The Hurricanes defense has to put pressure on sophomore Christian Ponder. The Canes have only managed to record seven sacks over four games and have had trouble getting to the quarterback lately. Miami needs to get Ponder out of his rhythm early and force bad decisions. The young quarterback struggled mightily against a swarming Wake Forest defense and the Canes need to put Ponder in a similar situation. FSU has had success running the ball this season but with Miami stopping the run so well, the Seminoles will likely have to pass to win. If the Hurricanes can rattle the passer, they can win the game.
Play 60 minutes
Miami suffered a disappointing loss last week to UNC where it seemed like the Canes mailed it in towards the end of the game. The team has to play hard for 60 minutes and learn to finish teams off. They cannot afford to take the foot off the gas against anyone. The offense cannot become too vanilla if there is a lead in the fourth quarter and the defense cannot just go through the motions late in games. Fortunately for the Canes, the FSU game rarely gives either side the opportunity to relax but if an early lead is built, the team cannot back down. If Miami can keep the level of play up for 60 minutes, they should be in a good position to win.
1- Improve on special teams. Everyone keeps talking about how the offense should do this, Coach Nix should do that, the defense has to....well, lets be honest -- Miami's special teams units have been far from special this season. The coverage units haven't been real good. They've had two blocked punts in very crucial situations already this season. The kickoffs aren't going very far. Bottom line is this -- if the Canes were a little better on special teams last week, they would've won. And if you think back to the Florida game, even if the special teams units were average, that could have been a 3-0 game going into the fourth quarter. Miami has too many big play guys to be playing the way thay have been. This is always a big part of the game in this series and later today will be no different. If the Canes are solid here, they should be in position to win. If they're not, we might not like the end result.
2- Establish the running game. I'm confident the defense will come ready to play. I'm confident Robert Marve and the receivers/tight ends will come ready to play. However, none of that will matter (see the Florida game) if the Canes can't get the running game going -- especially early. This is huge for Miami and a healthy dose of Graig Cooper early will hopefully open up some big plays for the Canes in the passing game. Miami's been a much different team this season when they're running the ball well.