As Miami (4-2) prepares for a tough conference match-up against North Carolina (4-2) at Sun Life Stadium, here are some keys to the game that Miami must consider if they are to be victorious against the Heels.
- Improve the red-zone defense. As we all know, the ‘Canes red-zone defense is atrocious. They currently rank 81st and have allowed 27 touchdowns and seven field goals thus far. Against Miami, opponents score 65% of the time while in the red-zone. This will not fly against RB Gio Bernard who is capable of running all over this young Miami defense. Which brings me to my next point.
- Stop RB Gio Bernard! Bernard turned in 262 rushing yards for the Heels in their win against Virginia Tech. The St. Thomas Aquinas alum has rushed for 475 yards this season and his totals would be higher if he hadn’t been battling an injury earlier this season. The Miami defense is certainly the ‘Canes Achilles’ heel and UNC, in particular Bernard, will provide another tough challenge.
- Create turnovers. With their porous defense, surprisingly, Miami has been able to create turnovers. However, in their two blowout losses, the ‘Canes only managed to force just one turnover when they intercepted Kansas State QB Colin Klein. When Miami depends on their offense to put up points, it is imperative that their defense remains sidelined for as long as possible. More importantly, if the Miami defense can force turnovers and then capitalize, Miami will have a better chance at becoming 4-0 in ACC play.
- Start strong. When Miami comes out strong in the first quarter, this provides a much needed confidence. When the ‘Canes failed to score in the first quarter vs. Notre Dame, for the remainder of the game the Miami players were not playing up to their full potential – on offense, as well as defense. They need to start fast in order to gain momentum, something that is important for this group of youngsters.
Wieclaw, make some field goals, please. Miami cannot continue to squander potential points, especially when their defense is among the lower tier of college football. The senior kicker began this season hitting his first seven field goal attempts. Since then, Wieclaw has missed five of his last six. If Miami is to beat UNC, it is important that they capitalize on every opportunity that they have.