University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes brace for pass-crazy Cincinnati offense

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore (8) throws a pass against Alabama A&M at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Sept. 5, 2015.
Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore (8) throws a pass against Alabama A&M at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Sept. 5, 2015. AP

Hold on tight.

Here comes an old-fashioned shootout, NCAA style, in Ohio’s wild, wild Southwest.

The Cincinnati Bearcats, wearing all black Thursday night for their nationally televised matchup with the Miami Hurricanes, will have “RUCKUS” written on the backs of their helmets – the UC in red letters.

The Bearcats already created quite a ruckus at Memphis last Thursday when redshirt freshman quarterback Hayden Moore replaced veteran Gunner Kiel, who was rushed to the hospital after injuring his shoulder and neck during a nasty collision.

In a bit more than three quarters, Moore set a UC record with 557 passing yards, and his Bearcats set a school record with 752 yards of offense — and lost.

Needless to say, UC coach Tommy Tuberville — a former UM defensive assistant from 1986 through 1993 — wasn’t too pleased. Tuberville barred his players from talking to the media before facing the Hurricanes. UC (2-2) said it was because of the shortened week.

“There were some good things, but there’s never anything good about losing,” Tuberville said at his press conference Tuesday. “We broke a few records. Records don’t mean anything about winning. Bottom line. … it goes in the loss column.”

You can’t let them have time to throw the ball and get vertical. They have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things with the ball after the catch. We can’t be in a situation where we’re tired.

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The Canes, who are 24th nationally in passing yards allowed and have the No. 29 passing offense behind quarterback Brad Kaaya, haven’t entered that column yet. They are 3-0 for the first time since starting 7-0 in 2013. A win Thursday could get them their first Top-25 ranking since that year, which wouldn’t mean much with consecutive games against the Seminoles, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Duke on the October horizon.

UM gained 621 yards in a 55-34 home win against Cincinnati last season and is coming off a Sept. 19 overtime victory against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers scored 23 consecutive fourth-quarter points before Michael Badgley kicked his 28-yard winner.

Miami lost backup weak-side linebacker Marques Gayot, now in a neck brace, indefinitely when he was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center last Wednesday after a collision during practice. Coach Al Golden said weak-side starter Jermaine Grace, who injured his shoulder and head against Nebraska, will play Thursday. The Hurricanes said they’re well aware of Cincinnati’s prolific offense — the Bearcats ran 100 plays at Memphis.

“They can sling it,’’ said strong-side linebacker Tyriq McCord, who also has been practicing at weak-side. “It’s not a secret. They’re going to throw it around. People just have to be ready for their opportunity. If, God forbid, I get tired, my backup has to be ready. It’s going to be a long game.’’

Golden said it’s crucial that Miami disrupts the Cincinnati passing game – second in the nation with a 412.5-yard-per-game average. That will be considerably more difficult with safeties Deon Bush and Jamal Carter suspended the first half for targeting against Nebraska.

“You can’t let them have time to throw the ball and get vertical,” Golden said. “They have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things with the ball after the catch. We can’t be in a situation where we’re tired.”

As productive as the Bearcats are in the passing game, they’re deficient defensively — 76th in rushing defense (172.8-yards-per-game allowed) and 73th in total defense (390).

Even worse: Cincinnati ranks 127th in turnover margin. The Canes are No. 2.

“We are dead last in turning the ball over,” Tuberville said. “That’s embarrassing. And if they had a category for missing tackles, we’d be dead last in that, too. The mistakes have been just horrendous.”

The Hurricanes said they’re neither looking ahead to Florida State nor worrying about trying to keep pace with the Bearcats’ offense.

“We’re just doing our thing and executing the game plan that Coach Coley and Coach Golden laid out for us,’’ receiver Herb Waters said. “We’ve got playmakers all around.’’

Added Waters: “I’m not trying to sound cocky, but when we do find that consistency in every quarter, it’s going to be trouble for a lot of people.’’

Perhaps the Bearcats are feeling similarly.

“I’m still amazed,” Tuberville said of Moore, when asked how “a kid comes in cold” and throws for 557 yards. “We broke nine school records. I can’t give you an answer on that.

“He’s not one of those worried about making mistakes. He threw the heck out of the football. [But] let’s not crown him the next Johnny Unitas.

“Will he do it again? I hope. But the odds aren’t very good because now they’ll play him a little bit different. Everything this week is built around Hayden Moore.”

Thursday: Miami at Cincinnati

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.; Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati.

TV/radio: ESPN; WQAM 560; WURN 1020 (Spanish); WVUM 90.5 FM.

Favorite: Miami by 6 1/2.

Records: Miami 3-0 (0-0 ACC); Cincinnati 2-2 (0-2 AAC).

Series: Miami leads 11-1.

Miami injuries: Out — LB Marques Gayot (neck); WR Stacy Coley (hamstring); LB Darrion Owens (knee); RB Gus Edwards (foot).

Cincinnati injuries: Questionable — WR Chris Moore (leg); WR Johnny Holton, Jr. (leg); RB Mike Boone (ankle). Doubtful — QB Gunner Kiel (head). Out — DB Adrian Witty (ankle).

PROBABLE UM STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

15

Brad Kaaya

So.

DE

47

Ufomba Kamalu

Sr.

RB

2

Joe Yearby

So.

NT

93

Calvin Heurtelou

Sr.

FB

40

Gage Batten

Jr.

DT

92

Courtel Jenkins

So.

WR

6

Herb Waters

Sr.

LB

17

Tyriq McCord

Sr.

WR

11

Rashawn Scott

Sr.

LB

56

Raphael Kirby

Sr.

TE

5

Standish Dobard

Jr.

LB

5

Jermaine Grace

Jr.

LT

73

Trevor Darling

So.

LB

33

Trent Harris

So.

LG

67

Alex Gall

Jr.

CB

3

Tracy Howard

Sr.

C

68

Nick Linder

So.

CB

1

Artie Burns

Jr.

RG

63

Daniel Isadora

Jr.

S

25

Dallas Crawford

Sr.

RT

66

Sunny Odogwu

So.

S

2

Deon Bush

Sr.

PK

15

Michael Badgley

So.

P

16

Justin Vogel

Jr.

PROBABLE CINCINNATI STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

8

Hayden Moore

Fr.

DE

44

Marquise Copeland

Fr.

RB

7

Tion Green

Jr.

DT

96

Cortez Broughton

Fr.

WR

25

Max Morrison

Sr.

DT

99

Alex Pace

Jr.

WR

3

Johnny Holton, Jr.

Sr.

DE

92

Silverberry Mouhon

Sr.

WR

19

Shaq Washington

Sr.

LB

23

Eric Wilson

Jr.

TE

81

DJ Dowdy

Jr.

LB

45

Bryce Jenkinson

Fr.

LT

78

Parker Ehinger

Sr.

LB

5

Mike Tyson

Jr.

LG

65

Idarius Ray

Jr.

CB

9

Leviticus Payne

Sr.

C

59

Deyshawn Bond

Jr.

CB

13

Grant Coleman

Jr.

RG

73

Ryan Leahy

Jr.

S

24

Malik Clements

Fr.

RT

74

Justin Murray

Sr.

S

4

Zach Edwards

Jr.

PK

16

Andrew Gantz

So.

P

26

Sam Geraci

So.

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