Will the run defense show improvement? As far as the statistics go, the Miami rush defense is off to its worst three-game start since 1995. Sure they’ll play Bethune-Cookman this Saturday, but as Sean Spence pointed out while speaking with reporters on Tuesday, they have several South Florida players on the roster capable of making some big plays. Swallow any signs of improvement with a grain of salt, but be pleased nonetheless.
Will the tight ends make more of an impact in the passing game? Chase Ford had a 33-yard reception on the final drive last weekend that put Miami in the red zone against Kansas State, but other than that the tight ends have been very quiet this year. Quarterback Jacory Harris noted that the tight ends are used in the offense and they’ve been trying to get the tight ends involved, but opposing linebackers have done a good job of covering them. Head coach Al Golden even thanked reporters “for continuing to bring up the lack of production from the team’s tight ends,” according to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. There’s talent at the position, will we see it translate into greater production on the field?
How much does Lamar Miller play? Miller is expected to play this Saturday, but he hurt his shoulder in the loss to Kansas State and didn’t get any carries on the final drive because “he was too banged up,” according to coach Golden. Reports from practice were that he was spotted wearing a yellow no-contact jersey on Tuesday. Still, he’s listed as the starter and we should expect to see him on Saturday. Eduardo Clements is expected to see some carries.
How much does Seantrel Henderson play? Henderson underwent back surgery in August and seems ready to get back on the field about a month and a half after his procedure. His return should be a boon to the tackle position that suddenly appears very deep with Henderson coming back, Malcolm Bunche no longer on the injury report, and Brandon Washington good to go after injuring his knee against Kansas State (he returned shortly after the injury occurred). At his press conference Tuesday Golden said he thinks Henderson could go for about 20 plays.
Can the ‘Canes build confidence going into the tough three-game stretch? It’s easy to be down after a 1-2 start with losses to two unranked teams, but Miami had an opportunity to win both games, and if things get cleaned up Miami could make a run for the ACC Coastal division title. Building confidence going into the meeting with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg is important. It’s a good opportunity for a team-defining win, but Miami has to go into the game with a confident mindset believing that they will be successful. They face North Carolina in Chapel Hill the following week, and then come home to face Georgia Tech the week after.