On September 5, Miami will open its 2015 season by hosting the Presbyterian Blue Hose, a FCS team from the Big South Conference and went 6-5 in 2014, which included drubbings against Northern Illinois (55-3), NC State (42-0), and Ole Miss (48-0) in its only games against FBS opponents.
Seventh-year head coach Harold Nichols, however, earned Big South Co-Coach of the Year honors in 2014 as the Blue Hose had their first winning season since 2007 and finished 5-2 against FCS teams, including wins over #12 Furman and #22 Charleston Southern.
Boasting a rushing attack that gained 174 yards per game last season, Presbyterian lost leading rusher Demarcus Rouse to graduation in the offseason but the Blue Hose's attack out of pistol and wishbone sets will be in the capable hands of the 6'1", 200-pound redshirt sophomore Darrell Bridges and 5'10", 190-pound redshirt junior Blake Roberts. Bridges had 85 rushes for 401 yards and two touchdowns while Roberts carried the ball 82 times for 385 yards and three touchdowns.
The passing game, however, leaves a lot to be desired as 2014 quarterbacks threw for 137 yards per game, six touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Redshirt senior Kaleb Griffin is presumed to be the starter for the 2015 campaign as he saw action in nine games last season, throwing for 172 yards and an interception on 33 attempts. Fellow redshirt senior Tamyn Garrick will be looking to compete for the starting job in fall camp.
The receiving corps for the Blue Hose isn't exactly setting the world ablaze either as it is returning 14 receptions and two touchdowns from 2014. 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior Daryl Wilson leads the pack with nine receptions, 158 yards, and the two touchdowns while also rushing for 31 yards on six carries. Hayden Sanders, the 6'4", 200-pound redshirt freshman, looks to be a big weapon for Presbyterian in 2015 due to his size. Tight ends were an afterthought in the offense last season as the unit only registered one catch.
The defense, while allowing almost 25 points per game in 2014, has some playmakers, especially in the secondary where seven interceptions were made. Six-foot, 185-pound senior Ed Britt is the best of the group with three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and 72 total tackles. Redshirt senior linebacker Donelle Williams is looking to build off of last season where he had 81 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
A defense that had 23 sacks a season ago is returning some pass rushers in 2015 with three linemen responsible for 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, with redshirt junior Ugonna Akoh (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) recording 4.5 sacks and 6'3", 230-pound junior Khari Rosier registering 9.5 tackles for loss.
Special teams is not a strength for Presbyterian as redshirt senior punter Stephen Doar averaged 38.1 yards on 67 punts with only three punts going for 50 yards or more. 5'9" 151-pound sophomore kicker Brandon Morrow went 2/5 on field goals last season with 31 yards being his longest make while he went 17/19 on PATs.
As far as the season opener goes, if Miami is able to contain the running game and can get the Blue Hose behind early, it'll be in great shape to open the season with a W. If the RedHawks can only do one (or neither) of these things, they could very well be looking at their second straight loss to an FCS opponent.