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Matchup of the Week: UNC Edition

The Canes are coming off their first loss of the season to rival FSU, and will certainly need to bounce back with a strong performance to knock off their Coastal Division foe.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

*Sigh*....Everything feels so somber following the loss to FSU. Morale obviously isn’t as high, expectations don’t seem to be as high, and the hype has certainly died down for the Canes. HOWEVER, THERE IS STILL PLENTY OF FOOTBALL TO BE PLAYED!

Miami has only played five of their 12 regular season games and, as many people probably expected, are at a place where they were probably projected to me, maybe slightly higher. There are plenty winnable games left for the Canes, most of them they are most likely going to be favorites. Never do I want to jump to conclusions, but the Canes are still in great position to run the table and win the Coastal.

The Canes now sit at 4-1 (1-1 ACC) and are set to take on UNC (4-2, 2-1) at Hard Rock Stadium at 3:30 on ESPN/ABC. That aforementioned Coastal Division crown first goes through UNC. The Tar Heels are coming off a rather embarrassing loss to No. 17 Virginia Tech 34-3 in Chapel Hill. Not make excuses for the Heels, but the conditions were DREADFUL as they were basically playing IN Hurricane Matthew. UNC has a very dynamic, efficient, and explosive offense that is far better than their showing last week. Star QB Mitch Trubisky was unable to get anything going through the air and their leading rusher, SO back Elijah Hood, was not playing due to a concussion. Forewarning, expect a MUCH different UNC team on Saturday.

I try not to bring up bad memories, but let’s look at the last time these teams played (NSFW):

Pathetic...I’m just mad I can’t COMPLETELY blame Golden for that loss. One thing I can promise, that won’t happen again under this new regime. Blowouts happen, and UNC was clearly the better team last season, but 52-7 at one point? No. That’s just lack of preparation and execution on the Hurricanes’ staff’s part.

Pass Rush/Defense vs. Mitch Trubisky

FSU was the first dose of a lethal and effective pass offense Miami has seen all year. I personally didn’t think Miami did too poorly against the pass, but you can see that’s probably the biggest weakness in Manny Diaz’s aggressive defense.

One quick note: I was made aware that someone said Diaz should be fired...whoever that was, block me back.

Anyway, plays like Cook’s long touchdown reception and Whitfield’s swing pass for a TD were total blown calls and coverages by the defense. Anyone with basic football knowledge saw those plays coming from a mile away.

The good thing is that Miami won’t have to worry about Dalvin Cook in the backfield (ever again) and defending the pass as well this week. Hood is a very good back, but he pales in comparison after facing Cook the week prior. This may allow the Canes to focus less on the run and more on the pass, which is where UNC is special.

QB Mitch Trubisky has waited two seasons behind former Tar Heel Marquis Williams to get his chance to start, and boy, has he taken advantage of it. Trubisky has only thrown for 1,769 yards for 13 touchdowns an just two interceptions. All while completing 70 percent of his passes. Oh...and he beat FSU...on the road. Miami will most likely get that Trubisky and not the one from last week’s embarrassment.

What’s important to watch for for the Canes is its pass rush, IMO. The Canes have been good thus far are pressuring the QB, getting hits behind the line of scrimmage and creating havoc. Trubisky is sneaky athletic (LOL) and can move the pocket and create plays for himself if need be. But his trade is moving the ball through the air and carving up a team’s secondary. And in case you forgot, Miami will be without safety Jamal Carter for the first half of this game because of an EGREGIOUSLY TERRIBLE AWFUL STUPID targeting call he got in the second half of the FSU game. While Miami frequently plays with three safeties on the field (Jenkins, Carter and Johnson), the Canes will be forced to either go into their safety rotation or corner rotation. It will be important to watch how Miami handles this situation, because they were faced with this same situation last season at Cincinnati, where they were without Deon Bush and Jamal Carter for the first half and lost....smh. That was in the old defense...but still.

For Miami to win this game, they must play like they do not have a hangover. Games after losses to FSU have been UGLY for Miami in recent years, so it will be interesting to watch how a young group responds after suffering their first devastating defeat to the Noles.

It will also be interesting to see how Miami plays with a string of injuries suffered last week. They will be without starting RT Sunny Odogwu, who broke his ankle and is out indefinitely, DT Gerald Willis is out after suffering a knee injury, and WR Stacy Coley, LB Shaquille Quarterman and DE Chad Thomas will all play, but will be nursing nagging injuries that occurred last week.

The Canes are favored to win, but I’m remaining cautiously optimistic about this game. UNC is no slouch, and they are a very good football team. Miami has to take advantage of theit physicality and aggression, and keep the ball AWAY from the Heels’ offense. Miami SHOULD walk away with a victory, but it will not come easy.

Miami 35-UNC 31