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Miami’s magic numbers for a win against Florida

If the Hurricanes can achieve these statistics, they will be victorious in Orlando

NCAA Football: Savannah State at Miami
Miami Hurricanes defensive back Trajan Bandy (2) celebrates with the turnover chain after recovering a fumble by Savannah State last season. The Hurricanes’ magic number for turnovers forced against the Florida Gators is two or more.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

While a game’s statistics never tell the entire story, they can go a long way in helping to explain a team’s successes or failures.

The Miami Hurricanes excelled on the defensive side of the box score last season but failed too many times to hit offensive statistical benchmarks.

As the Hurricanes prepare to take on the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday at 7pm, several statistical measurements that the Hurricanes must hit stick out.

What must Miami do to beat Florida? Achieving the below magic numbers will go a long way in helping the Hurricanes start the 2019 season 1-0.

Passing Yards

Magic number: 225.

Miami facts: The Hurricanes passing offense was nothing to write home about last season. Miami needs that to change under new offensive coordinator Dan Enos. Miami eclipsed the 200-yard passing mark just five times in 2018 and only made it past the magic number in wins over FIU and Savannah State and the season-opening loss to LSU. There were four times last season that Miami did not pass for over 125 yards in a game.

Florida facts: Florida gave up more than 225 yards passing six times last season but never allowed an opponent to pass more than 250 yards. Florida was 4-2 in games it allowed 225 yards passing or more and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete over 70 percent of their passes in those two losses.

Analysis: Jarren Williams will need to get the aerial attack going for Miami to win this game. He has enough weapons at wide receiver and tight end he just needs to stay calm and deliver the ball to his playmakers in his first start with the Hurricanes.

Rushing Yards

Magic number: 175.

Miami facts: When Miami ran the ball well last season, it won games. The Hurricanes averaged just under 264 yards rushing per game in their seven victories last season while averaging just over 128 yards rushing per game in their five losses in 2018. Offensive success starts with establishing the running game for Miami.

Florida facts: When Florida lost last season, it was largely because it failed to stop the run. Kentucky rushed for 303 yards in its victory over Florida in 2018 and in total, the Gators allowed an average of just under 238 rushing yards per game in their three losses. Florida did not allow an FBS opponent to eclipse 200 yards rushing in a victory last season.

Analysis: Establishing control of the line of scrimmage will be huge for Miami’s offense in setting up the running game. If Miami can run the ball consistently with DeeJay Dallas and Cam’ron Harris, Florida will be forced to put more defenders in the box and that will create space for Miami’s wide receivers and tight ends outside.

Turnovers Committed

Magic number: No more than one.

Miami facts: Miami threw 14 interceptions in 2018 (Malik Rosier threw eight, N’Kosi Perry threw six) and lost 12 fumbles as well. That comes out to an average of exactly two turnovers per game. Miami had 10 games with two or more turnovers in 2018.

Florida facts: Florida forced just two turnovers combined in its three losses last season. For comparison sake, the Gators averaged forcing 2.4 turnovers per game in their 10 victories.

Analysis: Miami cannot put its defense in a disadvantageous position by turning the ball over to Florida more than once. The Hurricanes are too thin at linebacker and in the secondary to put the defense in too many sudden change situations on short rest. Williams and company must take care of the ball on offense and limit the turnovers.

Third Down Conversion Percentage

Magic number: 53% (8-for-15) or better.

Miami facts: This was an achilles heel of the Miami offense under Mark Richt. Miami converted just 41 percent of its third down opportunities in 2018 and even during a much more successful campaign in 2017, converted only a measly 29 percent of third downs. This number has to improve under Enos. Miami achieved the magic number or better three times in 2018, in wins over Savannah State and FIU and a loss to Georgia Tech.

Florida facts: In Florida’s three losses in 2018, all of those opponents converted 61 percent or higher of their third downs against the Gators. In victories last season, Florida only allowed one of its ten opponents to convert more than 50 percent of third down opportunities.

