that on paper clearly appears better. But the fact the Canes are at home, in their final season at the OB and the defense is getting three big weapons back makes me think this will end up being Randy Shannon's first big win in his coaching career. A&M, after all, hasn't exactly played a tough schedule. They beat Montana State 38-7, Louisiana Monroe 54-14 and needed triple overtime to beat Fresno State 47-45, a team that is 1-2 after getting blown out by Oregon 52-21 last week. This also A&M's first road game of the season. I'm thinking James, Cooper and McNeal tally more than 200 yards rushing and Francesco Zampogna kicks a career-high 5 field goals and UM holds on behind its defense and a last-second missed field goal by A&M to win.

Comments

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1st

I want UM to run the ball down their throat i saw the fresno state game and their defense is very soft...i think our defense will have a game like they did against marshall at some point u gotta have pride and control the game... they are extremely capable of doing so...KW just hand the ball off and play action....please coach nix no options!!!!! try to accomplish the basics before you get all cute....DC dont be scared to get on your players case during the game... they are young men now if they cant handle it they're just not U material....I BELIEVE IN THE CANES!!!! C-A-N-E-S

UM- 27
A&M- 10

Can't agree more. Here is a chance to gain some momentum with recruiting and going further into the season. Also heard Glenn Sharpe is back.

LOL... one key ingredient in A&M's wins is... they scored a lot of points. UM's defense has impressed NO ONE. Picking UM to beat any top 25 program home or away is foolish and i feel that you are appeasing your followship. They have done absolutely NOTHING to deserve any kind of respect. They have done NOTHING to make ANY ONE think they will score points against A&M or stop A&M from scoring. Your heart tells you to go with A&M because Shannon has offered a pathetic display of a coach... his excuse that he lacks talent is a JOKE much the same his coaching mentality is... so how long do we endure his shameful performance before he gets... Das Boot?

If the U is hungry, takes care of business. scores early and often and plays the big D, they can do this but the Aggies will not be afraid of the U and will come after them. Should be a good game.

Hey HUH?

Your moniker is apt.......

It's obvious you haven't got a clue, only the ability to kamikaze to unfounded and misinformed premature conclusions.

A&M's numbers mean NOTHING because their opponents have been complete garbage. I'm not saying we will win, but I will say that we shouldn't be scared of what A&M has done so far this year.

Manny i agree with you. I'm still waiting and waiting for the offense to give me any confidence. The one 80 yard play against an overmatched team who blew the coverage is not a sign of anything. The offense has yet to look crisp other then on occasional runs. That said A&M is overated. Being here in Big 12 country ( Hope you enjoyed yor visit)I know that ther is only one great team in the conference and we already played them.( The ACC is not much better if at all) A and M is very limited and have played no one. ( I'm not sure what on paper means) With a vocal home crowd and DT's who weigh more then 240 I like our chances, but it won't be pretty.Coop, Baby J and SM are going to have to get it done. I'd still like to be shocked and see a crisp passing game, but I'm not optimistic.

Hullabaloo Caneck! Caneck! Hullabaloo Caneck! Caneck! I can't wait to see the good 'ol boys from Texas AMC lay the wood to the CoCanes!! WHOOP! i suppose it won't be like the last time these 2 teams met (good guys 70 - hurriconvicts 14), but it will be similar. kylie Wrong can't throw, and there's NO WAY y'all can run on the Wrecking Crew. We always win halftime too!! WHOOP! overall, A&M has the better team, players, coaches, and most importantly, the tradition. what are y'all gonna do? run out in mist?? oooo la la. y'all can't even fill up your stadium. oh wait, y'all dont even have a stadium!!! hahaha. poooooooor CoCanes! It won't even be close . . Fightin Texas Aggies 31, CoCanes 10.

Gig 'em Aggies!
WHOOP!

You know, every time I read coverage of this game, I get a wicked flashback of the reporting pre-VT two years ago.

A&M's vaunted offense has played three teams on par with the Marshall squad that our weak O dismantled. Truth is, we have no idea how good their offense will be against a decent D, and we have no clue how good if our offense will lay another egg (a la last weeks FIU performance.)

I'm not drinking the Miami homer Kool-Aid, but no way I'm buying into the hype that A&M has the best offense since USC of three years ago. One of these teams will be exposed tomorrow...

