All Canes Need Is A Little Offense

Funny how these things happen to shake up sometimes. You can throw out all the un-offensive displays in the last month and a half, the unfair venom recently shot in the direction of the coaching staff, especially at offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, and the consecutive losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee because the University of Miami's football season, shockingly enough, has come down to four quarters.

It's not the biggy compared to a potential Oklahoma-Southern Call meeting in the Sugar Bowl or under the kind of circumstances that most people were predicting back in August. But UM-Pitt for the right to represent the Big East in the BCS is just the kind of medicine the doctored ordered for a Hurricanes squad that regardless of the outcome has underachieved this season.

Although it may sound unimaginable to casual UM fans, not the 38,000 or so who stuck it out in the OB against Rutgers last Saturday, the Hurricanes can make a lot of things feel good with a ‘W' at Heinz Field. Just listen to senior tailback Jarrett Payton, who unlike some Miami fans apparently can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I know people around here expect us to play for the National Championship year in and year out," said Payton, a senior, who unfortunately will be remembered in these parts as the guy who couldn't run like Willis McGahee or Frank Gore, and not one of the most nicest UM players ever. "But there is still a lot on the table for this football team. I would like nothing more at this point to win the Big East and go play in a bowl game."

Right on, Jarrett.

It would obviously be nothing like cementing another National Championship year in the right corner of the Orange Bowl, but a win at Pittsburgh Saturday night would lock down the Hurricanes' fourth consecutive Big East Championship and in all probability send UM home for the holidays - and to play in the Orange Bowl!

Larry Fitzgerald aside, if the Canes take care of the ball on offense and behave like their usual selves on defense and special teams they should handle a Pittsburgh team that has shown a tendency to go soft on defense and allow the big play more often than not.

Despite their struggles on offense the Hurricanes clearly have an advantage over the Panthers thanks to their suffocating defensive unit. Fitzgerald no doubt is always a threat to make a game-changing play. But keep in mind that one of Miami's overall team strengths is their play in the secondary. Those guys back there are capable of shutting out any receiver in the county, no matter who it is. Offensively Miami can't afford a number of turnovers if they intend to win. Although Chudzinski has been the center of plenty of heat lately the Hurricanes are going about it the right way in their play-calling: Avoid the crucial turnovers and allow your defense and special teams to keep you in the contest. That should be the plan in Pitt as well with temperature expected to drop drastically.

From this chair, anyway, a hometown rematch – if they take care of business against Pittsburgh – to face a Jim Tressel Ohio State team that plays defense like they were having food taken away from them would be the most appealing match-up involving UM. Not a rematch in the OB against a stale Florida State bunch.

But no matter where the Canes end up bowling in January, a victory over Pittsburgh would be a temporary band-aid for a program that is deeply in need of attention right now. A loss in Pittsburgh would drop the Canes to 9-3, and open the floodgates for more criticism to come from all directions.

Miami needs this one bad.

Photo Credit: Sports Picture Network

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