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Miami Hurricanes Matchup Preview: Pittsburgh Panthers

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami goes on the road for the 1st time since week two to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. We all know what happened here two years ago as #2 Miami was upset 24-14 in one of the shockers of the season. That game feels like 20 years ago with all that has transpired for the Canes. Miami comes in to this week’s matchup reeling off a tough 28-21 overtime loss at the hands of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Pittsburgh has won 4 straight games and sits in 2nd place in the ACC Coastal with a 2-1 record.

Can We Block Them?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Ohio at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This could be the question every week for Miami, simply can you block the guy opposite you? Miami played much better in the offensive line vs Georgia Tech, but that may have been more of a product of who the opponent was. In strolls Pitt with 36 sacks on the season led by Jaylen Twyman who has 7 sacks on the year. One thing we know about Pat Narduzzi is he loves to challenge an offense by playing press coverage and bringing more that you can block. Communication must be key for the Canes, and after hearing Brett Romberg and Bryant McKinnie this week, it’s clear that Miami needs to communicate better on the O-Line. If Miami can protect plays will be available down the field.

Who Are The Playmakers?

Bethune-Cookman v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jeff Thomas will once again be suspended for Miami so the Canes will be without one of their more explosive pieces on the outside. Thomas is 3rd in the team with 24 catches for 270 yards and 2 TDs, so someone like Mark Pope will need to fill the void. DeeJay Dallas also had to leave last Saturday’s game due to injury, and Cam’Ron Harris stepped up with 18 carries and 136 yards in relief. Harris will have to play a big role if Dallas is unable to play on Saturday afternoon.

Filling In, but Still Red

Florida International v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Michael Pinckney went out hurt as well vs the Jackets, and many of us were wondering who #34 was. Walk-On Ryan Ragone played 31 snaps in relief of 56, but this week longtime starter Zach McCloud will play as a starter alongside Shaquille Quarterman. McCloud will not burn his redshirt though by playing in his 4th game, thanks to new NCAA rules. He adds a leadership aspect that the Canes could sorely use in a defense that has underachieved for stretches of the season. Pitt will try to use ball control on offense, so Miami can use McCloud’s run stopping abilities to make the Panthers one dimensional.

Miami needs a win in the worst way! It has been a rough week for the Canes so if they can win a few matchups, Pitt is a beatable team, and the Canes could gather some momentum going to Tallahassee. See you at noon on Saturday.