Last week's cliche phrase was the quest for a "signature win."
Let's face it, UM came up short despite a spirited effort, as their defense failed them miserably.
This week the buzz surrounding tonight's contest is that it is a "must win."
If Miami hopes to salvage the season and compete for an ACC Coastal Championship, it is the first of many.
Here are my three keys to achieving the "must" win:
#1 Play with Passion - I know, I know, I am going heavy on the adages and hyperbole. But think about it for a second.... and forget all of the X's and O's...Against Nebraska how many of Miami's players were playing each play like it was their last? Duke Johnson (fumble or not) ran that way. At times the offensive line showed that spirit. Did anyone on defense really commit and sell out? Thurston Armbrister had a moment or two. Deon Bush brought it for a play. Yes they were lined up way too far off the ball against the run heavy offense of the Huskers, but when they met Ameer Abdullah in the hole, who wanted it more? The glorious 'Canes teams of yesterday played the game with spirit, energy, and swag on every single snap. Yes there are adjustments that need to be made by the coaching staff, but first and foremost the players need to commit and sell out. Less talented teams beat foes with better athletes by using smart strategy and with all out dedication. Miami is not the less talented team today. They need to match Duke's effort.
#2 Find a way to get Duke Johnson at least 20-25 carries - If there a most obvious weakness on the Duke team, it is the depleted front 7 (star LB Kelby Brown is out for the season). Despite a very soft schedule to start 2014, the Devils currently rank 92nd of 124 teams in rush defense, giving up a whopping 182.3 yards a game. (For those wondering Miami is 65th and 147+ even after the shellacking in Lincoln). Somehow, despite a 6.1 ypc average, Johnson has yet to eclipse the century mark this season. If the Hurricanes want to win, he might need somewhere near 200.
#3 Win the turnover battle - Yes, you can accurately argue this is true of any game, but especially one that is expected to be a shoot out. Each score in this contest will be like "holding serve." With both defenses in a disadvantage Vs the respective offenses, turnovers might be the best (and only) way to prevent scores. UM has more athletes on the field than Duke on both sides of the ball, so this should present the opportunity to jar the ball free or come up with a few picks.
There you have 'Canes fans. Miami needs to play this game with fervor on each and every snap, utilize Duke Johnson to the fullest against the struggling Duke run defense, and force a few turnovers to protect their own struggling D. If they can do those three things, all might be right in Coral Gables. At least for another week.