Russell Athletic Bowl Preview: Offensive Matchups

Gene Clemons, FBGP Analyst

West Virginia and Miami could not be any different from an offensive standpoint. While the Mountaineers unleash their “air raid” offense, Miami employs a much more traditional “pro style” game plan. Football Gameplan thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the offenses and determine which side might have the advantage in the Russell Athletics Bowl.

Quarterback – MIAMI: Of course this is the most important position and deserves top billing. Both teams rely heavily on their quarterbacks to make things go and both boast experienced signal callers who have command over their offense. The difference comes down to the pro potential. Kayaa is poised and is accustomed to high pressure games. He’s taken big shots from defenses and has still put his team in the winners circle in a highly competitive ACC. There’s a good chance he looks at the draft climate and decides that one more season under first year Canes coach Mark Richt is good for his professional longevity. This game will serve as his early claim to a spot in the 2017 Heisman trophy race.


Running Back – PUSH: The running back position is a push for both teams. The Mountaineers have depth at the position (four different single game 100-yard rushers) and the Big 12 newcomer of the year Justin Crawford, who rushed for over 1100 yards despite not being inserted as the starter until halfway through the season. The Hurricanes have a talented duo that could both be in the 2017 NFL draft. Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby has been Miami’s explosive 1-2 punch. Both have power and explosiveness, both possess good vision and an ability to catch out the backfield. Both units are going to be really difficult to contain for the opposing defense.


Wide Receiver – PUSH: The Mountaineers have four receivers with over 30 receptions, led by Shelton Gibson and his 900 plus yards and team leading eight touchdowns. Daikiel Shorts Jr. is the elder statesman and as teams focus on him, he facilitated Gibson’s opportunity for targets this season. Shorts Jr. still accounted for over 800 receiving yards and five scores. Miami has explosive Playmakers on the outsides and in the slots. They are paced by a combo of veteran and freshman talents. Senior Stacy Coley has over 700 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s been a big play guy for the Canes all season. Freshman Ahmmon Richards’ 800 plus receiving yards broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record and is primed to be a man amongst boys in the coming seasons. Both units should be hard to handle for opposing defenses.


Tight Ends – MIAMI: The Hurricanes have two tight ends that will play on Sundays. Christopher Herndon IV and David Njoku represent the new age of tight end play where they can both exist split wide, in the slot, or inline. Njoku is the more explosive of the two Canes with 650 yards and seven touchdowns. West Virginia has nothing that looks like them to counter with.


Offensive Line – MIAMI: Miami has a veteran offensive line and will look to manhandled the 3-3 stack defense of West Virginia. An O-line that’s strong up the middle is hard to beat and the Canes have two seniors: center Alex Gall a three-year starter and guard Danny Isidoro, who has manned the interior for 3 seasons. You add in two other 2-year starters, and a young, talented sophomore right tackle in Tyree St. Louis, this offensive line should dominate.

By the looks of our comparison Miami has the edge but fortunately for the Mountaineers these games are played on the field and not in the pages or on a computer screen. It should be interesting to watch the game unfold and join us on Twitter (@geneclemons and @cjflorida9) during the game as we will be live tweeting about who’s winning these battles.

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