Last Saturday Miami Hurricanes’ fans breathed a collective sigh of relief at Hard Rock Stadium, as the ‘Canes ended a dismal four game losing streak to defeat Pittsburgh 51-28.
Miami appeared to break many bad habits developed throughout their four game losing streak, led by career highs from Brad Kaaya and Ahmmon Richards. On the defense the ‘Canes also held their own despite little depth at several key positions, putting forth another noteworthy performance.
“We are knocking against great,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said after practice Wednesday. “We are right up against it and that is what you show them coming in after every game. There is just a couple of mistakes, there are a couple of drives here and there that if we can really tighten up those things, we can be really hard to move the ball against.”
Moving the ball against Miami has been a challenge for opposing offenses this season, with the ‘Canes ranking near the top of the nation in tackles for loss. These type of stats are encouraging a defensive improvement, and prove many of Miami’s freshman are playing well.
Players such as Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Zack McCloud, Joseph Jackson, and Malek Young are all playing a large number of snaps for Miami, and their impact stretches beyond the field.
Mark Richt has developed a large amount of momentum in recruiting this offseason, and has pitched the opportunity to play early as a freshman. Miami has gained several defensive recruits such as Amari Carter and DJ Johnson with that pitch, and if the ‘Canes are indeed “knocking against great”, the momentum must continue.
Bowl projections such as a potential matchup against Florida should energize Miami to keep their focus, but in order to keep that dream a reality they must not overlook the road ahead.
The ‘Canes will visit a rebuilding Virginia team under first year Bronco Mendenhall this Saturday, and will close the season with tough matchups against NC State and Duke.
All three matchups are expected victories for Miami, but if they slip in even one of those games, a 7-5 season is in the works.
Although Miami is still mathematically alive, the ACC Coastal seems to be a long shot right now for the Hurricanes, as they try to beat the Cavaliers for the second straight season.
“We don’t like losing no matter what the scenario is,” tight end David Njoku said after practice today. “Each game from here on out we are going to work hard and win. I guess it’s exciting to, at this point, reach and acknowledge our goals.”
In order to acknowledge the ultimate goal of improving their record last season; however, Miami must not get complacent and win their remaining three games.
“We don’t ever want to be satisfied with good,” Diaz said. “That is a curse in college football because there is a lot of good teams, there’s not many great teams.”