No you won’t see these helmets on Thursday, but I had to put this combo together for the game.
When you don’t play a team for a while, everyone resets to their halcyon days of great success. Even if it has eluded them for a number of years. Don’t get me wrong. Miami is very talented. They have great speed and talent.
At the same time, they haven’t done much with it to this point. They got pantsed by Ohio State. Take away their special teams and their offense was wrecked and the defense was beaten into submission. Ohio State is one of the best teams in the country, so losing wasn’t a shock. I really don’t think that Pitt and Miami are too far apart in this game.
They even have similar problems as this beat writer laid out for Miami after the loss to Ohio State.
Concern No. 1: The running game
Take away Damien Berry’s 42-yard run, and the Hurricanes had 28 carries for 78 yards against the Buckeyes. The rushing attack at halftime: 14 rushes for 28 yards.
Tailback is the team’s deepest position, with Berry, Lamar Miller and Mike James each capable of gaining 100 yards. Miller has shown his big-play ability on special teams but got just three carries Saturday after a team-high 11 for 65 yards and a touchdown in the opener. More touches would help.
The Hurricanes had at least one rushing touchdown in 10 consecutive games before Saturday. The offensive line needs to do a better job creating holes for the bevy of backs.
Concern No. 3: Tackling and lack of turnovers forced
Linebacker Sean Spence had a career-high 11 tackles Saturday. The rest of the defense didn’t fare so well. Shannon said tackling was emphasized all week leading up to Ohio State after several missed tackles in the season opener.
“I told those guys to make sure they tackle the football and get better,” Shannon said. “[Saturday], we didn’t. After the first contact, [the Buckeyes] may have had over 70 yards.”
The defense didn’t wrap up Terrelle Pryor, and it can’t afford that against Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis.
The ‘Canes also didn’t force any turnovers to help offset Harris’ four picks. They’ve yet to force a fumble this season and have just one interception.
The Canes know that Lewis hasn’t been as electric as last season to date, but they know Pitt will still run him.
One thing to worry about, especially with the running game, is that Miami has been very good up front, and while early, lead the country in tackles for loss.
Now if Pitt can put the off-the-field crap behind them and get ready for the game, I think we’d all appreciate it.