Miami Welcomes PITT To Hard Rock Looking To Rebound

Miami Hurricanes running back Jaylan Knighton (4) celebrates after the Canes defeat Florida State University Seminoles 52-10 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, September 26, 2020.

The Miami Hurricanes are looking to rewrite recent history this weekend as they face off against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Over the past couple of years, the team has become notorious for losing pivotal games and then drastically deteriorating the rest of the season. The Miami culture that boasted confidence and swagger in the 80s and early 90s has led many fans to believe that the team in recent years has an arrogance that has not been earned. Coach Manny Diaz thinks differently of his team.

“We just can’t think we are Miami, and we are more talented than Pitt or whoever because we have been saying that for many years. We have to have respect for who we are playing. We have to understand that our chance of victory comes through our level of preparation, our level or work, and our level of staying together and believing in the team.”

After a brutal 42-17 beating by Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers, the Miami Hurricanes will look to regain their focus.

Pitt (3-2) is coming into this weekend after back-to-back one-point losses to N.C. State and Boston College. Pittsburgh’s dominant defense has carried them through the season, and they are currently ranked first in sacks (25) and tackles for loss (52). After five games, the Panthers also lead in total defense with 263.4 yards per game. The Panthers’ defensive success is led by senior DE Patrick Jones II. Jones leads the nation in total individual sacks (7) and is the heart of the hard-knock defensive front. Sophomore linebacker SirVocea Dennis will also be on Miami’s radar this weekend after being named ACC Player of the Week, after his first collegiate start against Boston College.

The Pittsburgh offense will be questionable since quarterback Kenny Pickett took some hits in their game against Boston College that left him banged up. Pickett will hope to have the help of Vincent Davis in the backfield. The senior running back is expected to start on Saturday after missing the last two games. 

For the Pittsburgh Panthers to be successful, they will be focusing on the following keys:

  • Keep up with the tempo and rushing game of Miami.
  • Respect the diverse talent of D’Eriq King. Pitt will have to stay disciplined in the secondary and win their one-on-one battles.

The Hurricanes used this week to prepare mentally for their next match. Several coaches and players agreed that they had their best practices of the year on Tuesday and Wednesday. With a tenacious defense in Pittsburgh, Miami will need the offense to come out with all their weapons. D’Eriq King will be the headliner on how he responds to the challenge this week.

King has a 61% passing completion with six touchdowns and 857 passing yards. King will hopefully be rejoined by Junior Brevin Jordan. Jordan suffered a right shoulder injury during the 3rd quarter of the Clemson match.

The Hurricanes will also be looking to reinvigorate their running game. Although Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee called for plays to the running back during the first plays of the game against Clemson, the rushing game did not begin until the 4th series of the 2nd quarter. Lashlee is hoping to execute better on Saturday vs. Pitt.

“We are going to have to be balanced and have to be better on early downs. That was the formula for the first three games for us being successful.”

A couple of key points for Miami going into Saturday:

  • Push the tempo and momentum to keep Pitt off-balance.
  • Complete contested balls down the field.
  • Take the points! With a fantastic kicker in Jose Borregales Miami can extend the scoreboard.

Diaz confirmed that there should be no dramatic changes in the lineup on Saturday. Junior Brevin Jordan is still listed as questionable. Other players that will help set the tone for the hurricanes this weekend are redshirt juniors Corey Gaynor and Bubba Bolden, and redshirt sophomore Gilbert Frierson. 

For many fans, this game will be an integral factor in how the remainder of the season plays out for the Miami Hurricanes.

The game is scheduled for noon on Saturday, October 17, on the ACC Network.

Written by Merrissa Vault

Image Credit: AC Communications

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