The Miami Hurricanes begin their ACC slate on the road with a primetime matchup against the Louisville Cardinals. Both teams are coming off double-digit wins against their non-conference opponents and look to get their first ACC win. There is a contrast in playing styles but both teams will look to be led by their explosive quarterbacks. Louisville’s offense is one of the only teams in the country to return a 1500 yard running back in Javian Hawkins. The big-play ability doesn’t just stop with Hawkins, TuTu Atwell returns with 1200 yards receiving.
Conversely, Miami is still searching for their offensive identity but look to have found their bread and butter. Against UAB last Thursday, the Hurricanes were able to roll up 337 rushing yards. Four different players averaged six yards per carry. Junior running back Cam Harris, rushed for a team-best 134 yards and two touchdowns. The Hurricanes also have a mental edge having defeated Louisville soundly last season by over three scores.
King Or Cunningham
Miami has shown that it will be consistent with establishing the running game while Scott Satterfield is known for his outside-zone running scheme. As important as running the ball will be, the quarterback who makes the most plays will put his team in the best position. Malik Cunningham is coming off of a strong performance last week throwing for over 300 passing yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for another on the ground. He will face a much better Hurricanes defense but has the home-field advantage of being at Papa John’s stadium.
In his first start as a quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes, D’Eriq King looked okay. While he did not light up the stat sheet, he played very poised and commanded the offense. His ability to escape pressure was seen rather quickly as he ran away from defenders rushing for over 80 yards on scrambles. He also extended his NCAA streak of 16 straight games with a rushing and passing touchdown in the same game. Against UAB, he missed a few downfield throws on some long passes but will look to improve that against the Cardinals. In the third quarter, Miami’s offense seemed to gain a rhythm and King began finding tight end Brevin Jordan more often. Others to keep an eye on are receivers Mike Harley and Dee Wiggins, both had big games against the Cardinals last season.
This matchup doesn’t have the usual flare it would have as a primetime matchup. Louisville won’t be able to max out capacity due to COVID restrictions. However, this still will be the first true road test for the Hurricanes that are in year one of a new offense. Finding their niche as they go will be key. Although the Hurricanes put up over 50 points versus Louisville last season, that performance proved to be an outlier. Miami’s defense will have to prove it can stop the zone scheme and force Cunningham to beat the ‘Canes through the air.
Coincidentally, this will be the third time that Manny Diaz faces off against Satterfield since he’s been at Miami. In his first season in 2016 leading the defense, Diaz held Satterfield’s offense at Appalachian State to ten points. Last season again the defense caused confusion and chaos. I believe that trend remains and Diaz pulls out another victory over Satterfield.