With two straight tough home ACC losses against North Carolina and rival Florida State, the Miami Hurricanes will now turn their attention to host their final non-conference game of the season against Central Florida.
This will mark the first meeting between the two schools.
Since 1991, the Canes are 14-1 in their first meetings with schools.
“It’s our first time playing Central Florida,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “Every game is dangerous with us right now. We’re coming off two home losses. They won 10 games last year, and they’re doing a great job.”
Last week, the Hurricanes (2-3, 0-2 ACC) rallied in the second half only to fall to Florida State in the final minutes, 41-39. True freshman Travis Benjamin accounted for 274 all-purpose yards against the Noles.
“It hurts. It hurts bad,” quarterback Robert Marve said. “The North Carolina game we thought was a wrap. The Florida State game everything went our way [in the second half], but we fell short. It’s life. You keep going.”
So the Hurricanes are moving forward with the Knights (2-3, 1-1) who are coming off a home win against SMU, 31-17.
The Hurricanes yet again have to deal with another mobile quarterback in Michael Greco. But this week, the Canes defense should be ready. They must make Greco pay in the pass and in the run game.
“The quarterbacks are nifty guys, nifty runners,” Shannon said.
In the past week Miami has lost three key starters for a majority of the year. Offensive lineman Reggie Youngblood, linebacker Colin McCarthy and Eric Moncur are all done for a significant amount of time.
Redshirt freshman Adewale Ojomo and true freshman Marcus Robinson will have to step up in Moncur’s absence.
Linebacker Sean Spence will continue to start with McCarthy out, and look for freshmen Arthur Brown and Jordan Futch to see more playing time.
Injuries and rough losses have plagued Miami so far in the early season. Still Miami has faith they can turn the season around.
“[We] play for pride,” Marve said. “That’s how I see it. We have games still left. The reason we all play this game is for pride. We’re going to keep playing, keep at it.”
The offensive line really has to get after this week to open holes for running back Graig Cooper and, should he play, Javarris James.
The Knights rushing defense is 26th overall nationally, led by leading tackler Jason Venson.
“Our run game has to get going, take some pressure off those young receivers and the quarterback,” Shannon said.
Wide receiver Aldarius Johnson has been coming on strong as of lately. Last week Johnson had five catches for 55 yards. Look for more balls to be thrown toward Johnson, due to his ability to shake tackles.
Despite the fact that UCF is not FSU or UF, do not expect the Canes to overlook them.
“They’re a good team,” said Marve. “We’re going to go out there and really be ready to play ball. They’re going to have players ready to play and come in pumped up.”
Looking for a chance to get his team back to .500, Shannon knows his team must concentrate on UCF.
“For us, the players know now not to take Central Florida lightly,” Shannon said. “Our guys will be focused.”