No. 8 Miami Survives 93 Plays From Syracuse: The Takeaway

The Hurricanes Stay Unbeaten In Another Close Game At Hard Rock Stadium, Offense Struggles To Find Rhythm

Miami Gardens, FLA — Coming into Saturday’s matchup with the Syracuse Orange (4-4, 2-2 ACC), the Miami Hurricanes (6-0, 4-0 ACC) were a 17.5 point favorite. The Canes knew this would be a 60-minute ball game, with Syracuse defeating then No. 2 Clemson the week prior.

“Part of the reason was Syracuse is a really good football team. We’ve seen what they can do, especially last week with Clemson,” said Miami head coach Mark Richt. “It’s a tribute to what Coach [Dino] Babers is doing over there.”

PHOTO: MIAMI HURRICANES

The Hurricanes are striving to be “back.” But when an unranked team comes to Miami and throws four interceptions in the first half, it should be game over. Due to another lackluster performance from Hurricanes’ offense, the Canes only had a 10 point lead going into halftime. It was a tale of numerous dropped passes, questionable play-calling, and non-existent running game until Miami running back Travis Homer’s 33-yard touchdown, with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter.

“I couldn’t do anything without my line. All props go to them. They gave me a nice hole and all I did was run fast,” Homer said postgame.

If Miami wants to go to their first ACC championship game, they must find a rhythm on offense. Most noteworthy, in the first half; The Canes have averaged 8.7 points in the first half over the past three games (FSU, Georgia Tech, and Syracuse).

Playoff Bound?

At 6-0, everything is on the table for the Hurricanes. Every week the Hurricanes go unbeaten it strengthens their chance to make the College Football Playoff. With every win, Miami inches closer to being “back.”

But first, the Hurricanes have two big-time matchups coming up in November. Virginia Tech, on Nov. 4 will be the de facto ACC Coastal Championship game and Notre Dame the following week will have huge playoff implications in the eyes of the playoff committee.

If Miami takes care of business next week at North Carolina, then navigates through November unscathed, they should hold a top 4 spot in the Playoff going into the ACC Championship game.

Championship Defense

MIAMI DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MANNY DIAZ. PHOTO: MIAMI HURRICANES

The Hurricanes defense played well Saturday afternoon only giving up one touchdown. However, Miami did give up quite a bit of It seems, especially on the ground (264). Had the offense scored more points off their turnovers the game would have been out of hand in the fourth quarter, and Syracuse wouldn’t have made a late run. As result of Miami’s offensive woes, the Orange ran 93 plays and had the Miami defense gassed in the fourth quarter.

“It was challenging,” linebacker Michael Pinckney said of stopping Syracuse. “They were a tempo offense. We tried to simulate it in practice, but it’s pretty hard to do.”

Down 20-6 with 2:51 left in the third quarter, Syracuse scored 13 unanswered points to come within 1 point of Miami. The Canes scored on the ensuing drive making it an eight-point game, 27-19. With the plays piling up and hand on their hips, the defense showed its true colors and stifled the Syracuse offense on their last drive.

Due to injuries, the Canes only dressed four defensive backs on Saturday. However, they need to wash the Turnover Chain due to all the players wearing it. Miami’s defense registered four interceptions in the first half Saturday.

“It brought a lot of excitement,” Hurricanes cornerback Michael Jackson said of the Turnover Chain. Jackson had two interceptions in Saturday’s contest.

HURRICANES DEFENSIVE BACK MICHAEL JACKSON. PHOTO: MIAMI HURRICANES

Offensive Woes

Miami’s offense has been inconsistent the past three games, as noted before. The first halves have been a real struggle to score points. The Canes were even spotted four turnovers in Saturday’s matchup, all in the first half. But with the four turnovers, Miami only generated 13 points in the half.

Canes quarterback Malik Rosier played well with 344 yards and two touchdowns. Had the Hurricanes not dropped over five passes it might have been a career day for the redshirt junior.

Rosier was clutch again when called upon. Up by one point with 5:23 left in the fourth, Rosier guided the Canes to the go-ahead touchdown and an eight-point lead.

HURRICANES QUARTERBACK MALIK ROSIER. PHOTO: MIAMI HURRICANES

Hurricanes receiver Ahmmon Richards returned this week from a nagging hamstring injury. As a result of conditioning, Richards dropped four passes from Rosier, including a touchdown pass on the opening drive, which resulted in a field goal. Richards did, however, have six receptions for 99 yards.

Richt, who serves as the play caller, has to find a groove with the offense. There is too much talent on this roster to put up 8.7 points in the first halves of games.

“Thrilled about the victory,” Richt said. “Just inconsistent effort offensively.”

Side Notes:

  • Seems like Miami and Clemson are on a collision course for the ACC Championship game. This marks the second year in a row that Miami has beaten a team who has beaten Clemson (Pittsburgh last year).
  • The Hurricanes and Dolphins are on the road next week; the field will need much repair and maintenance after the Dolphins host the New York Jets Sunday.
  • Up Next: the Hurricanes travels to North Carolina (1-7, 0-5 ACC)