Previewing Miami Football with Miami beat writer Luke Chaney

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Photo Credit goes to the University of Miami Athletics 

After a disappointing loss that put a bad taste in the mouth of all Southern Miss fans, the Golden Eagles will be traveling down south to Miami Gardens to take on the No. 15 ranked Miami Hurricanes in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

The Golden Eagles are coming off of a 29-27 loss in four overtimes to the Liberty Flames, while Miami is coming off a 70-13 beatdown versus Bethune-Cookman.

I sat down with Miami football beat writer Luke Chaney of The Miami Hurricane and All Hurricane to discuss and preview this matchup.

 

Q: What do Miami fans think of Southern Miss, what do they know about Southern Miss, and how do they view them?

Luke: “I would say that the Miami fans’ knowledge of Southern Miss is definitely centered around Frank Gore Jr. He grew up in Miami, went and played at Killian High School, which is one of the more well-known programs down here in south Florida. Obviously, Frank Gore is a legend pretty much everywhere in the football community, but more so in Miami given that he played at UM. Frank Gore Jr. definitely piques the interest of a lot of Miami fans, but I would say the average Miami fan doesn’t know a lot about Southern Miss.”

Q: Miami just came off a beatdown of Bethune Cookman 70-13. What can Southern Miss fans expect from Miami’s offense?

Luke: “Miami runs a very balanced offense. [The] new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis was the Broyles Award winner last year at Michigan, [he’s a] very experienced play-caller, runs a multiple offense [that’s] schematically, very diverse….Gattis really loves the run game.

[There are] two or three guys I would look out for in that run game, one being Jaylan Knighton, Miami’s leading rusher last season. He did not play in week one due to a soft tissue issue.

Thaddius Franklin Jr. is a big six-one 240 back, he has a basketball background just, and [he’s] an absolute bulldozer. Henry Parrish Jr., an Ole Miss transfer, had a very good game against Bethune-Cookman with three rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.

But of course, the main player on Miami that everyone focuses on is Tyler Van Dyke, a Heisman candidate [and] someone who could potentially be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see if Miami opens the passing attack a little more against a better opponent like Southern Miss.”

Q: Last year, Southern Miss faced Bryce Young in Tuscaloosa, who won the Heisman, and now this year, they face another Heisman candidate in Van Dyke. I don’t know how likely he will win the Heisman, but he will be the best QB the Golden Eagles will face this season, so just talk about him some more. 

Luke: “Yeah so if I were to describe his traits at QB, it would probably be his ball placement, especially his deep ball placement. It is beautiful to watch, he excels throwing the ball down the field. He excels in the intermediate game as well. Expect Van Dyke, if Gattis allows him to do so, to just air the ball downfield. He takes chances, he takes risks. [He has a] big arm- it’s an absolute cannon. He does a pretty good job of getting out of the pocket scrambling for some gains.”

Q: Moving to the other side of the ball, what are some names Southern Miss fans should be aware of on the Hurricane defense?

Luke: “Mario Cristobal mentioned that they like going six, seven deep across both the inside line and the edges. It’s a line by committee. The starters don’t really matter. They rotate a lot. There’s a lot of talent on that line just given that was completely done over at the positions in the offseason. It’s a very deep defensive line.

A couple of notable players out there: Akheem Messidor, the West Virginia transfer, plays both inside and on the edge but starts at the edge. He had a sack and a past deflection in week one…he’s one of the more proven talents on that defensive line. Darrell Jackson Jr. is just a freak of nature, physically and athletically. He is 6-6 300 pounds and super lean, and he’s just a dude at linebacker, which I would say is the weakest unit for Miami. They added Caleb Johnson, a UCLA transfer, in the offseason [and] he’s gonna play a lot of Mike. A weak side linebacker you have some experience with is Keontra Smith and Waynmon Steed, Jr, but the unit as a whole is still kind of a work in progress.

The safeties are definitely the highlight. They’re led by a sophomore trio of James Williams, Avantae Williams, and Kamren Kinchens, [who are] all three very talented players who will play starter-like reps throughout any game. Tyreke Stephenson, who came to Miami before the 2021 season, is the number one corner. [He’s] very physical, can play near the tackle box…he’s just a very versatile player at cornerback.”

Q: I don’t know how much you know about the Super Back offense, but what do you think about Miami possibly seeing Frank Gore Jr. take most of the snaps on Saturday? 

Luke: “[It’s] definitely a look Miami hasn’t seen much. I guess the last time Miami saw a healthy dose of the wildcat was back in 2019 when running back Cam Akers [played] for Florida State, that offense coordinator for FSU loved using him in the wildcat. As far as a consistent thing in the offense, Miami has never seen something like that, but I’m sure they’ll be preparing a lot for that this week.”

Q: Southern Miss is a heavy underdog. What do they have to do to have even a shot at winning this game?

Luke: “I think that pressure needs to be created on Tyler Van Dyke. For Southern Miss to make the score close and potentially pull off an upset, they will definitely have to create some pressure. Another area where they could find success is over the middle of the field because their linebackers are not that great. If they can find success [there] get pressure, and Frank Gore Jr. can really get going, then they can definitely make it close and potentially pull off an upset.” 

Here is a look at USM’s depth chart heading into the matchup.

You can follow Luke on Twitter and read his work for The Miami Hurricane and All Hurricane. Southern Miss takes on Miami at 11 AM CT on Saturday morning. The game will be broadcasted on ACCN.