Here are my keys:
1. Be aggressive on offense. Score TD's often and early to make A&M play catch-up. If Miami scores first, they must realize a 21pt deficit is needed for A&M to get out of their game plan. So, don't get overly excited about a 7pt lead, work towards a 3 TD lead.

a. Make aggressive mistakes on offense.

b. Don't take "what the defense gives you". Play to your strengths and make the defense prove they can stop you first. Let the WR's know the ball is going to be there, and they have to make plays on it.

c. Make sure you have a vertical and horizontal threat on each passing play. Allow Kyle an opportunity to be aggressive down the field and give him help if there is blitz pressure.

2. Minimize 3rd and long, which means Miami has to win on 1st and 2nd downs. Which relates to limiting negative plays and zero yardage runs.

3. Convert more than 40% of third downs. Obviously, Miami will need to convert a few 3rd and longs. But they will need to convert 80 -100% of 3rd and shorts.

4. Never hang your head low and believe in the power of the "Big Play" it heals all the pain of struggling. Momentum is a factor in College Football, if you lose it, fight to get it back.

5. Approach 3rd downs as "do or die" situations:
a. Keep A&M in 3rd and long
b. Win your share of battles on 3rd and short
c. Remember the objective is to get off the field on third downs.
d. Focus on not giving them cheap plays and forcing A&M to make great plays to beat them. Know where the distance markers are.
e. No defensive penalties on 3rd down.

6. Tackle well and run to the ball. Minimize the missed tackles by ensuring that you make contact with the offensive player in the open field.

7. The Defensive of Tackles have know when to hold the line of scrimmage and keep the OG/OC off the Linebackers. Also, they need to know when to be aggressive and rush the QB.

8. Guard against the cut block.

9. Beware of the A&M passing plays to the WR's early in the game. They are a smoke screen. If you stop the passing early, they will go back to there bread and butter - option and TE passes.

10. Play loose and apply the pressure on A&M.

team-- stop dreaming. no way we beat a&m. we have a long way to go to undo the coker years. patience is the order of the day for us. hard work. discipline. good recruiting. our breakthrough will come-- but not tomorrow night.

btw-- we need to get rid of the choir boy prototype-- we need to go back to the days of ruffian, in your face, competitors for whom winning was like breathing-- nice guys finish last in this game!!!

Hullabaloo Caneck! Caneck! Hullabaloo Caneck! Caneck! I can't wait to see the good 'ol boys from Texas AMC lay the wood to the CoCanes!! WHOOP! i suppose it won't be like the last time these 2 teams met (good guys 70 - hurriconvicts 14), but it will be similar. kylie Wrong can't throw, and there's NO WAY y'all can run on the Wrecking Crew. We always win halftime too!! WHOOP! overall, A&M has the better team, players, coaches, and most importantly, the tradition. what are y'all gonna do? run out in mist?? oooo la la. y'all can't even fill up your stadium. oh wait, y'all dont even have a stadium!!! hahaha. poooooooor CoCanes! It won't even be close . . Fightin Texas Aggies 31, CoCanes 10.

Gig 'em Aggies!
WHOOP!

Posted by: Paul M | September 19, 2007 at 05:52 PM

Hilarious!!!! I luv my canes... But I gotta say this was funny!!!

I know I am WAY out on a limb here, but here's my call which will either be total genius or complete crash and burn:

1. Canes 34, Aggies 27.

2. Kyle and Sam Shields have carreer days and Hank gets his first TD as a Cane.

3. The TEs show up big and get 7-8 catches between them.

4. Special Teams and Defense both get a score for 14 of the Canes 34 total points.

5. I smile for the first time in a very long time and get to say I told U so!

Go Canes, beat TAMU!

Manny...by the way, nice post. Love the format with the pictures inserted into the text. Looks good!

Thanks again for the live chat last night here at Eye On The U. See you next week on the Canespace blog on Tuesday from 8-9 PM.

Go Canes!!!

Does anybody have projected attendance numbers?

I can't remember when the Canes scored 30+ points consistently. Unfortunately this might be another UM offensive snoozefest. I'll be there hoping for offensive breakout

Nice job Manny. Your doin a great jo on the blog this year. Omar who?

