|Hurricanes set to open against Charleston Southern|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 27 August 2008 08:45|
Think that means Miami is overlooking its opening night foe?
The Hurricanes insist that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Miami's season begins Thursday night in their new Dolphin Stadium home against Charleston Southern, a Football Championship Subdivision member. It seems like a mismatch of colossal proportions - Miami has five national championships, Charleston Southern has two winning seasons - but the rebuilding Hurricanes know the Buccaneers will arrive believing they have nothing to lose.
``Everyone that we play, for some reason, always has a countdown clock to when they'll play the University of Miami,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said. ``Everyone. It's part of being at Miami. You have a target on you. But you know what? These guys understand on this football team that we went through a lot last year. We understand what losing is and we understand not to take opponents lightly.''
Sure enough, on the Charleston Southern athletic Web site, there's a clock ticking down the seconds until Thursday night's kickoff.
The Buccaneers are touting this game as one of the biggest in their school's history, a chance to shock the college football establishment and earn a piece of spotlight on the national stage. After learning that North Texas - Miami's originally scheduled Week 1 opponent - bought its way out of the game for a chance to visit LSU, Charleston Southern quickly began pleading for the chance to be the replacement.
``We're very grateful to coach Shannon and the University of Miami for giving us this opportunity,'' said Charleston Southern coach Jay Mills. ``Since the moment I arrived on this campus, we've talked about Miami's football program and what they've done in the last 25 years with five national championships and how we hope to emulate that on the FCS level, being another small, private institution that wants to be nationally recognized.''
The game isn't on television (the only Miami game on TV Thursday night will be when Vanderbilt faces Miami of Ohio, which just happens to be Charleston Southern's Week 3 opponent). The TV snub may be proof of how far Miami fell off the national radar a year ago, as it bumbled along to a 5-7 season - the program's worst result in three decades.
So this year, the Hurricanes are starting over.
None of the quarterbacks have any college experience, and when Thursday's game ends, Miami's starter for the 2008 season still won't have any passes on his record.
Redshirt freshman Robert Marve - who will start at No. 5 Florida next weekend - is one of seven Hurricanes who'll serve one-game suspensions for a variety of reasons; Marve's stems from an arrest last Oct. 31 on a misdemeanor charge that was later dropped. Still, Shannon has his rules: Get in trouble after midnight, you sit out the next game you're slated to play.
That means freshman Jacory Harris gets the start.
``Big-time players step up in big-time situations,'' said defensive tackle Marcus Forston, another true freshman who was Harris' teammate at Miami Northwestern High last year, when the Bulls won their second straight Florida Class 6A title. ``And Thursday, we're going to see what he's going to do.''
The Hurricanes will see what a lot of freshmen will do Thursday. There's 14 on the team's two-deep for the matchup.
``If we didn't have all these freshmen on this football team, we'd probably have a one-deep,'' Shannon said. ``It's called recruiting.''
If there's one edge Charleston Southern has, it's experience. The Buccaneers (5-6 last year) have 19 starters back from last year, many of whom got a taste of what it was like to face a big-time opponent when Charleston Southern visited Hawaii last season.
Plus, 41 players on the Bucs' roster hail from Florida, so they'll certainly know plenty about the Hurricanes.
``It's going to be the biggest crowd Charleston Southern athletics has ever played in front of,'' said Charleston Southern senior transfer quarterback Tribble Smith - who was part of a Clemson team that won at Miami in 2004, albeit in a game in which he didn't play. ``It's a huge opportunity and we're all looking forward to it.''