Almost two decades ago, Butch Davis served as head coach for the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. His 11-1 ‘canes had finished the 2000 season, their most successful season in years, ranked #2 in the country with a thrilling win over top-ranked FSU coached by Bobby Bowden (with current canes head coach Mark Richt as offensive coordinator) and a win over the #7 ranked Florida Gators coached by the old head ball coach Steve Spurrier. The players that came out of that Miami program were among the best to ever play college football and the NFL.
Now Davis, 66, and his rebuilding FIU Panthers football team (2-1) are facing off Saturday against the #21-ranked Hurricanes (2-1) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
FIU is coming off a 63-24 thrashing over UMass football, with a solid offensive performance by Junior Running back Shawndarrius Phillips (16 car, 117 yds, 2 TD), Junior QB James Morgan (16-23, 207 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT) and 536 total yards for the offense. FIU seems to be headed in the right direction under Davis, with last year’s record ending in 8-5 including a visit to a bowl game.
The Miami Hurricanes are coming off a few easy wins over Savannah St. and Toledo. Their 33-17 loss at the beginning of the season versus LSU exposed the Hurricanes’ vulnerabilities including problems on offense which FIU may leverage to their advantage.
During a segment of the Butch Davis Show a few days before the game, Davis commented on his success at Miami developing players.
“A lot of it is the assessment of their athletic ability. If they literally have only one chance to make it on your football program, it’s unlikely that they potentially will… I’ll talk about a guy like Ed Reed. When you watch Ed Reed, he played in the secondary, he played wide receiver, he played quarterback… I’ve had a lot of guys that play a lot of different positions and then they play a lot of different other sports, and when you get a chance to eval a kid playing basketball, maybe they’re a high school wrestler and you can see the balance and upper body strength, and you go, ‘you know what, if he’s willing to make an adjustment from the position… Dan Morgan is one. Dan Morgan was a 3-year running back in high school in Broward County, came down and just had an unbelievable instincts like running backs do to find open areas, that’s where the running backs go, well that’s where linebackers need to be, and obviously he ended up becoming a Butkus Award winner and a First-Round draft choice and played many years so you’re always looking for guys that have got a lot of different abilities.”
Butch Davis is one of the top minds in college football among active coaches. One of his greatest skills lies in identifying undervalued players and helping them develop into star performers. FIU has several players (listed below) that may pose a threat to Miami. If FIU plays error-free and wins the turnover game, it may have a chance to hang in the game for at least three quarters. The game against Miami will prove to be a challenge to the young FIU players developing into their positions as Coach Mark Richt will prepare the Canes to run FIU over defensively. Both teams will play for bragging rights for the best team in Miami-Dade County.
Coaches will make good conduct a priority after the 2006 brawl made headlines.
FIU Players to watch:
Rocky Jacques-Louis, LB, 6-3,205,Fr.,Fort Myers, Fla. / Dunbar
Olin Cushion III, DB 5-8, 176 Jr, Miami, FL / Central
KEYS TO THE GAME
Don’t Let Miami Get Big Plays
Don’t turn the ball over
Control Line of Scrimmage & Clock
Build early lead
Use your playmakers
POLL: Who will win the Battle for Miami?
— Sweetwater Post (@sweetwaterpost) September 22, 2018
Can’t wait to be back at home on Saturday!
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) September 18, 2018
— FIU Football (@FIUFootball) September 20, 2018
Butch Davis Show September 17, 2018
Mark Richt Show September 20, 2018
FIU – UM Preview