No. 16 Miami anticipates tough game at Arkansas State
Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson knows the reality of the situation his Red Wolves face when they host No. 16 Miami on Saturday at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Ark.
"We have to play a perfect game to beat them," he said. "We know that. But we are capable of doing that."
Anderson's Red Wolves are coming off a 43-36 loss at Nebraska in their opener, a score that caught the attention of Miami coach Mark Richt.
"Nebraska is one of the great venues in America," Richt said. "I was born in Omaha and grew up a Nebraska fan and know what kind of fans they have there and the kind of crowds they have. It has to be an exciting environment.
"Now we're playing in their home. I'm sure they'll be excited about that."
Miami comes into the game off a 41-13 victory over Bethune-Cookman in its opener. The Hurricanes rushed for 317 yards with junior running back Mark Walton rushing for 148 in a little over two quarters. His backup, sophomore Travis Homer, ran for 103 yards.
Junior quarterback Malik Rosier was 17 of 28 passing for 217 yards and three touchdowns as the Hurricanes compiled 550 yards of total offense to Bethune-Cookman's 350.
Miami was without sophomore receiver Ahmmon Richards, who set a freshman receiving record with 934 yards on 49 receptions last season, as he has been nursing a hamstring injury that could keep him out of the second week.
But receivers Darrell Langham, Lawrence Cager and Braxton Berrios all had touchdown receptions as the Hurricanes didn't seem to skip a beat.
To overcome that, Anderson said his Red Wolves are hoping to catch the Hurricanes on a day "where maybe they're not at their best, maybe a day they're looking forward to their next opponent. I don't know. Whatever it takes. We'll take whatever advantage they give us. We hope that's enough.
"It's really going to be about us, concentrating on us, not concentrating on defending everything Miami can do 'cause we can't do that. That's not possible. We don't have that many bodies. We can't match up. So let's concentrate on what we can do."
What the Red Wolves showed they could do in their effort against Nebraska was pass the football. Second-year starter Justice Hansen was 46 of 68 for 415 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Wide receivers Chris Murray and Kendrick Edwards, a transfer from Arkansas, combined for 190 yards on 17 receptions.
Considering that Bethune-Cookman quarterback Larry Brihm did enjoy some success, throwing for 229 yards against the Hurricanes, it's an encouraging sign for the Red Wolves.
"Five different receivers caught at least five balls, so it's kind of hard to figure out who to try to cover," Richt said of Arkansas State.
One statistic from last week does stand out in favor of the Hurricanes. Miami rushed for 317 yards in its game while Arkansas State gave up 225 rushing yards. Richt doesn't give that much credibility, however.
"I think it's always good to watch tape and have respect for who you play," he said, "and as a coach, not have to make up a story as to why they didn't play good or why we should respect them.
"We don't have to say a word. We just watch the film, and it speaks for itself."
Outside factors could come into play.
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on South Florida, the game might be threatened, or the storm could factor into travel plans and even practice schedules for the Hurricanes. Miami was weighing all options early in the week.
This is nothing new for the Hurricanes. They went through a similar situation last year and have rescheduled games because of hurricane threats in the past.
Even Richt had to go through something similar when he was playing for the Hurricanes under Howard Schnellenberger from 1978-82.
"There was a hurricane that went through and we all evacuated, as players," Richt said. "I went in-state somewhere -- I think I stayed with a teammate that was in Orlando or something like that. I'm not exactly sure."
The Hurricanes then were called back and were already practicing by the time Richt returned to Coral Gables.
"It was like, 'Hey, get your gear on and get out there.' Everyone kind of showed up intermittently and we practiced," he said. "I think the storm maybe turned, but we still got a lot of weather."
Updated September 5, 2017