Miami football needs to limit long Pittsburgh pass plays

Oct 26, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football team needs to limit long pass plays by a Pittsburgh pass offense that has been one of the most explosive in college football this season.

The Miami football team hosts a Pittsburgh on Saturday against one of the most explosive pass offenses in college football in 2020. The Panthers rank third in FBS in pass plays of over 20, 40 and 60 yards and first in pass plays of 50 or more yards. Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett is questionable for Saturday.

Pickett is one of the most experienced QBs in the country. In his fourth year as a starter when healthy, Pickett is one of the most mobile QBs and best downfield passers in college football. If Pickett cannot play it is a huge loss for the Pittsburgh offense. Reports are mixed if Pickett will play.

Pickett has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,389 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions this season. Pickett has also run for 119 yards and five TDs. If Pickett cannot play, redshirt freshmen Davis Beville or Joey Yellen will play. The expectation at this point is that Pickett will at least start.

The point spread has moved from 10 to 13.5 points with Miami favored as the week has advanced. Miami has been susceptible to pass plays over 10 and 20 yards. The Hurricanes are 71st out of 76 FBS teams allowing 50 pass plays of 10 yards or more and 56th with 15 pass plays of 20 yards or more.

Miami has been good eliminating the extreme explosive plays this season. The Hurricanes are tied for 21st allowing just four pass plays of 30 yards or more. Miami is one of just five defenses that have yet to allow any pass plays this season of 40 yards or more. Limiting Pittsburgh from big pass plays is critical.

Pittsburgh has 22 pass plays this season of 20 yards or more, eight of 30 yards or more, seven from 40 plus, five of 50 or more and three of 30 or more. The Panthers rely on their passing offense. Pittsburgh is 21st nationally averaging 284.2 pass yards per game. Pittsburgh 61st rushing averaging 124 yards per game.

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The Miami defense has to do almost the opposite of what Clemson did to them last week. Miami has to take away the deep ball in the Pittsburgh offense and make the Panthers have to run the ball and attempt to sustain drives to defeat them. Conversely, the Miami offense will have to have some big plays of their own.