Miami football stopping run critical for second straight week against Michigan State

Sep 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Richard Graulich-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Mandatory Credit: Richard Graulich-USA TODAY Sports /

The run defense for the Miami football team will be challenged for the second straight week when they host Michigan State on Saturday. Michigan State travels to Hard Rock Stadium with the sixth-ranked rushing offense nationally averaging 299 yards per game. The Spartans are deep at running back.

Kenneth Walker began the season with a 75-yard touchdown run on his first carry against Northwestern. Walker finished with 264 yards rushing, four touchdowns on just 23 carries against the Wildcats. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 38-21. Walker had only seven carries for 57 yards and one TD last week.

In the Spartans victory over Youngstown State, backup RB Jordon Simmons had 16 carries for 121 yards. As they did against Appalachian State, Miami needs to make Michigan State quarterback Peyton Thorne beat them. Thorne is completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 465 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Miami run defense is 69th nationally allowing 137 yards per game. Miami is 63rd allowing 3.56 yards per carry. Michigan State is third nationally with an eye-opening 7.97 yards per carry. The Spartans are 51st averaging 254 passing yards per game. Michigan State is 24th at 9.4 yards per passing attempt.

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The Miami defense has a tough challenge against Michigan State. Miami is 111th in pass defense allowing 276.5 yards per game. Those numbers were greatly skewed in the loss to Alabama. Miami held Appalachian State to 199 passing yards in their 25-23 victory. The Hurricanes are 93rd allowing 7.6 yards per attempt.

Appalachian State averaged 5.85 yards per attempt. That would put the Miami football team about 44th through the first two weeks. The 199 passing yards allowed against the Mountaineers would put Miami 62nd if that was their average over the first two weeks. Michigan State has a better passing offense than Appalachian State.

Michigan State has playmakers at wide receiver to complement Simmons and Walker. Jayden Reed has been sensational after transferring from Western Michigan. Reed has nine receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns and is 11th nationally averaging 27.2 yards per reception.

The Michigan State balance makes them difficult to defend. Adding to facing the balanced Spartans offense, the Miami football team will be without linebacker Keontra Smith who is out through the second weekend in October when the Hurricanes have a bye week. Waymon Steed has been elevated to replace Smith.

Miami loses speed with Steed replacing Smith. The Hurricanes need to get to after Thorne upfront while being able to limit the Spartans’ run simultaneously. Manny Diaz is probably going to have to pick an area to focus on first. Miami ranks 22nd with 8.5 tackles for loss per game through the first two weeks of the season.

Next. Five Miami starters being challenged. dark

With only two sacks Miami is 102nd nationally. Appalachian State avoided Miami pressure by getting the ball out quickly. If Michigan State goes to a quick passing game, the Miami LBs and safety have to do a better job tackling. The Hurricanes defense will be challenged Saturday against a greatly improved Spartans offense.