MIAMI GARDENS (AP) — Miami is probably going to beat Bethune-Cookman with ease, as would be expected when a team with Atlantic Coast Conference title aspirations plays against an FBS opponent.
That being said, the Hurricanes wouldn't mind getting into some trouble.
No. 18 Miami opens Year 2 of the Mark Richt era on Saturday against the lower-division Wildcats, with Malik Rosier taking over for Brad Kaaya at quarterback for the Hurricanes. And if Rosier sees some things he isn't exactly ready for, Miami thinks that might be beneficial.
"It's time to play against somebody who has bad intentions towards you, quite frankly," Richt said. "The quarterbacks have not been tackled. They will get tackled. They'll get tackled, whether it's a sack or a quarterback run or scramble or whatever it may be. He has to be prepared for that, too. I think there will be enough adversity in this game, especially for him."
Rosier won the job over Evan Shirreffs, while freshmen N'Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon are expected — for now, anyway — to be in developmental roles. And it didn't take long for Miami legends like Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta and longtime NFL standout running back Edgerrin James to hit Rosier up with congratulatory messages.
"Means the world to me," Rosier said.
Rosier won't have two of Kaaya's top targets from 2016; tight end David Njoku is in the NFL, and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards is "very unlikely" to play with a hamstring issue.
For Bethune-Cookman, the game is more than a nice payday and chance for the team's Florida-dominated roster to play against one of the state's big-time programs — it's also a chance to see a speed that's probably unlike anything the Wildcats will face the rest of the season.
"For myself, it's a great opportunity to get a chance to play an FBS opponent again to start the season," Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims said. "And I think it's great for all of our guys. We have a number of guys from down south; I think it's a homecoming game for those guys."
And although Miami has a defense that expects to be among the nation's best, the Wildcats have some confidence.
"They're pretty good at what they do," Bethune-Cookman wide receiver Frank Brown said. "But we are too, on offense. And we're going to compete. We're going to find the open players and get the open players the ball."
Here's some of what to know going into this matchup:
FOR OPENERS: Miami also opened against Bethune-Cookman in 2015, then Florida A&M last year. Game 1s for Miami will get more difficult going forward; the next four are LSU in 2018, Florida in 2019, Temple in 2020 and Alabama in 2021. LSU (Arlington, Texas), Florida (Orlando) and Alabama (Atlanta) will all be neutral-site games, and the Hurricanes will host Temple.
WALTON WATCH: Miami RB Mark Walton enters this season with 23 rushing touchdowns in 26 career games. He needs 13 TDs this season to pass Stephen McGuire for the Hurricanes' record on the ground, and he's scored in each of his two previous season-openers. Walton is also 422 yards shy of becoming the 10th 2,000-yard rusher in Miami history.
SCOUTING BETHUNE: The Wildcats were banged up from the outset last season, with 16 starters hurt by Week 4. This year, they enter with health. Bethune-Cookman gets RB Michael Jones back for the first time since 2015, and will look — as usual — to be very up-tempo on offense with former All-MEAC quarterback Allen Suber now in place as the Wildcats' offensive coordinator.
SEEKING RECORD: Miami is looking to win its 11th consecutive home opener, which would tie a school record. The only other stretch where Miami won 11 consecutive home openers was from 1986 through 1996.
NO PINCKNEY: The Hurricanes will be without LB Michael Pinckney until the second half. Pinckney was ejected for targeting in the second half of last season's Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia, and the mandated suspension carries over to the following season. So Pinckney will have to watch the first half from the locker room.
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