Miami Hurricanes defense needs to get off the field on 3rd down

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Shaquille Quarterman
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Shaquille Quarterman /

After struggling at the very beginning and end of the season, the Miami Hurricanes defense needs to assert its self on late downs against Wisconsin. They have to limit the length of drives against a Badgers offense that is far more successful running the ball than throwing it.

In their first two games of the season, the Miami Hurricanes allowed Bethune-Cookman and Toledo to convert 52.5 percent of their third-down attempts. That number would have been 60 percent, but the Rockets failed to convert their last five attempts on third down.

Wisconsin brings the nation’s third-best third-down offense in the country. The Badgers convert 48.8 percent of their attempts on third down. Only Army and Colorado State were better. A large reason that Wisconsin has been successful on third down is that the majority of their attempts have been in short yardage.

Thirty-nine of Wisconsin’s 62 third-down run attempts have been three yards or less. The Badgers average 5.28 yards per carry on third and less than three and have converted 26 of those plays for first downs.

The Badgers have attempted 20 passes on third down and three or less. They have completed 12 passes, 11 of which have gone for first downs.

Forty-seven percent or 80 out of Wisconsin’s 170 third-down plays have been three yards or less to go. Getting the Badgers into medium or longer attempts on third down will go a long way towards making Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook beat them.

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  • Wisconsin has converted only 39.8 percent of their third-down attempts on third and four or longer via the pass. The Badgers only ran the ball 15 times on third and four or more. They only converted four of those for first downs.

    The Badgers practically mirror Notre Dame but have had a slightly better season. In the era of the air raid offense, Wisconsin ran the ball about two-thirds of the time. They ran the ball an average of 44.8 times per game and only threw it an average of 22.4 times.

    Getting ahead will be a big theme for the Miami Hurricanes. They need to be ahead on late downs like a pitcher wants to get ahead in the count.

    The Badgers inconsistent and turnover prone passing game would play right into the defense Manny Diaz likes to play. It would allow Diaz to blitz more often and give his defense a chance to bring out the turnover chain.

    Getting ahead early in the game will also be important against a team that that has an inconsistent passing game. If that can happen with the aid of one or more turnovers that would send the Hard Rock Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

    Next: How does Miami benefit from the messes at Florida and Florida State?

    Head Coach Mark Richt has said that the turnover chain whips up such excitement for the Home Crowd that the Hurricanes have to use hand signals on offense despite being at home.