Keys to the Game

Gameday has arrived and writers of look at the keys to today's game.


1) Get off the field
Miami's defense has struggled to get off the field after third downs. Last week, Florida State converted 11 of 17 third downs and opponents have converted 38 of 76 third downs this season. Giving opponents' drives new life is not what you want to do if you want to win games. The Hurricanes have to hold UCF on third downs and force punts. That will give the offense better field position and get the defense on the sidelines resting for their next series. Punts will also put the ball in the hands of one of Miami's most electric playmakers, Travis Benjamin.

2) Come out an play with intensity
Miami has had the reputation of playing to the level of their opponents in recent years. Unfortunately for Miami, that is not the way to win games. The Canes need to come out and play with intensity for four quarters. They cannot assume that this is a win because they are playing UCF. The Hurricanes need to play hard regardless of who the opponent is. After two disappointing losses in a row, Miami needs to bounce back with a victory this week and they need to give everything they've got in order to do so.


1) Establish the running game
This can be said of any game but it has to continue getting listed as one of the keys to any game for the Hurricanes. They have one of the most explosive backs in the conference and whenever he's utilized a lot, the Canes are winning games. Even though the Canes fell behind early last week, it's hard to believe how little Graig Cooper was used. It put too much pressure on Robert Marve and the passing game, which allowed FSU to pin its defensive ears back and create a lot of pressure. It also put the defense on the field a lot. Even when last week's game was close to start the 4th quarter, FSU was able to get their running game going while Miami chose not to. That has to change this week, and the Canes must have success running the ball if they want to have success in beating the Knights.

2) Win the special teams battle
The special teams played its best game of the season last week for the Hurricanes and while some call it a great performance, I think it's the way Miami should play every week on special teams when you consider the types of athletes it has on those units. The special teams really hurt the Canes in losses against Florida and North Carolina and it's hard to imagine the offense will struggle today as much as it did last week so a strong day on special teams should put the Canes in good chance to win this game going away. Play poorly on special teams and the Canes will be inviting an upset. UCF's Joe Burnett is outstanding in the return game -- very similar to guys like Florida's Brandon James, North Carolina's Brandon Tate, and even Travis Benjamin. Slowing him down will be a major priority today.

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