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Inside the Numbers: Hurricanes First Half of the Season

Looking at the Numbers That Have Defined Miami’s First Half of the Season

Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

People lie, numbers don’t. At the midpoint in the season, the Miami Hurricanes are 5-1 (4-1 ACC) and ranked 11th in the nation. They also currently stand in sole possession of third place in the ACC, needing help from Clemson and/or Notre Dame to have a shot at the Conference Championship game in December.

However, before they start thinking ACC Championship or which Bowl Game they’ll be competing in, there are a number of numbers that define the Canes progress through the halfway point. Some of which clearly indicate where the Canes need to improve and other solid areas that they must maintain in order for this to be deemed a successful season.

To that end, coming in, this was largely considered a transformational season where Miami needed to take the step out of mediocrity and make the small changes to be a respected program again. Thus, some of the numbers below illustrate areas that were previously a problem area for the U, but they have made great strides. And there are other numbers that point toward potential concerns if the coaching staff and players don’t eradicate the underlying issues soon.

427 - Through six games, Miami has committed 47 penalties for a whopping 427 penalty yards. That works out to an average of 71.17 yards per game on 8.00 penalties per game. The penalties is probably the biggest issue to date as Miami is ranked 88th out of 103 NCAA teams. The Canes are essentially giving up a free 70+ yards per game.

14 - Out of those penalties, I counted 14 penalties that were of the unnecessary roughness/personal foul/unsportsmanlike conduct variety. Those penalties go for 15 yards and have resulted in 4 disqualifications, 2 of which were Amari Carter ejections. After going 13-13 combined over the past two seasons, a big issue was the culture of the Canes. Namely, there were questions as to whether the program was disciplined enough to compete and focus throughout a full season. Now, some of these calls are judgment-based and could go either way. However, if these more flagrant penalties continue to go unresolved or worsen, then things could unravel quickly from a state of the program perspective.

+10.7 - Miami’s point differential per game is looking pretty decent going into the second half. In particular, they stand at fourth overall in the ACC trailing only Clemson (+31.8), Notre Dame (+25.8), and UNC (+12.8). The differential is based 32.8 Points Scored per Game on 413 yards per game and 22.2 Points Allowed per Game.

61.0% - Dual Threat Transfer QB, D’Eriq King, has strung together a nice completion percentage of 61.0%. For QBs, 60.0% is generally considered the barometer between good and bad. King did have his worst performance against the best team in the nation, Clemson, where he had a 42.9% completion percentage. Take away that game and his completion percentage is a more respectable 63.9%. These passes are not all dink passes either as he has impressed on passes of 20+ yards downfield.

100/1 - Speaking of King, his early Heisman bid appears to be dwindling away. He currently has 100/1 odds of winning the Heisman (Alabama’s Mac Jones is currently the favorite at 5/4). Just a month ago on September 28, King had 5/1 odds of claiming the Heisman. King still has good odds to be drafted #1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, as he has the fourth best chances, trailing only Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Penei Sewell.

971 - King has also been a helpful addition in the run game as King, Cam’ron Harris, Don Chaney Jr., and Jaylan Knighton have contributed 971 rushing yards on 209 carries. That is a very solid 4.65 yards per carry.

18* - A scapegoat for some of the offense’s poor play has been dropped passes. The 18 drops figure is a rough estimate but it has been a clear problem area since the beginning of the season. None of the WRs have been reliable on a week-to-week basis, but star TE, Brevin Jordan, has also dropped 3 passes out of his 21 targets. They’ve had a drop in every game and average an estimated 3 drops per game. This is one of those issues that needs to be fixed immediately and looks to have turned a bit of a corner with Mike Harley’s 10 reception/170-yard breakout performance last week.

17 - Staying on the offensive side of the ball, Miami has 17 sacks allowed to date. The Canes’ front line is currently ranked 74th in the nation in this category. However, this is a vast improvement as they allowed an abysmal 51 sacks last season (on pace for roughly 34 for this season). Miami allowed 5 sacks in the Clemson game, which makes up a large portion of their total.