C'mon now Manny is Good and he's doing a great job, but to say Omar who? That is pushing it a bit. Omar had a following that really set a precedent for others to follow. If that were not true there would be no need to mention his name in a comment. Keep up the good work Manny you are close, but not quite there yet. Kickin'Azz tho!

Goooooooooooooooo C-A-N-E-S Canes!!

OTHER teams better get there licks in now because they won't be coming on this blog come next year. We will win against A&M tomorrow night. The football gods will start to favor us due to hillbilly AMERICA showing their wicked behind against. They call call us thugs, COcane and all other BIAS stuff because of our program having down years. One day the tide will turn because NO ONE STAYS DOWN FOREVER. IT WAS JUST OUR TURN TO BE AT THE BOTTOM BUT SOON WE'LL BE BACK AT THE TOP! STARTING TOMORROW WE'LL BE CLIMBING BACK UP AND NEVER LOOKING BACK! After this year The last will finish first while the first will finish last.

Canes 02

I agree, Omar was the best of the best. Who in the entire world of football blogs can say they can generate more than 200,000 hits a month..... AND THIS IS A LITTLE OLE PRIVATE SCHOOL. MIAMI is unique and have a lot of fans world wide unlike most of americas traditional schools who have more regional fan base.

Canes02, get real: Not quite there yet?

Manny and the Herald smoke those guys in their sleep and twice on Tuesdays! And if you don't think so what are you doing here? Go read that guy on the SS Dolphins blog if you prefer, but don't come on here dissin Manny. That bird won't fly.

Mr. Fishguy or whatever you call yourself:

You to? Don't come on here mentioning that other guy. Manny will beat that, give him time. Manny is hard core 305. RESPECT.

Shoot even those guys over at Canespace have 220,000+ hits in three months and they are not even a media outlet, just a bunch of Canes fans who love the Canes. RESPECT.

Real canes guy,

U seem a little childish calling someone out their name. How old are U? By the way, i wasn't dissing Manny or his blog... I was only stating facts so why are U sticking your chest out for him. Omar is a legend over at SS just like the LEGION that started with him over three years ago. We are not bashing MANNY , shoot I bet he has much more respect for OMar than U do. But hey everyone has an opinion just like they have a mouth to talk or eat SH*t!

I gave Manny his props he is good and I said that. Its just that Omar built Disney World while you guys were at a parking lot carnival. Manny is doing an excellent job! Just remeber Jay-Z didn't really get noticed until Tupac and Biggie died! Nascar was a one man sport until the True King of Nascar #3 crashed and lost his life.
So I give Manny props and respect but acknowledge Omar not S-S. Ya feel me?!
Thanks Troutman for telling it like it is!!

How can I bet all my house and all I own on this game? Miami favored. Are you kiddin me?
I'm on my way to Vegas. No way Miami covers this. A&M will out right win this game and make it look easy. 31-13. A&M. Take it to the bank.

Gotta agree Dave. This one is over by halftime. The AM O-line will roll and the backs will run for 5 yards at a pop. 5-7 minute drives will lead to touchdowns and our O will be 3 and out, and the process starts over. It's a matter of how far the wheels fall off.

AM 30 UM 10

Looking forward to seeing McNeal get more carries. Maybe it was just me but I thought I saw flashes of something special in his few carries against FIU.

They need this win, I dont care what they have to do, if they have to resort to stealing A&M's defensive signals then do it. Just win baby!

C$,

With McNeal speed I see at least one or two break aways this evening. If we block right we will have at least 275 yards rushing and 250 yds passing giving us over 500 yards in total offense. with that we can move up in Totak offense production. RESPECT STARTS TONIGHT, CANES WILL WIN THIS GAME IF THEY COME OUT AND PLAY!!

So I give Manny props and respect but acknowledge Omar not S-S. Ya feel me?!

Posted by: Canes02 | September 20, 2007 at 05:15 AM video & dave hyde aside, sunsentinel possesses no redeeming qualities.

http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/sports_college_hurricanes/2007/06/dear_um.html#comment-71836104 Just wanted to wish you luck on your new journey. Even though we are supposed to be competitors, you never made me feel uncomfortable out there even though I was a rookie and you were a wily vet. You were thoughtful, helpful and most of all respectful. You also pushed me to bring my A-game every time I was out there. Going to miss you out at practice, on those road trips and every time one of those debates come up in the media room. Best of luck on the Dolphins beat.

