Defending The Canes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State has faced some solid backs this season, including UConn sophomore Lyle McCombs who was a second-team All-BIG EAST pick last year, but according to Mike Archer none are on the level of Miami's talented duo.

NC State has faced some solid backs this season, including UConn sophomore Lyle McCombs who was a second-team All-BIG EAST pick last year.

However, Mike Archer believes none of them are as talented as Miami's Mike James and Duke Johnson.

"As I told the defense on Tuesday, they are the two best tailbacks we've faced up to this point," said Archer. "It's not even close. James is older and he's bigger. He's a complete back. He's very physical. He'll run you over, run around you, and he'll block you on the blitzes.

"Johnson is the real deal. He's 5'9, 188 pounds, and he's hard to find. He's explosive."

What makes the duo even more dangerous is how well the Miami coaching staff has used them.

"Well, they are balanced, 50-50, they split [the carries] right down the middle," said Archer. "They are going to get into some formations where they both will get in there. When they both are in there, they are trying to get them the football.

"When you see No. 8 and No. 5 in the game they are trying to get the ball in the passing game to one of those two guys."

Miami is currently No. 50 nationally in total offense, generating 428 yards per game with 159 coming on the ground (No. 67) and 269 through the air (No. 37).

The biggest key to the Hurricane offense has been the improved play of junior signal-caller Stephen Morris. He currently ranks fifth in the ACC in total offense (275 yards per game), but is coming off a career game at Georgia Tech where he completed 31-of-52 passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns.

"He doesn't take a lot of sacks," Archer said of Morris. "He's only been sacked three times. When it's not there he's going to throw it in the ground or throw it in the stands.

"When he's hot, like he was last week against Georgia Tech, he threw for 436 yards which I think is the second-most in school history... when he's going good he's really impressive. We've got to do a good job of disrupting there routes, and getting pressure on him and getting him out of his rhythm. When he's in rhythm, he's really good."

A positive for State is the Wolfpack will have available redshirt senior cornerback C.J. Wilson. A three-year starter, Wilson missed the first four games due to a violation of NCAA rules. While he won't be put back in the starting lineup, Wilson is expected to contribute in some situations.

"We'll use [Wison] in the sub package," Archer stated. "Dontae [Johnson] will continue to start in the base package. Dontae has earned that.

"C.J. will see some time when we go to our sub packages against three or four-wides. Other than that, Dontae will see most of the action."

A stat to watch in this game will be Miami's conversions on third down. The Hurricanes are currently No. 20 in the country in third-down efficiency, converting 50.82% of the time.

However, NC State has been dominant on third down defensively. The Wolfpack is No. 12 nationally in third-down defense, while holding opponents to a 25.49% conversion rate. In the three wins, opponents have converted on third down just four times in 32 attempts (12.5%).

"The biggest thing is we've got teams in long-yardage situations, and [they] have to throw the ball 10 yards down the field," said Archer. "It gives us a chance to attack their protections. We've been very good at attacking their protections. .. getting guys isolated on their backs.

"If you look at our sacks, we have a lot of different people with sacks. It's defensive linemen, it's secondary guys, it's linebackers... it's a lot of different people. That's good because you don't want just one guy to do it."

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