Five Hurricanes players to look forward to in Week 3

The Miami Hurricanes finally get to play at home for the first time this season after a road game at North Carolina and neutral site showdown with Florida. Saturday’s matchup against Bethune-Cookman of the FCS ranks is the first of five consecutive home games. While the game is expected to result in an anti-climatic blowout win for Miami, here are five players fans should keep an eye on. 

Thunder and Lighting

Through Miami’s first two games, running backs DeeJay Dallas and Cam Harris have combined for 41 carries, 276 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. They call themselves “Thunder and Lighting.”

“He’s Thunder, I’m lightning,” Harris said with a wink.

They have a similar perspective towards running the ball, which bodes well for the offense. Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos emphasized running down hill and both backs have demonstrated the ability to do that. 

“You gotta have that mentality of ‘me vs. you’ in every play,” Dallas said. “When you step in front of me, that’s disrespectful to me because I feel like I’m superior to you.”

Gregory Rousaeau 

Despite starting the season 0-2 for the first time in 40 years, Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Blake Baker likes how his defense has been able to rush the passer.

However, redshirt freshman Gregory Rousaeau stands as the only Miami defensive lineman to have recorded a sack this season. He had to redshirt last season due to injury but has flashed in minimal snaps against Florida and North Carolina. At 6-feet-6 and 255 pounds, Rousseau is a special athlete in his position with length and agility. 

“Sometimes those guys are a little bit stronger and a little less athletic and more like heavy guys who want to just pancake you,” said Rousseau, a Coconut Creek native who missed most of last season with an ankle injury. “It’s really different, but it’s really the same thing because you’ve just got to come off the ball fast, get extension, be physical and just get after it every single play. Just like D-end, just kind of a different spot.”

Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker said Rousaeau will get more snaps in the near future. He’s also earned the respect of his veteran teammates, especially redshirt senior Scott Patchan, who referred to Rousseau as “a gift from God.”

“I think being hurt has allowed him to stick more time and investment in the weight room and he’s definitely benefited a lot from that,” Patchan said. “I mean, he’s leading us in sacks right now.”

Bubba Baxa

Some fans would argue that if it wasn’t for sophomore Bubba Baxa missing the field goal at the end the game, the Hurricanes would have won that game. Obviously there’s more to it but in two games, Baxa is 4-for-7 in field goals and seven points have been the difference between going 2-0 and 0-2, where Hurricanes currently are.

Unlike in the NFL, the Hurricanes can’t simply cut Baxa and bring in the next kicker they can find. There are only two courses of action Miami can take; hand the reigns over to Camden Price or Turner Davidson, or rally around Baxa and hope for the best. Miami head coach Manny Diaz went with the ladder.

“It’s not a thing you get to do it 20 times in a game like you’re shooting free throws. It’s kind of a one-shot deal,” Diaz said. “The only thing he can do and anybody can do is continue to work, continue to trust himself and just fully commit to every kick.”

The main reason behind Diaz sticking with Baxa is his leg power. His kickoffs usually results in touchbacks and he nailed his first 50+ yard field goal attempt against UNC.

“The more he feels us around him and the more he feels our support, and I said this the other day, he’s going to miss a kick again. It’s going to happen. We can’t demand perfection. But like we talk with all our guys, ‘am I improving and am I finding the way to become the best version of myself?’ ”

Jarren Williams

UM quarterback Jarren Williams mentioned before the UNC game that he has improved his pocket presence and it showed with a 30-of-39 performance for 309 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. While many were easy underneath throws, completing more than 75 percent of his passes is still impressive for a freshman starting quarterback. Against Bethune-Cookman the deep ball is the next area in which Williams must show improvement on.

“My deep ball is something I got to work out every day if I want to be efficient in that and that comes with time and building that chemistry,” Williams said after Wednesday’s practice. “That just comes with me working hard all day on Greentree [Practice Fields] and practicing it every day and just getting that timing right and getting a good feel for the deep ball.”

Brevin Jordan

Sophomore tight end Brevin Jordan started the season as the first player on the team to wear the new touchdown rings. Against UNC, he was one of three UM receivers to net over 70 receiving yards. As impressive he as been as a receiver, his contribution to the running game as blocker is something that gives him added value to the offense.

“I mean, I pride myself in blocking,” Jordan said. “I don’t want to be a tight end that’s 6-7 and can just block or a short tight end who just runs routes. I wanted to be a guy that’s versatile and can do it all. That’s the whole point. I want to be an in-line tight end that can block and be a guy that can be put outside and run vertical.”

He’ll have plenty of opportunities to do both against Bethune-Cookman, so what he does he enjoy more? Jordan was asked on Tuesday to compare the feeling he gets from making a great block to making a great catch.

“Truthfully, I like the ball in my hands. I’d rather make a great catch,” Jordan said, “but giving a great block, throwing somebody on the floor and then seeing [running backs Cam’Ron Harris] or DeeJay [Dallas] run past me, I mean, that’s just as good. It doesn’t get better than that.”

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