Miami Hurricanes Success Will Depend on Run Game

TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Running back Travis Homer
TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Running back Travis Homer /

The Miami Hurricanes inability to run the ball and stop the run has been an issue at times during the short Mark Richt era. On Saturday it almost cost them a devastating loss to 1-7 North Carolina.

Big plays from both the offense and defense saved the Miami Hurricanes from an embarrassing loss to North Carolina on Saturday. Miami’s inability to run the ball and stop North Carolina’s rushing attack played a large role in the final margin being close.

This isn’t the first time Miami has struggled to run the ball and stop the run. During a four-game losing streak last season the Hurricanes averaged 65.25 rushing yards per game. In the same time span last season the Hurricanes run defense gave up an average of 182 yards per game.

The final two of those four games were against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. As with last season, the Hurricanes played North Carolina before facing the Hokies and Fighting Irish.

Miami has struggled to run the ball well in two games this season. They had 83 yards on 29 carries in their last-second victory at Florida State. In Saturday’s win at North Carolina, the Hurricanes managed only 62 yards on 30 carries.

Miami has been much better running the football at home this season than they have been on the road. The difference between this season and last facing Virginia Tech and Notre Dame is that the games will be played at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Miami defense has had trouble stopping the run all season. The last five games have been particularly troublesome. They have given up 1,052 yards and 4.4 yards per carry in the last five weeks.

The Hokies Offense has been modernized by second-year Head Coach Justin Fuente. They are still adept at running the football.  The Hokies average over 180 yards per game on four yards per carry.

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  • Notre Dame is going to present an even bigger challenge a week later. The Irish are sixth nationally on the ground. They average over 317 rushing yards per game on 6.89 yards per carry.

    The Irish run a lot of option. Miami faced the Georgia Tech triple option earlier this season. Georgia Tech ran for 267 yards on 54 carries. That was still nearly 30 yards below their season average per game.

    Notre Dame’s ground game and their use of RPO’s will present different challenges than the Yellow Jackets did. Quarterback Brandon Winbush and running back Josh Adams have been shredding opposing defenses all season.

    In conference games only, Miami has been one of the worst teams in the ACC running the football and one of the worst stopping the run. Despite a 5-0 ACC record, the Hurricanes allow 210.4 yards rushing per game. That is 12th in the ACC. On offense, Miami is 13 in the ACC averaging only 120.7 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry.

    Malik Rosier’s erratic play at quarterback has allowed teams to stack the box and dare the Hurricanes to try and run the football. Miami’s slow starts in games have also hurt them. The Hurricanes has outscored opponents by 29 in the first half and 63 in the second half.

    Getting off to a good start should help open up the offense. It will create more running lanes and allow Rosier to utilize play action.

    Mark Richt’s play calling has often been questioned. There have been calls for more run-pass options, jet sweeps and a variance in the running game. Richt himself mentioned after the game to ESPN that he might have given up on the running game too quickly.

    Next: Mark RIcht Getting a Second Wind With Miami

    If Miami wants to get to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game they are going to have to figure out the running game and stopping the run in practice this week. If they don’t, the Miami Hurricanes could be heading for two straight losses to bitter rivals.