9.33 - Miami has unfortunately struggled in Tackles for Loss per game. They have allowed 9.33 tackles for loss, which ranks 99th out of 103 teams in the nation. Starting the next down behind the line of scrimmage is never good so even though the sacks total appears to have improved, this is an area that needs work.

44% - Even though they may shoot themselves in the foot with penalties, TFL, and dropped passes, the Canes’ offense has been effective on third down. For the season, they have converted 40 third down attempts out of 91, which equates to 44%. This is one of those improvements from last year that is nice to see, as they had a 27% third down efficiency last season.

49 - Even though they’ve struggled in allowing TFL’s on the offensive side of the ball, the Canes have impressed with 49 Tackles for Loss, defensively. DE, Quincy Roche, has played as advertised as he leads the team with 9.5 TFL, followed by Gilbert Frierson at 6.0, Bradley Jennings Jr. at 5.5, Jared Harrison-Hunte at 5.0, Jaelan Phillips at 4.5, and Bubba Bolden at 4.0.

38 - Speaking of Bubba Bolden, the transfer Safety has been impressive to date and leads the team with 38.0 tackles on the season.

97% - Another quality transfer has made a world of difference in the Kicking game. Jose Borregales has converted all 22 of his extra points and is 10 out of 11 on field goals, with the only miss being a blocked FG. The Canes currently have 97% kicking efficiency, which is a marked improvement from last year’s debacle at the position. For reference, Miami’s kicker in 2019, Bubba Baxa, completed 74% of his kicks, and just 50% of his field goals.

57 - In addition, Borregales tied a school record when he nailed a 57-yard FG against Louisville. Even though Miami hasn’t needed any clutch kicks as of yet, Borregales is proving he can do it all. To be fair, however, Borregales already proved he had the clutch gene last year against the Canes, as he converted all three FGs and all three XPs in a one score game.

46.8 - Sticking with special teams, Lou Hedley has also eradicated a punting game that was absolutely atrocious before his arrival. Hedley is averaging 46.8 yards per punt, which ranks fourth in the nation. The number on punter in the nation is averaging 47.7 yards per punt.

3 - Miami’s special teams also has been impressing in a rarely considered segment - blocked kicks. All three of these blocks were in the blowout loss to Clemson, one of which resulted in a scoop and score, but it was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing outing. The three blocked kicks on the season ranks tied for 2nd in the nation.

256.45 - Miami’s composite recruiting score according to 247Sports is also maintaining a breakout season. The Canes 2021 class is ranked 13th in the nation with 22 commits. Led by five-stars DT, Leonard Taylor, and Safety, James Williams, the Canes already have a better score than last year’s class. The key over the next few months before National Signing Day will be limiting de-commits and seeking an extra push to put them in the top ten classes. If the winning continues, the recruits should follow, especially among possible de-commits from other programs. I’m looking at you Jacorey Brooks, Terrence Lewis, and Jake Garcia.

3.4% - Obviously the Canes are not the favorite in the ACC as there is a team called Clemson that is #1 in the nation. And they are not even slated to play in the ACC Championship as Notre Dame currently sits undefeated in second. However, Miami can only work with what is on their schedule and they currently have a 3.4% chance of winning out according to ESPN FPI win probability. Miami’s remaining opponents have an SOS Rank of 54. They have a 67.2% chance to beat NC State, 33.9% chance to beat Virginia Tech, 88.8% chance to beat Georgia Tech, 51.7% chance to beat Wake Forest, and 56.1% chance to beat UNC.

This weekend, Notre Dame and Clemson square off. The most likely scenario is Clemson wins. Notre Dame would then have one loss but has a 71.2% percent or better chance of beating their four remaining opponents, UNC, BC, Syracuse, and Wake Forest. Thus, if Miami wants any chance at the ACC Championship, they will need to control their own destiny and win their final five games. If they want to do so, especially after they barely edged out an unranked UVA, they will need to improve in the areas listed above, including limiting penalties, dropped passes, and tackles for loss.