We are only a few hours away before Year No. 2 gets underway for coach Randy Shannon and his team tries to begin cleaning the taste of last year's 5-7 season out of its mouth. Charleston Southern, a Football Championship Subdivsion school (that's fancy for I-AA), awaits at 7:30 tonight at Dolphin Stadium.
There are so many new things with this team this year. New stadium. New defensive coordinator. New starters and players all over the field. In less than an hour, I'll be hosting my weekly live Q&A at a new time and place here at MiamiHerald.com. Normally, we used to hook up on Tuesday nights, but The Herald wants me to do this right after lunch when most of you probably aren't working and surfing the net anyway!
I have few notes and thoughts to share with you. Normally, I'd have a list of Keys to The Game waiting for you before kickoff, but seeing how this is Charleston Southern, I'll give you an abbreviated edition:
> The key to this game for UM is coming out of it healthy and with a decisive margin of victory. Miami only has four healthy defensive ends heading into this game -- three are true freshmen. With Allen Bailey and Eric Moncur battling back from injury and Adewale Ojomo suspended for the opener, a young, inexperienced defensive line cannot afford to be shorthanded moving forward. Especially, with a trip to the Swamp on tap next week.
> So what do the Bucs run? Charleston Southern (5-6 in '06) will run the spread on offense and will look at lot like the Gators -- just without Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and the rest of the Gators' personnel. Cornerback Chavez Grant told me earlier this week while UM is still getting adjusted to new defensive coordinator Bill Young's aggressive defense, this is almost the perfect game for UM to make mistakes and fix them before facing the real thing in Gainesville. Defensively, Shannon told reporters this week the Bucs' have a new defensive coordinator and they aren't sure what they will run against UM. Offensive tackle Jason Fox told us the line is expecting to see a lot of zone blitzing.
> My prediction: UM 37, Charleston Southern 3 . I'd like to think the Canes could produce more touchdowns against a bad FCS opponent. But we got to remember we're going to see a lot of young guys playing in this game. Fox told us earlier this week, the plan was to come out and pound the ball with the running game. If that happens, the clock will run quickly in this one. I think Jacory Harris finishes with a little over 200 yards passing and 2 TDs -- one to Travis Benjamin and one to Aldarius Johnson -- and Javarris James, Graig Cooper and Derron Thomas each finish with over 75 yards rushing and they collect two touchdowns between them.
THE STOCK REPORT...
One thing I'd like to make a weekly feature on here and didn't get a chance to doing yesterday since I was filming a TV segment for the Dolphins High School Gridiron Report, which is set to run Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. on CBS, is a weekly Stock Report.
This week's report will encompass everything that happened in fall camp.
> Marcus Robinson, defensive end: Even before we knew Allen Bailey and Eric Moncur were going to be out
for the opener for sure, Robinson was making moves up the depth chart on the defensive line. Shannon raved about his future after practice and defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said he could become an excellent third-down pass rushing specialist. Now, he's starting the season opener. Not bad for a converted linebacker and true freshman.
> Travis Benjamin, receiver: When Miami signed seven receivers in February, Benjamin wasn't the name
everyone was raving about. Yet, this fall, when the lights were on during the scrimmages, he shined, flashing his 4.26-seed in the 40-yard dash and proving he can be a playmaker. I'm interested to see how much Benjamin will be able to help this team right away.
> Leonard Hankerson, receiver: The St. Thomas Aquinas grad disappeared for awhile
and looked like he might get lost among the talented incoming freshmen. But he saved his best performance for last in the fall, catching three touchdowns in the final scrimmage to earn the starting nod at Split End. He might become the most reliable possession receiver on this team.
STOCK IS SLIPPING
> Arthur Brown, linebacker: It's tough for me to list a true freshman on here. But Brown
is a kid who came in with so much hype. The fact he was passed on the depth chart by Jordan Futch, who got here in the fall, after Brown himself arrived in the spring isn't a good sign. Brown, who we know from the spring needed help with his tackling technique, told us Monday he's still learning the playbook. Here's to hoping he gets it soon because when he's on the field he can be a force.
> Adewale Ojomo, defensive end Getting suspended is never a good thing. But the Scout
Team Defensive MVP from a year ago couldn't have done it at a worse time. Next week, Allen Bailey and Eric Moncur are set to return and this week while Ojomo is sitting on the sidelines, guys like Robinson, Steven Wesley and Gavin Hardin will have a chance to shine. Ojomo could find himself back at the end of line not only for disciplinary reasons, but because other guys prove they can do his job.