It’s been a long time since Alabama has lost a season opener.
20 years if you want to be exact.
It’s also been an even longer time since Miami defeated Alabama in any capacity. But if there was any version of the team head coach Manny Diaz would prefer to lead its season off in what appears to be the height of the Nick Saban dynasty, its this one.
Coming off of a national championship win in 2020, the Crimson Tide are tasked to replace its quarterback, leading receiver, leading rusher along with three offensive linemen. In other words, it’s the most vulnerable they’ll appear to be all season, and since the Hurricanes return 19 starters from a year ago, there won’t be much worry about searching for chemistry on either side of the football.
Nonetheless, Miami can’t simply show up and beat Alabama straight up.
Few teams if any have been able to do it.
But there are few areas Miami must excel in if it wants any chance of slaying the giant.
1. Pressure Bryce Young early and often
There’s been a ton of hype and excitement surrounding Young for over two years now as he finally makes his Crimson Tide debut. Miami’s goal should be to not allow the talented quarterback to get settled into the game. Diaz should dial up multiple blitzes to confuse Young into making a mistake and try and bring him down for negative gains. Alabama’s offense has proven to be too explosive if the quarterback is given appropriate time, so taking those precious seconds away will be a major factor.
2. Efficiency from D’Eriq King
King was dominant at numerous points a season ago for Miami, and they’ll need every inch of what he brings to the table today. Standing behind an experienced offensive line, King will need to utilize both his arm and legs to chip away at this Alabama defense. In the past the key to taking out the Crimson Tide has been a special day from a dual-threat quarterback, and Miami hopes to have one of those days with King.
3. Win the line of scrimmage
It may sound boring, but the battle of the big men will be one of the most intriguing aspects of today’s game. Miami’s offensive line has a combined 190 starts while Alabama’s defensive line has been described as being 7-9 players deep. Not only will the Hurricane’s need to win that battle, but on the defensive side, it’s front has a number of new faces looking to put it together. Luckily for them, the Crimson Tide are still looking to shape its offensive line with competition still being underway at multiple positions. It’ll be a race to see which team figures out its situation first in that regard.
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77