The Miami Hurricanes look to establish a strong foundation for the upcoming season starting Thursday against Charleston Southern at Dolphin Stadium.
This will mark the first time the two schools meet.
“You can’t take them lightly,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “You got to make sure you’re doing things solid on defense and solid on offense.”
The Hurricanes are coming off a disappointing season during which the team finished 5-7 and missed out on their first bowl game since 1997. And, Miami got shut out in the final home game at the Orange Bowl by Virginia.
The Orange Bowl was the home of the Hurricanes since 1937. Now it’s time for the Canes to adopt new stomping grounds at Dolphin Stadium.
“We have to keep building the foundation,” Shannon said. “The expectations are always high here at Miami. This team believes in what we’re doing and has a lot of confidence in what we’re doing.”
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers finished the 2007 season with a 5-6 record and didn’t qualify for the Division I-AA playoffs.
Quarterback Robert Marve has been suspended for the Charleston Southern game due to minor legal issues stemming from an incident last fall. True freshman Jacory Harris will begin the season as starting quarterback.
Likewise, the Buccaneers lack experience at the quarterback position. Due to the lack of experience and the average offseason display of Charleston Southern’s two quarterbacks, the team will be starting Clemson transfer Tribble Reese.
Miami’s running game was a strong point in 2007 and all signs show that this unit will be the strength once again. Javarris James and Graig Cooper will be relied on heavily to take pressure off of the young quarterback core.
One player that has been turning heads during fall practice is freshman receiver Travis Benjamin. During fall testing, Benjamin ran the fastest ever 40-yard dash for a freshman, clocking in at 4.26 seconds.
“That guy is blazing,” defensive back DeMarcus Van Dyke said. “If you let that guy get one step one-on-one, it’s touchdown.”
Said Shannon: “He’s making plays when he touches the football, so that’s very exciting. The more he does that, the better off we’ll be as an offense.”
Bill Young, who led a surprising Kansas team to a shocking Orange Bowl victory over ACC foe Virginia Tech, takes the reins as defensive coordinator. A year after Young lead Kansas to a top-15 defense, Miami players trust his ability to lead their defense.
“They really like his enthusiasm,” Shannon said. “They feel comfortable with him. Those guys are excited to play for him”
The Miami defensive backs will face the Charleston Southern duo of wide receivers, Dee Brown and Markus Murry. Look for cornerbacks Chavez Grant, Bruce Johnson, Van Dyke and freshman Brandon Harris to halt the spread offense of the Buccaneers.
The Canes must establish a good defensive line rotation to keep bodies fresh and constantly have plenty of pressure on the quarterback.
The Miami Hurricanes seem poised to take a step in the right direction.
“Right now we’re a very confident team,” Harris said. “We really think we’re ready for whoever comes on Aug. 28.”