Miami News & Notes (10/12)

Miami's problems defensively were quite evident against Virginia Tech, and speculation as to what went wrong has covered the gamut from personnel to scheme to mistakes.

All justified, says coach Al Golden, considering the results.
"Everything is fair game as to what we're doing right now on defense," Golden said as the Hurricanes, who have yet to play a conference game at home, began preparations for their trip to North Carolina. "It's all fine.
"But the reality of it is, we have enough talent if everybody plays the same defense, the same call, everybody's got the right gap and we play as a unit. If we play as a unit, we'll be OK right now.
"Will we be dominant right now? No.
"We have to take the ball away. We have to be good on third down. We have to be good in the red zone until we are equipped and have the depth and the strength and all those things to be good on every down."
What the Hurricanes must do defensively, Golden said, is to stop freelancing and follow assignments. It's not a new problem.
Tech, which rushed for 172 yards, wasn't the first team to have success running the football against Miami. Kansas State went for 265 on the ground, Ohio State for 174.
Even Bethune-Cookman, an FCS team scheduled to give the Hurricanes a break, had success, rushing for 219 yards.
"It's little things," senior linebacker Sean Spence said. "Guys are not in their gap. We have a gap control defense, and if one guy gets out of his gap, the ball will find it.
"That's what's happening."
It's something the Hurricanes must find an answer to, and quickly.
Already having fallen to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the ACC, the Hurricanes face two teams that have had considerable success running the football this season in their next two games.
The Tar Heels are rushing for 163 yards a game and have the league's No. 3 rusher in redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard. After that, the Hurricanes take on Georgia Tech, which is averaging better than 360 yards a game on the ground, fourth-best nationally.

--Miami has had its problems with North Carolina since joining the ACC, but the low point had to be the first meeting between the two as conference colleagues. The Hurricanes, who were unbeaten at 6-0 at the time, lost on PK Conner Barth's field goal as time expired to a Tar Heel team that was only 3-4 at the time and coming off a 44-16 defeat at Utah. Miami was ranked fourth in the country at the time. Carolina won three in a row in the series from 2007 through '09.
--The odds of either team kicking a field goal in Miami's matchup with North Carolina do not appear good. Miami has tried only four field goals in five games, making all four. North Carolina has attempted only two field goals in six games, making one.
--Miami's third-down conversion rate of 48.3 percent (28-of-58) ranks third in the conference. The problem is the Hurricanes are allowing opponents to convert at a 44.9 percent rate, which is 11th worst in the ACC.

SERIES HISTORY: North Carolina leads Miami 8-6 (last meeting, 2010, Miami 33-10).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Miami has become an effective running team behind RBs Lamar Miller, the country's No. 3 rusher, and Mike James. The Hurricanes are averaging just under 183 yards a game on the ground. That effectiveness has allowed the Hurricanes to become more judicious in the passing game, and senior QB Jacory Harris, turnover-prone in the last two teams, has become a very efficient passer with only three picks in his four games.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Miami has struggled trying to stop the run. Ohio State had some success running between the tackles, and so did Kansas State. Virginia Tech ran for 172 in the last game. Now the Hurricanes are missing one starting tackle, Marcus Forston, and could be down another if Adewale Ojomo, just moved inside, can't play because of injury.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Given what we have, we have to do a better job -- no excuses -- we have to do a better job of stopping the run or we are going to continue to lose in the fashion we did Saturday." -- Coach Al Golden, noting Virginia Tech's success running the football in its 38-35 victory over his Hurricanes.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Miami at North Carolina, Oct. 15 -- The Tar Heels are just a play or two from being undefeated after slugging out a 14-7 victory over Louisville in their last outing. They are 5-1 overall with their only loss at undefeated Georgia Tech after entering the season on an uncertain footing because of the late coach change. Interim coach Everett Withers took over for Butch Davis (the former Miami coach) less than a week before fall practice started.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Stop North Carolina's running game. If the Tar Heels are able to move the ball behind TB Giovani Bernard, that is going to reduce the pressure on QB Bryn Renner, a high-completion percentage passer who is making better decisions every game. The Hurricanes need to continue to pound North Carolina with its running attack.

RB Lamar Miller -- Miller is the nation's No. 3 rusher (135.4 yards per game) and can break big plays. It appeared that Virginia Tech had him bottled up after holding him to just 20 yards in the first half, but Miller ripped off several big runs in the last two quarters and ended up with 166 for the game.
WR Tommy Streeter -- Pretty much ignored the last two years, the 6-5 Streeter has become a very effective target for QB Jacory Harris. Of Streeter's 14 receptions, four have been for touchdowns.
DE Anthony Chickillo -- A true freshman, Chickillo has earned a starting role and responded by leading the Hurricanes with 3.5 sacks among his 18 tackles. Only senior DT Micanor Regis has more tackles (22) among linemen for the Hurricanes.

--Junior DT Adewale Ojomo didn't play in the second half at Virginia Tech, but it is hoped he will be available for North Carolina. Miami released no specifics on his injury.
--True freshman DT Corey King could figure into the rotation in the defensive front because of the injuries that have hit the position.
--Sophomore RT Seantrel Henderson, who returned earlier than expected after having back surgery in August, is listed the backup behind redshirt freshman Jon Feliciano for the game against North Carolina.
--Senior FB Maurice Hagens and junior John Calhoun are listed as co-starters in the backfield.
--Senior LB Jordan Futch was seen as the likely successor to take over for injured LB Ramon Buchanan (out for the season) and he started against Virginia Tech, but sophomore Kelvin Cain, who has played the last two games, is listed as a co-starter.

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