Overall record: 2-0
Offensive yards per play (27th): 6.70
Defensive yards per play (23rd): 4.14
Turnover margin (T-1st): plus-6
Penalty yards per game (T-37th): 47.0
Sagarin strength of schedule: 32nd
Al Golden (30-22 at Miami): Patience seems to be running thin as Miami fans yearn for a return to the program’s days among the sport’s elite. A win over Nebraska could temporarily alleviate outside pressure, though the momentum won’t last long if the Hurricanes flop in conference play as they did last year. It wasn’t long ago that Golden, a New Jersey native who played tight end at Penn State in the early ’90s, emerged as a hot name. He led Temple to its first bowl appearance in 30 years in 2009 and then took over at Miami two seasons later.
Coordinator: James Coley
The Hurricanes altered their offense during the offseason, hoping to add more pace and space to their methods of attack. There are still pro-style elements in Coley’s philosophy, but the quarterback has almost exclusively lined up in the shotgun or the pistol formation so far. More cutback chances in the open field for running backs. More quick throws and sideline-to-sideline concepts in the pass game. Nebraska caught a glimpse of this approach in its game against the Hurricanes last year, when then-freshman Kaaya threw the ball 42 times and got sacked twice (despite having an eventual third-round NFL draft pick at running back in Duke Johnson). Miami is working to replace Johnson, tight end Clive Walford, speedster Phillip Dorsett and three-fifths of its starting offensive line.
Coordinator: Mark D’Onofrio
It’s technically a 3-4 base scheme. Mostly. Miami does at times utilize four-man fronts, and the alignment will occasionally suggest a 4-3 look even if the personnel group doesn’t. That gives the Hurricanes a foundation to disguise some complex strategies up front, though they’ve seemed relatively simplistic early this season against two overmatched opponents. They haven’t tackled particularly well. There have been issues lining up correctly before the snap and then fulfilling their responsibilities afterward, but it’s an active and athletic group. Miami’s strength is on the back end, where it returns skill and experience. Defensive backs Artie Burns and Rayshawn Jenkins both already have two interceptions.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Joseph Yearby Running back: Quarterback Brad Kaaya is the most important cog in Miami’s offensive attack. Yearby may be the X-factor, though. He’s a 5-foot-9, 202-pound playmaker who brings enough strength to confidently power through rush lanes up the middle, but can he run through tackle attempts or bounce a run outside to break away for big chunks of yardage? That’ll be a key for the Hurricanes. He totaled 243 all-purpose yards against Florida Atlantic last weekend. Yearby does have a capable backup in freshman Mark Walton, so he should stay fresh.
THEY SAID IT
“Confidence. I think that’s No. 1. The second thing is preparation. He’s had a full year to really digest things. Routine is the other thing. The first year, you’re finding a routine. The second year, you settle. You’re settled in a routine.” — Coley on Kaaya’s areas of improvement since playing Nebraska last season
“No one ever does the same thing against us that they’ve done the previous weeks. It’s never the same. So we’re going to prepare for him like he’s going to run, like he did against us last year.” — senior safety Dallas Crawford on NU quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who rushed for 96 yards against Miami in 2014
15: Kaaya’s streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. It’s the third-longest such streak in program history. Ken Dorsey had streaks of 23 and 17.
7: The Hurricanes have already recorded seven sacks in two games. They averaged about two per game last year. Against Nebraska, they didn’t even record a tackle for loss.
25.0: That’s Miami’s third-down conversion percentage in 2015. Six successful tries in 24 attempts. The Hurricanes ranked 95th nationally last year with a third-down rate of 36.8 percent.
Sept. 5 vs. Beth.-Cookman
Sept. 11 at Florida Atlantic
Sept. 19 vs. Nebraska
Oct. 1 at Cincinnati
Oct. 10 at Florida State
Oct. 17 vs. Virginia Tech
Oct. 24 vs. Clemson
Oct. 31 at Duke
Nov. 7 vs. Virginia
Nov. 14 at North Carolina
Nov. 21 vs. Georgia Tech
Nov. 27 at Pittsburgh