The Miami Hurricanes offense will face one of its biggest tests going against an elite Pittsburgh defense a week after they were stymied against Clemson.
A week after a crushing 42-17 loss at Clemson, the Miami Hurricanes offense faces another huge challenge against an elite Pittsburgh defense on Saturday. Pittsburgh enters Saturday’s game 12th nationally in scoring defense, sixth in total defense, second allowing 52 rushing yards per game and 24th in pass defense.
Pittsburgh might have the best front seven in the country. The Panthers are first nationally with 52 tackles for loss and 25 sacks. The Miami offensive line has to get back to playing as well as they did in the first three games, not the 11 TFLs and five sacks they allowed against Clemson.
After the Clemson game, Miami ranks 64th out of 76 FBS teams with 30 TFLs and 42nd with eight sacks allowed. The Pittsburgh defense will challenge the Miami offense. Pittsburgh defensive ends Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver rank fourth in the country in TFLs with seven each and linebacker SirVocea Dennis has 6.5 TFLs.
Louisville is the only mutual opponent that Miami and Pittsburgh have played this season. The Cardinals offense had 516 yards in a 47-34 loss to Miami. The Hurricanes defense was able to keep Louisville from any explosive plays. Pittsburgh held Louisville to 223 total yards in a 23-20 victory.
Louisville running back Javian Hawkins had a 75-yard TD in the first half that accounted for more than a third of the Cardinals yards. After a hot start, the Panthers defense has not been as good the past two weeks. Pittsburgh allowed 398 yards in a 30-29 loss to North Carolina State and 388 in a 31-30 loss to Boston College.
Weaver and Jones are two of the best edge rushers in the country. Weaver is ranked third by Pro Football Focus and Jones 36th. Pittsburgh has playmakers throughout their defense. Tackles Calijah Kancey and Devin Danielson are ranked eighth and 19 among interior lineman per PFF.
Cam Bright for Pittsburgh is the nation’s ranked LB and Dennis is 21st. Safety Paris Ford is another Panthers defensive player to watch. Miami could be without junior tight end and their leading receiver, Brevin Jordan who sustained a shoulder injury against Clemson. Miami could have trouble relying on their passing game with Jordan.
Pittsburgh is likely to stack the box against the Miami Hurricanes and make them run the football. The Panthers stout run defense is going to make that very difficult for Miami. Miami needs junior Will Mallory who is likely to start if Jordan cannot play and their running backs to contribute significantly as receivers.
After rushing for 337 yards in the season-opening 31-14 win over UAB, Miami quarterback D’Eriq King was most of the rushing offense for the Hurricanes against Clemson. King had 14 carries for 84 yards and a TD against Clemson. The Miami running backs combined for 10 carries for 11 yards against Clemson.
The Hurricanes have to have offensive balance against Pittsburgh. If Miami cannot run the ball against the Panthers, Pittsburgh will be able to focus on rushing and passer and keeping King in the pocket. Those were the same strategies Louisville and Clemson used. It did not work for the Cardinals but worked perfectly for Clemson.