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Miami Hurricanes continue to show growth in new system

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Miami’s attacking defense offers support to run-based offense

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

After two games, it is clear that Miami head coach Mark Richt will be relying heavily on the running game this season. Which makes sense, since the tailback position probably has the best talent and depth of the entire team.

The offense took a step back, which is understandable since they dropped 70 points in the opener, but throughout the first half the offense looked in disarray. After going 7 for 11 on third-down against FAMU, Miami went 4 for 11 against a slightly more competitive FAU team. Miami’s quarterback Brad Kaaya had a rough first half, throwing two interceptions and only completing 9 of 20 passes. Kaaya has yet to hit his stride after two games, but ‘Canes fans should not be hitting the panic button just yet. Although it was not pretty, Kaaya performed better in the second half completing 8 of 11 passes. Going forward, I expect the passing game to improve, because Kaaya is too good to play like he did in the first half again.

Let's see how this game was different from last year's matchup.

vs. FAU CMP ATT PCT YDS Y/A TD INT RATE
2015 21 32 65.6 287 9.0 1 0 151.3
2016 17 31 54,8 191 6.2 0 2 93.7

The defense performed well again allowing less than 50 yards rushing for the second straight week. Freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney had a stellar night, leading the team in tackles (9) and causing havoc in the backfield. Although the ‘Canes are only two games into the season, it is clear that the philosophy change on defense is for the better. A year ago, FAU rushed for over 200 yards against a read and react Miami defense. It is early, but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has put his players in the position succeed, which in itself is an upgrade.

In this table, you can see the improvements made by the Miami defense from a year ago.

vs. FAU OPP RUSH YDS OPP PASS YDS Opp Total Yds TFL SK INT FF
2015 223 166 389 3 2 2 2
2016 47 167 214 13 7 1 0

Overall, it is refreshing to see that although the offense struggled at times, the defense was there for support. If this team continues to be as stingy as this on defense and the passing game becomes efficient again, I truly think this Hurricanes team can finally make it to the ACC Championship Game.