MIAMI - Greetings and salutatins football fans! It's good to have you here on Run and Shoot, as we're about to share one of the most unique experiences in college football; a night game at the Orange Bowl, as the Hurricanes welcome the Aggies of Texas A&M.
While the stadium and the team have seen better days, there's nothing quite like night games here. With the lovely skyline behind the east endzone, and a light breeze swirling in from that side, games here at night just always seem to have a little extra pizzazz. That's definitely something this team will miss with the move to Dolphin Stadium next year. The sunset over the Everglades is gorgeous, the humidity has given way, and it's exactly what Miami football should feel like.
But, the stadium doesn't play a snap for either team, so I'll stop blabbering about it and get to the breakdown. Shall we?
This is a match-up of two very similar teams. Teams who have the talent, but have always been tabbed as underperformers over the years. Some say A&M Head Coach Dennis Franchione's seat may be warming, as the Aggies are perrenially good, but not great. A prime-time non-conference win would go a long way in soothing the fan base.
For the 'Canes, it's a very odd time. Head Coach Randy Shannon will be at the helm for his fourth game tonight, hoping to keep Miami away from another 2-2 start. Shannon's position is completely opposite from Franchione's; new job, lowered expectations, and promise for the future. Fans are waiting for the big, "we're back," kind of win, a la UCLA in 1998.
Will it come tonight? Not if A&M's backfield has anything to do with it. The dynamic duo of Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane have returned this year, and the dual threat of Stephen McGee's arm and legs will prove tricky for a Miami defense looking to recapture their magic.
Miami not without a thunder and lightning combination of its own, with sophomore Javarris James and freshman Graig Cooper bring electricity to the running game not seen at Miami since Frank Gore left for the pros. Ever since Cooper's first game against Marshall, where he ran for more than 100 yards, he's been the talk of the town.
The QB situation is Miami's prevailing weakness, as Kyle Wright will take the snaps, returning to his starting position after losing his job to junior Kirby Freeman coming out of camp. Freeman's completion percentage was near 40 percent during his time, and Wright quickly took his spot back. His performance has been marginally better, highlighted by an 80-yard pass play to Lance Leggett last week against FIU, adding some sparkle to an otherwise lackluster performance.
Despite being the favorite, Miami faces an uphill battle (they got three points from Vegas for playing at home; it's a pick-'em). If they want to win, they have to lock down in the secondary, rush using the tandem, and make some kind of magic through the air. If they don't, the Aggies will head back to College Station with a very valuable W.
Stay tuned for more updates and observations as they develop. Welcome to the OB, baby!