Posted by: Manny (from The Herald) | June 05, 2007 at 04:48 PM

From Aggieland: Good luck tonight 'Canes...but not too much! I think it will be a great game. Although I think my Aggies will be victorious, I know it will probably be a tough battle. A&M does not have a great record playing on Thursday nights. I think the Oregon v. Fresno State game was a little deceiving. Don't forget FS played us to triple overtime and then had to play Oregon on a Thursday night...not much time to rest. On the contrary, A&M got to rest their offensive starters for the entire 4th quarter against UL-Monroe.

I'd like to address the rude comments posted on here by Paul M. Just so you know he has been going on to the Houston Chronicle website talking smack about how he is a Miami fan...he is playing both sides of the fence and he is NOT an Aggie. My prediction: A&M 35-17

http://www.umcategory5.com/photos/2007-09-19.html pep rally photos & video. notice our lush campus ...

I'd like to address the rude comments posted on here by Paul M. Just so you know he has been going on to the Houston Chronicle website talking smack about how he is a Miami fan...he is playing both sides of the fence and he is NOT an Aggie. Posted by: Mike B. | September 20, 2007 at 10:20 AM agent provocateur

GREENSBORO (theacc.com) -- Two members of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Georgia Tech's George Morris and Virginia's Joe Palumbo and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Miami's Jim Kelly, headline a contingent of 12 former standout football players who were chosen as the ACC's 2007 ACC Football Championship Game Legends class ...

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas freshman running back James Henry has been charged with two felony counts of obstruction and tampering with evidence, making him the sixth Longhorns player arrested since June.

http://www.oxfordpress.com/sports/content/shared/sports/stories/2007/09/FBC_BOHLS_COLUMN_0920_COX.html "Have the Longhorns become the new U?" by kirk bohls. perpetuating a misperception ...

I'm not terribly confident about this game, although A&M appears overrated. I think we have a shot, but I wouldn't put too much stock in this game.

Regardless of how we did against OU and how we do against A&M, we still have a chance in the ACC (really -- is there an ACC team that we can't beat?). I'd like to see us do good things tonight and show some life -- establishing a passing game sure would be nice.

As for Paul M., can someone please get me an English-Aggie / Aggie-English translation book so I can understand what the f*** he's talking about?

I hope you're right Manny, this is a big game on so many levels.

Displaced Cane is right. I wouldn't get too worked up about tonight. This team is just not that good. That said, the ACC is just terrible. Worse than last year.

I'd love to think the Canes will win, but until they can score 20+ points on a quality Div I team, I won't believe it will happen.

Sad to say, but I'll go with

AM 34
UM 13

We'll probably get the 13 in the first half and shut out after that. This team just cannot score in the second half.

i put everything i know about football on this. MIAMI WILL WIN!!! THE OFFENSE WILL BE MUCH BETTER 2NITE..

COACH NIX; PLEASE!!!!! PUT COOPER IN THE SLOT WITH JENKINS AND LEGGET SPREAD WIDE. BABY J IN THE BACKFIELD. THAT WILL PUT THE U'S BEST 11 ON OFFENSE AT THE SAME TIME...

GO CANES!!!! WHERE ALL ORANGE; DONT B A LAME

Cane in Chi-Town,

Paul M is not an Aggie. He is a Longhorn trying to stir up trouble.

green, http://www.umcategory5.com/photos/2007-09-19.html pep rally photos & video. notice our lush campus ...

Wow, how many people were at that pep rally, like 100 people.

100 people at the pep-rally says NYCFIUFan. About as many losses FIWho has since the start of their football program.

RANDY IS GOD! ACC WE HAVE AWOKEN!

We're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

"No way Miami beats A&M"
"A&M wins 31-10...and makes it look easy"

Looks like a lot of TAMU Faggies were shut up.

-Miami won 34-17 and made it look easy.
(the score doesn't even show the true dominance.)

-your O-line is a joke ('canes in the backfield all day)

-Kyle Wright was Mr. Right tonight, btw. Hell of a game.

GO CANES.

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