Analysis: Miami must keep its offense on the field converting third downs for a multitude of reasons: point-scoring opportunities, field position and the opportunity to give its defense elongated rest. Converting over 50 percent of third downs will give Miami the opportunity to put its imprint on the time of possession battle and tire out the Florida defense.

Tackles For a Loss

Magic number: 10.

Miami facts: In Miami’s six losses last year, the Hurricanes averaged 7.75 tackles for a loss per game, including a season-low five in their loss to Duke. In Miami’s seven wins, the Hurricanes averaged 12.5 tackles per loss per game and never had a win with less than 9.5.

Florida facts: Florida’s offensive line limited tackles for a loss in 2018. No Florida opponent had more than eight tackles for a loss in a game against the Gators and even in Florida’s three losses, those opponents only averaged 3.3 tackles for a loss in those games.

Analysis: While Florida’s accomplishments preventing tackles for loss in 2018 was impressive, this is largely a new group of Gator offensive lineman as the unit returns just one starter from the 2018 team. Miami must attack Florida at the line of scrimmage and get tackles for a loss on early down running plays and sack Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks on passing downs.

Turnovers Forced

Magic number: 2 or more.

Miami facts: The Hurricanes wore the Turnover Chain 25 times in 2018 and had five games where they forced their opponent into two or more turnovers. Every Hurricane fan knows the importance of forcing turnovers to this defense and the energy that it brings the sideline and fans in the stands. Miami was 4-1 in the five games it forced two or more turnovers last year with the only loss coming to Virginia in Charlottesville.

Florida facts: Florida committed just 14 turnovers in 13 games during the 2018 season. The Gators had three games in which they committed two or more turnovers and went 1-2 in those games with the only win coming over SEC bottom dweller Vanderbilt.

Analysis: Being aggressive and forcing turnovers is in Miami’s defensive DNA. The Hurricanes most do this on Saturday at least twice to demoralize the Gator offense and give the Hurricane offense good field position to score.

Rushing Yards Allowed

Magic number: 150 or less.

Miami facts: Opponents averaged just over 143 yards rushing per game against Miami in 2018. Miami held four opponents, including fellow ACC teams Florida State and Pittsburgh, to 70 yards rushing or less and went 4-0 in those games. The Hurricanes worst performance of the season came in the Pinstripe Bowl against Wisconsin when the Badgers rushed for 333 yards.

Florida facts: The Gators rushed for 200 or more yards in nine of their 13 games last season. In their three losses, they averaged just 137 rushing yards per game. The Gators rushed for 367 yards in a win over South Carolina last season and eclipsed the 250-yard rushing mark in their final two games against Florida State and Michigan.

Analysis: Stopping Florida’s running game will put the Gators in 3rd-and-long situations and force Franks into lower percentage throws. This is essential for Miami’s defense and will help Miami’s offense have better field position to score.

Passing Yards Allowed

Magic number: 170 or less.

Miami facts: The Hurricanes allowed just 135.6 yards passing per game in 2018, which ranked No.1 in the nation by over 12 yards per game. Miami only allowed three opponents to pass more than 200 yards last season and held four opponents under 100 yards passing.

Florida facts: Feleipe Franks averaged just 189 passing yards per game in 2018. Other than passing for 399 yards as a team against Idaho, Florida did not have a game where it passed for more than 284 yards as a team. In its three losses last season, averaged just over 182 passing yards per game.

Analysis: If Miami can adequately replace graduated safeties Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson, it should be able to at least control Florida’s passing attack. Miami’s aggressive scheme makes it very difficult for opposing passers to get comfortable and Franks isn't entering this game with the pedigree of an elite passer.


Which magic number do you think Miami is most likely to achieve?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Passing Yards
    (35 votes)
  • 12%
    Rushing Yards
    (39 votes)
  • 7%
    Turnovers Committed
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    Third Down Percentage
    (12 votes)
  • 25%
    Tackles For a Loss
    (77 votes)
  • 23%
    Turnovers Forced
    (72 votes)
  • 8%
    Rushing Yards Allowed
    (26 votes)
  • 7%
    Passing Yards Allowed
    (22 votes)
306 votes total Vote Now