Miami Escapes Upset Bid, Stays Unbeaten: The Takeaway

The Hurricanes Took Care Of Business On The Road, But Sooner Or Later These Slow Starts Will Hurt Them

Chapel Hill, NC — Miami quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns and the defense forced four turnovers but the Miami Hurricanes (7-0, 5-0 ACC) had a tough time surviving against the North Carolina Tar Heels (1-8, 0-6 ACC).

“A lot of good things happened, but not clean enough for me,” said Miami head coach Mark Richt. “And we’ve got to iron things out and get ready to go for the next one because that’s certainly going to be big.”

Slow starts on offense and the inability to score points off turnovers hold Miami back from attaining elite status in college football.

With the first College Football Playoff Rankings coming out Tuesday it will be interesting to see how the committee views Miami. But whatever the committee thinks for better or for worse, the Hurricanes can cement their status with victories in the coming weeks starting with Virginia Tech and Notre Dame coming to town.

Another Slow Start

PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

Since ACC play started, Miami averaged five points in the first quarter and 13.25 in the first halves. The Canes somehow underachieved Saturday with zero points in the first quarter and seven points going into halftime.

Three and out on their first drive, a missed field goal on their next drive, followed by two more punts before Rosier hit tight end Chris Herndon for a 51-yard score with 1:58 left in the first half.

Last week in the win over Syracuse it was the drops that slowed the offense down. This week was a combination of play-calling and not being able to get the run game going. Miami has to get their slow starts figured out before next Saturday’s matchup vs. Virginia Tech.

No Points Off Turnovers

Miami’s defense is one of the best in the country when it comes to turnovers. However, the offense for the Hurricanes has struggled to score afterward. In the past two games the Hurricanes have registered eight turnovers with only 10 points to show for it.

As the competition steepens the next couple of weeks, the Canes must generate points off turnovers. Of the eight turnovers, Miami has gone three and out on three separate occasions putting the defense right back on the field.

Turnover Chain Party

Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz wanted to incentivize big plays for his defense when they achieved turnovers so ge called Anthony John Machado, Miami’s go-to person for big-time bling. After 900 green and orange sapphire stones, 36 inches if Cuban links, and ten karats of gold the “turnover chain” was born.

PHOTO/CANESFOOTBALL

Miami registered four more turnovers in Saturday’s matchup in Chapel Hill. With eight turnovers in the last two games the Canes defense is peaking at the right time.

A big reason for turnovers is the play of defensive line. They establish their presence at the line of scrimmage and force negative plays. Diaz likes to attack opposing offenses with blitzing on early downs to create obvious passing situations. If the offense cannot find their footing early in games going forward, it’ll be up to the defense to keep the game close.

Rosier Blossoming

Coming off his second straight 300-yard plus passing game, Rosier is starting to show why he won the fall quarterback battle. His completion percentage (56.7%) needs to improve as it contributes to the slow starts Miami has had. However, in the second half of games this season he has been money.

The run game was stagnant on Saturday as Miami ran for 59 yards. Rosier picked up the slack with 356 yards through the air and added three touchdowns. Rosier is gaining confidence in freshman receiver Jeff Thomas, as they hooked up for a long touchdown for the second week in a row.

PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

Richt initially had pause about Rosier being “the guy,” due to Rosier’s gunslinger mentality. But the redshirt junior has done a great job in protecting the ball with 17 touchdowns to four interceptions. With his ability to run the ball when needed Rosier is the total package and Miami will need him to be great in the next two games.

Up Next: Miami will be in primetime when Virginia Tech comes to Hard Rock Stadium.

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