Hate to call a team out this early in the season. Hate to call out anyone. Who likes being called out? But if Miami's offense fails to have a good day yet again today against FIU, then maybe there is reason to have plenty of doom and gloom about this season.
FIU, my alma mater, hasn't won a game since... 2005. Yikes! The Golden Panthers have given up 59 points to Penn State and 26 to Maryland. They've given up 185 yards a game on the ground and 224 through the air. They've got a redshirt freshman starting at quarterback. Translation = no excuses for the Canes today to look mystified or to struggle in this game too much.
Kyle Wright, who technically should be counted on as a three-year starter, has to look good. Not just pretty good. But real good. The Hurricanes' offense need this game to establish some sort of momentum heading into next week's Texas A&M game. With that, I've set up my five goals for the Canes today. If the Canes meet all five, then there might be reason to believe this UM team really is better than last year's 7-6 team.
1. MOVE THE FOOTBALL THROUGH THE AIR: Wright needs to make the same 10- to 15-yard completions downfield he did last week -- albeit briefly -- against Oklahoma. Miami's receivers can't continue to drop balls, either. Against FIU, UM's receivers should have plenty of time make, clean crisp plays. If they can't do it against the Golden Panthers and continue to drop easy balls, then the receivers really are as bad as they've looked the past two seasons. Wright should pass for over 200 yards and throw at least two touchdowns. Modest goals. But I'm aiming low considering what we've seen the past several seasons.
2. JAVARRIS JAMES AND GRAIG COOPER SHOULD GO BONKERS!: FIU's run defense is not very good. Miami's offensive line should have no problem pushing the Golden Panthers around and opening up holes for James and Cooper to run through. The goal should be 185 yards on the ground, 2-3 touchdowns. I'm interested to see if James gets the ball this week in goalline situations like he should have against OU.
3. BIG DAY FOR THE SECONDARY: Miami's secondary needs to gain a little confidence back after having skid marks left on its back last week to the Sooners and giving up too many big plays to Marshall. Is Kenny Phillips going to continue to support the run? Or is Tim Walton going to let him stand back in the secondary and make some big hits and plays on receivers? FIU is averaging less than 99 yards passing a game. The Golden Panthers can't have a season-high today. Keep your eyes on whomever starts opposite DeMarcus Van Dyke at corner. My money is Carlos Armour to prove he's the best guy for the job. Goal: Less than 150 yards passing, 1-2 INTs.
4. HOW ABOUT SOME PRESSURE!: Miami's defensive line is a little dinged up right now. But there's still no reason Eric Moncur, Calais Campbell and the crew can't get the kind of pressure on FIU quarterback Wayne Younger, who has been taken to the turn 7 times. Miami's defensive line needs at least three sacks today.
5. DEEP KICKS NEEDED: Daren Daly lost his starting job on kickoffs. Now Francesco Zampogna needs to prove he's better. The Canes may not need to worry too much about field position today. But it would be nice to see Zampogna kick the ball deep enough where FIU isn't getting the ball on the 35 or 40 after every Miami score. Matt Bosher's 39-yard net average is actually pretty good. Even though his punts haven't necessarily looked it. A deep one from him today would be nice.
PREDICTION: Pain for the Golden Panthers. Miami won 35-0 last year. No reason to think the margin shouldn't be a little wider considering FIU is younger and less experienced this year. Plus, UM needs to flext its muscle after last week's national embarrassment. Miami should win easy. I'll say 45-6. Kyle Wright will throw for 250 yards, 3 TDs and Lance Leggett will have a big day. Javarris James will run for 2 scores and over 150 yards. Campbell will have three sacks by himself.
- Don't forget to switch over to our high school coverage after the UM-FIU game. Northwestern and its five Hurricane commitments -- quarterback Jacory Harris, receiver Aldraius Johnson, offensive tackle Brandon Washington, linebacker Sean Spence and defensive tackle Marcus Forston -- will play the nation's No. 1 high school team. I'll be there doing some live blogging. I will not be doing live blogging during today's game since I'm obviously not in Miami. But feel free to pour in your thoughts as today's Canes games progresses. I'll be listening online to WQAM.
- Also, great to see former Cane Kevin Everett making some progress following his injury Sunday. I believe he's not only going to walk again, but play again in the NFL. The work his doctor's did right after the injury saved his life. Keep fighting Big E. We're behind you.