Big Game Expected For The Miami Hurricanes Against Central Michigan

WQAM Radio
September 20, 2019 - 4:45 pm
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When the University of Miami routed Bethune Cookman last Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium, it gave first year head coach Manny Diaz his first win at the collegiate level. It also set this Hurricane program on a course to get back on track.

As bad as everyone made the first two losses of the season against Power 5 and Top 10 opponent University of Florida, and Coastal Division foe North Carolina on the road, the next month can put this program back on course to accomplish what many felt they could do when Diaz took over.

From an active off season that included the transfer portal, a new indoor practice facility and updating this program, bringing it up to standards, the 63-0 win against Bethune Cookman was the first in several steps in giving this Hurricane program, a positive identity, where negative talk has surrounded the ‘Canes for nearly two decades.

Finding the right fit these days at the college level is certainly not easy, and with all the moves that Diaz has made, you can see progress being made – and with every win and each major accomplishment, you will witness attitudes changing.

We do live in a world of “haters” – where many have gotten so used to bashing this football program that it will take time – especially when it comes to recruiting.

Whether you believe in this football program or not – the proof is in the wins and losses and truthfully, nothing else really matters at all.

What you do in the off season is certainly what defines your program – and with so many great things transpiring over a seven month period, there are still those who choose not to be aboard, and that has ways of making the job tougher.

Just because Diaz arrived with confidence and enthusiasm does not mean a thing to those who have lived with over-hyped promises and coaches who came into town with agendas that have failed miserably.

You have to face reality and understand that Miami is like no other program in the country. While the fan support is opinionated and sometimes over-the-top, it is nowhere what it is at other schools across the country.

You can blame it on no campus stadium or other things, but the “U” is the “U” and game crowds have never been good – even when they owned college football.

This has always been an event city, and while huge games against FSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and other national powers will peg the meter, other games are lucky to draw 35,000, but that is something that people have gotten used to.

Take a look at many of the traditional programs, and whether Alabama is playing rival Auburn or Southeastern Louisiana, the crowds are huge and ultra supportive. It will never be that way in Miami. Never was in the past 70 years and will never be moving forward.

This week’s meeting with Central Michigan and head coach Jim McEwain will be another average draw – and instead of dwelling on it – just roll with the punches and support the program like they have for decades.

BREAKING DOWN THE GAME

Speaking of Coach McElwain’s Chippewas, they come into Hard Rock Stadium for a 4:00 kickoff ready to go. They do not match up with the 1-2 Hurricanes, but have enough athletes to make this game entertaining for a bit.

They were wiped off the field against Top 10 power Wisconsin, but so have the Hurricanes in their last two meetings with the Badgers.

In wins against Albany and Mid American foe Akron, the 30 point underdogs showed they have athletes and are more than capable of testing a Miami defense that has stood up in all three games.

Running the ball will be a key. They didn’t do well against the Badgers, and truly shouldn’t fair well against the ‘Canes, but in the past, Miami has found a way to let an under-achieving team like the Chippewas make a few plays.

Maybe last week’s game against Bethune Cookman, where Miami’s team speed certainly took over, will be an indication that things will not be that easy.

Miami’s offense, which clicked a week ago, has the chance to do much of the same – although Central Michigan is better than the Wildcats were, and should be able to come up with a few plays to keep this game from getting out of hand too early.

Miami has started slow in each of its three games, and on Saturday, they are looking to change that and completely own the first quarter.

Wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton, a former Virginia Tech player, leads Central Michigan with 18 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

CMU uses Pimpleton in creative ways to make sure he gets the ball in space to best utilize his speed and quickness in the open field.

The other top receiver threat in the middle of the field will be tight end Tony Poljan, who at 6-feet-7 and 255 pounds has the type of athleticism that needs to be respected at that size. Poljan has caught ten passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.

In general, the inside receivers have produced against Miami’s 2019 defense. It is time for the Hurricanes to do a better job of limiting that production.

WHO MIAMI NEEDS TO STEP UP?

The last few weeks, we gave you five players to watch – and while many of those players continue to come through, there is still room for improvement.

This week, we will give you 5 more who need to continue to elevate their game – and this week would be a great time to do it:

Bubba Baxa, PK. Picked things up and with bigger games ahead, there should be no more excuses.

Jakai Clark, OL. Still learning and needs a huge game.

Brian Hightower, WR. He is open a lot, but fans want to see the production. Quality player.

Will Mallory, TE. They need to continue to target the big guy and get him fully involved.

Jeff Thomas, WR. Made a few catches, but need more out of this star player.

FLORIDA CONNECTION

While the Chippewas are stacked with Michigan and Midwest players, we will take a look at the handful of players from Florida that are on the roster:

Norman Anderson, WR, Neptune Beach Fletcher

Vashon Bailey, OL, Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy

Monte Braswell, DB, Avon Park

Jaques Bristol, DL, Sarasota Booker

Brian Edwards, S, Miramar. Was a University of Miami target early on. This is a very gifted football prospect that has much to prove.

Javon Gantt, WR, Jacksonville Westside

Demarcus Governor, DB, Plant City Durant

Oakley Lavallii, FB, West Boca Raton

Daniel Richardson, QB, Miami Carol City. One of the most productive quarterbacks in the history of south Florida. Will wait his chance to showcase his many skills. A four year high school starter for the Chiefs and Booker T. Washington, where he won a state title.

Romello Tarver, OL, West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy

Cameron Vaughn, OL, Haines City

Don’t Forget To Check Out Hurricane Hotline each Tuesday evening from 6-8 on 560 THE JOE – WQAM with “The Voice Hurricane Sports” Joe Zagacki and UM legend Don Bailey Jr. https://player.radio.com/listen/station/560-wqam-sports-radio