Florida A&M vs. Miami: Complete Game Preview
The Miami Hurricanes (0-1) will look to rebound from an 18-point loss when they host in-state Football Championship Subdivision opponent Florida A&M (0-1) at Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 6.
Last week, the Rattlers fell to Jackson State 22-17 on a 50-yard prayer as time expired, starting the 2014 season on a rather deflating note.
Miami leads the series 8-1, winning each of the last eight meetings—including a 45-0 victory in 2010.
The game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be streamed on ESPN3.
Florida A&M Key to Victory
Play a Perfect Game
Florida A&M has one possible way to spring a major upset on Miami: perfection.
Force turnovers, protect the ball, no costly penalties, move the sticks, dominate the trenches, zero missed tackles, catch every pass. Perfection.
In a 76-0 rout at Ohio State last season, the Rattlers mustered 80 total yards of offense. Now, the Hurricanes defense is certainly not on par with that of the Buckeyes, but the unit is undoubtedly better than Florida A&M's offense.
Do the Rattlers have a chance? Well, sure, but it will take perfection.
Miami Keys to Victory
When Miami played an inferior opponent—granted, much more inferior than Florida A&M— in Savannah State last season, Duke Johnson returned a kickoff to the 5-yard line before Dallas Crawford punched it in. Stephen Morris connected with Allen Hurns for an 80-yard score on the next drive.
It was 14-0 before half of the ticket holders had found their seat—insert: Sun Life Stadium attendance joke—and the 'Canes proceeded to run away with the game.
Miami cannot let Florida A&M stick around, and jumping out to an early lead will be an important part of burying the Rattlers.
Let the Kid Play
Offensive coordinator James Coley needs to unleash Brad Kaaya. If the Hurricanes are running the true freshman onto the field, then trust him.
Repeatedly using bubble screens and the atrocity that is rolling left are simply not viable ways to generate offense. Kaaya's best throws in Week 1 were beyond the 15-yard range, and Coley needs to take advantage of what his quarterback does well.
Of course, he cannot match Stephen Morris' level of downfield passing, but Saturday is a valuable opportunity for Miami to let Kaaya gain experience with the entire playbook.
The entire playbook.
Florida A&M Players to Watch
Damien Fleming, Quarterback
The Hurricanes registered eight tackles for loss and four sacks against Louisville, which means Florida A&M quarterback Damien Fleming must be ready for constant pressure.
He is capable of extending plays with his legs, which will come in handy this weekend because Miami is certain to pressure the senior.
Fleming had a solid season debut, throwing for 188 yards and two touchdowns while running for 59 more yards. He'll need that modest momentum to continue Saturday night for the Rattlers to stay close to Miami.
Neal Cunningham, Safety
The sophomore safety played largely as a reserve last year, but he broke out during the season opener at Jackson State last weekend.
Starting his first career game, Cunningham tallied a team-high nine tackles, one interception and one pass breakup.
Cunningham will be forced to tackle Duke Johnson, Gus Edwards and Joseph Yearby at the second level while attempting to contain Stacy Coley after a disappointing three-catch game.
Miami Players to Watch
Phillip Dorsett, Wide Receiver
Morris launching a deep pass to Phillip Dorsett—when healthy—was a staple in the Hurricanes' play-calling over the last two years. Stretching the field has been a major part of the Miami offense, and Dorsett is the team's fastest receiver.
Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald notes that Dorsett ran a team-best 4.29-second 40-yard dash.
Kaaya targeted the speedster five times in Week 1, hooking up once for a 39-yard gain. An under-thrown ball resulted in an interception, and the freshman missed Dorsett on what could have been another 30-plus-yard gain.
Saturday is an excellent chance for the duo to establish a downfield connection before the competition heightens.
Thurston Armbrister, Linebacker
The Miami linebacking corps was the team's biggest question mark headed into the regular season, but Thurston Armbrister stepped up in a big way early on.
At Louisville, he played the best game of his college career, registering five tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Armbrister providing an impact at strong- and weak-side linebacker—as well as rush end—is crucial for the 'Canes defense.
Was the senior's strong performance versus the Cardinals a one-time thing? Armbrister needs to show his improvement wasn't a fluke.
What They're Saying
According to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel, Florida A&M head coach Earl Holmes acknowledged before the season that the team's schedule is quite difficult.
"It won't be easy, but the kids understand that," Holmes said. "As a coaching staff, we understand that. We need to hit the ground running, There are no easy games and that's why everything is intense."
Following the tough loss to Louisville, Miller Degnan reported head coach Al Golden said numerous changes were coming and had to made immediately.
"We have a lot of things we need to fix starting with me and the coaches. We'll start on that here tonight on the way back and get with the guys on Wednesday. We don't have a lot of time to sit around. We have to get better," he said.
This matchup won't be close for very long.
Miami will rack up more than 500 total yards of offense, riding a three-headed rushing attack of Johnson, Edwards and Yearby to victory. Coley will open the playbook for his freshman quarterback, and Kaaya will finish with 220 yards and two touchdowns.
Fleming and running back Gerald Hearns will have trouble getting past the Hurricanes' clearly improved defensive line, but manage a late touchdown.
Final Score: Miami 47, Florida A&M 7
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.
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