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Film Preview: Miami at Pitt, 10/30

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The ‘Canes head north to Heinz Field to eat fries and try to upset the Panthers on Halloween weekend.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Miami Hurricanes, fresh off a victory over NC State, will head north on Saturday, October 30th to face the Pitt Panthers. The game is a noon kick off on the ACC Network. The 3-4 ‘Canes look to build on their momentum while Pitt is riding a 6-1 record and is scoring 45.3 points per game.

Miami is going to have to answer a bunch of questions in order to beat the Panthers on Saturday afternoon. Can a Manny Diaz team hit the road and score an upset victory? Can Rhett Lashlee game plan up 40 points of offense? Can the Diaz defense close up the middle of the field? Will a kicking game issue put Miami in a bad spot once again?


The data

The SP+ has Miami ranked 26th overall, and 21st on offense, 37th on defense, and 40th in kicking. Bill Connelly’s metric has the Panthers as 9th overall, 15th on offense, 14th on defense, and 22nd in kicking.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Miami Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami has lost to Alabama, Michigan State, Virginia and UNC while Pitt’s lone slip-up came at the hands of Western Michigan by the tune of 44-41. While the Panthers are scoring 45 PPG on offense (4th in FBS) and allowing only 19.6 PPG on defense (27th in FBS), Miami is scoring just 32.1 PPG (40th in FBS) and allowing 30 PPG (97th in FBS).

The Pitt return game is terrible, but their kicker has missed only one extra point and is a perfect 6-of-6 on field goals. Miami’s Andrews Borregales is perfect on PAT’s but has missed three field goals in ‘21. This thing could come down to a PAT or field goal, or even a blocked kick or big return like many close games do.


Pitt offense

Kenny Pickett has completed nearly 70% of his passes, averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt, and tossed 23 touchdowns with only one interception. Pickett can also scramble, which hurt Miami against UVA and UNC, and has added three TD’s on the ground.

Pickett, Vincent Davis, Rodney Hammond, and Israel Abanikanda have combined for over 1,000 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns this season. In the passing game, Pickett has locked on to Jordan Addison. Addison is averaging 17.2 yards per catch and has logged 10 TD’s in ‘21. He’s joined by Taysir Mack’s 16.8 yards per catch and three scores. Pitt has nine different receivers who have caught a TD this year.

Diaz is going to have to prove that his defense can cover deep balls, tackle in space, and fill gaps as Pitt isn’t a one dimensional attack, they’re coming at you from all angles via OC Mark Whipple and QB Kenny Pickett.

Above- The Clemson defense is still a top three squad in the country, forget the ACC. When they bring pressures they get home. Diaz may bring pressure but Miami has struggled to get home, even with a plus athlete like James Williams off the edge.

Above- What does a great wide receivers coach bring to an offense? The Pitt offense looks completely different, yet, it’s the same O Whipple has ran there the entire time. Brennan Marion will be on off-season coaching watch lists for bigger jobs for sure.

Above- When pressure gets to you, a little half roll makes sense. Pickett gets time and drops a dime on the corner route.

Above- If Clemson gets gashed deep middle, just wait until you see the Diaz scheme plus Bubba Bolden back there...

Above- Pickett doesn’t hesitate, he just powers through for the 1st down. Miami has done a poor job of handling mobile QB’s, even ones that aren’t that fast. Pickett has a little bit of Baker Mayfield in him (I’m joking).


Pitt defense

Pitt’s 4-2-5 defense is led by defensive end Habakkuk Baldonado. Baldonado is 6-foot-5, and 265 pounds. He’s already recorded eight tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in ‘21. Pitt has a dozen players with at least 12 a sack this season.

They’ve also intercepted the ball seven times, and have two players tied with five PBU’s. The Panthers have scored three defensive touchdowns on the season. Miami is going to have to max protect to give Tyler Van Dyke time to throw against this Pitt defense. Van Dyke is also going to have to be more calculated with his throws. Deep throws over the middle and late will be intercepted.

Above- Pitt going full Manny, and you never want to go full Manny, by showing this blitz early. He’s also terrible at blitzing and the QB scrambles right underneath his sloppy form.

Above- Van Dyke needs to have his eyes up and feel this pressure coming, step up, and avoid the sack to pick up a 1st down. Lately that’s starting to click for him.

Above- Van Dyke has avoided the bad interception on some of these balls. Pitt seems to be ball hawking even better than ever in ‘21. Van Dyke will have to be a little more careful with what he does with the football on Saturday.

Above- DON’T GET CUTE. Lashlee, the Pitt defense is top-15 in the country. WARNING.

Above- Pitt has a great defense, but is it at the level of UGA? Not quite. There are holes. Van Dyke and Lashlee have to find what’s open and attack space. Elijah Arroyo over the middle, Jaylan Knighton in the flat-wheel, and Charleston Rambo on the deep ball all sound good to me.

Above- Inside zone read works really really well inside of the 10 yard line at all levels. It’s hard to defend that many threats on a given play in such a small amount of time. The QB doesn’t have to be fast, he just has to make a good read and be quick enough (ie. Sam Howell).


Prediction

My Canyonero keys to victory from the summer were as follows: 1- score some damn points, 2- put pressure on Pickett, and 3- don’t come out flat. Well...

Miami will have to score a ton to keep up with Pitt’s new and improved offense. Getting pressure on Kenny Pickett with the Panthers having the best offensive line in the ACC will be even tougher since Miami has had very little pass rush, even when blitzing, in 2021. Coming out flat is up to Manny Diaz and his coaching staff. Will the ‘Canes travel well and play well in the cold at Heinz Field?

In case you were wondering, a Pittsburgh Salad is a thing and it has french fries and meat on it. I have to eat one of these cardiac salads if Miami loses (if Miami wins my betting counterpart has to chug a hurricane mixed drink).

The betting line has started around 10 in favor of the Panthers. ESPN has Pitt with an 80.2% win expectancy over the ‘Canes. In the summer I predicted Miami by 14, but that was before Pitt put on this scoring display through their first seven games.

Prediction: Pitt by 7.