Playing Down To Their Competition Once Again, Miami’s Slow Starts Caught Up With Them
Pittsburgh, PA — On a gloomy Friday afternoon, the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes (10-1) came out sluggish and couldn’t recover. Canes quarterback Malik Rosier was inaccurate to say the least, as he’s been all season on the road. Miami’s defense registered two turnovers, resulting in zero points. And the Pittsburgh Panthers (5-7) controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball
Miami has been in close games all year long. But Friday on the road, the Canes did not have their fastball, and they paid for it with a loss. With season lows in yards per game (232), points per game (14), rush yards per game (45), and time of possession (23:30).
“I know the guys are hurt. I know I’m hurt — our coaching staff, everybody associated with our program, I’m sure, is hurt by it,” said Miami head coach, Mark Richt. “But that’s football, that’s life. The good news is, we’re about to play for the ACC championship here in seven or eight days. We gotta get rested up, get a good plan and get ready to play that one.”
The Hurricanes still have a great chance to make the College Football Playoff. With the ACC Championship Game set two weeks ago, Miami plays No. 3 Clemson next week in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It will be interesting to see exactly where the CFP Committee ranks the Canes, after criticism of playing down to their competition and not having a good win on the road.
Almost no one will give Miami a shot at beating Clemson next week in a de facto home game for the Tigers. They don’t need it, it’ll be primetime, and they’ll be the underdog; right where they want to be.
Rosier Inconsistent on the Road, Again
Rosier, completing 56.4 percent of his passes, hasn’t been as accurate as Miami would like him to be this season. The redshirt junior is even worse on the road, coming into Friday’s matchup with a 46.4 completion percentage.
Friday, Rosier was sporadic as he went 15-34 for 187 yards and one touchdown. Rosier missed throws low and quite a few throws high, overthrowing several Miami receivers.
Rosier was ineffective, Miami head coach Mark Richt benched him with 9:53 in the fourth quarter, down two scores in favor of back up quarterback Evan Shirreffs. However, that was only for a series as Pitt scored on the ensuing drive.
If Miami wants plans on beating Clemson, Rosier must work on his accuracy.
Run Game Abandoned
The Hurricanes didn’t run the ball very well against the Panthers. In part, because they didn’t try very hard. Coming into Friday’s matchup, the Canes averaged 36 rushes over their last three games, but only ran the ball 23 times against Pitt.
The game was close, Rosier was not himself, and Miami was stagnant as a unit. Richt, who doubles as the play caller, just abandoned the run game.
Miami running back Travis Homer only had seven attempts, while Rosier was the leading rusher with 12 attempts for 31 yards. Rosier should never lead the Hurricanes in rushing; he isn’t a run-first quarterback.
The Hurricanes aren’t built to be one-dimensional. If the Canes cannot establish a run game going forward, they’ll suffer the same fate as the Pitt loss going against stiffer competition.
Defense Good, Could Be Better
The Hurricanes’ defense played well but should expect more from themselves playing a freshmen quarterback in his fourth career game. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett wasn’t stellar but did enough to get the job done with 193 yards passing, no interceptions, two total touchdowns.
The turnover chain did make two appearances; however, the Canes could not score any points once they got the ball. Miami had a chance at three more turnovers but couldn’t make the necessary plays.
At times the Canes couldn’t stop the Panthers, especially on Pitt’s last touchdown drive that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown run by Pickett on fourth down, putting the game out of reach.
The Canes have some work to do with Kelly Bryant and the Clemson Tigers looming next week