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MIAMI (SportsDirect Inc.) – Miami (Fla.) quarterback Brad Kaaya looks to pick up where he left off in his standout freshman season when the Hurricanes host Bethune-Cookman to open the season on Saturday.

The 6-foot-4 California native was one of 15 signal callers to throw for 3,000 yards (3,198) a year ago while tossing 26 touchdown passes overall and suffering only three interceptions in his last seven games.

“I think about all the great quarterbacks that came before me,” Kaaya told reporters. “I’m wearing the U right now. I think about that all the time.”

Kaaya, the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2014, will need the players around him to step up if Miami is to improve with his top running back (Duke Johnson) and receiver (Phillip Dorsett) gone.

Hurricanes coach Al Golden, who was 28-22 in his first four seasons, may have a warm seat as the season begins.

Bethune-Cookman, an FCS team that won nine games in 2014 and has plenty of talent back, poses the first test as coach Terry Sims makes his debut.TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: NL

ABOUT MIAMI (2014: 6-7): The Hurricanes suffered a big loss when running back Gus Edwards (foot) was lost for the season, but Joseph Yearby (509 rushing yards) and freshman Mark Walton have the talent to do the job. Four receivers who had at least 20 catches a year ago return – Stacy Coley, Malcolm Lewis, Herb Waters and Braxton Berrios – but Miami needs more production. The Hurricanes have potential to be solid on the other side of the ball and Golden told reporters “this is the deepest we’ve been on the defensive line.”

ABOUT BETHUNE-COOKMAN (2014: 9-3): Sims takes over the helm after spending five years as an assistant and his Wildcats were picked to finish third in the MEAC preseason poll. Quarterback Quentin Williams, a 61.7 percent passer, leads an experienced offensive corps along with running backs Michael D. Jones (730 yards rushing) and Anthony Jordan (579 yards rushing, 12 TDs). Defensive back Marquis Drayton, a MEAC second-team preseason selection, leads a defense that allowed 21 points per game in 2014.

EXTRA POINTS

  1. The Hurricanes have won seven consecutive home openers at Sun Life Stadium and eight straight overall.
  2. Miami LB Jermaine Grace recorded 60 tackles last season, the most of any returning player for the team, to go along with three sacks.
  3. The Hurricanes have won both previous meetings, including a 38-10 triumph in 2012 and a 45-14 victory one year earlier.

 

PREDICTION: Miami 41, Bethune-Cookman 14

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