College Football Week 3: 7 Keys for Miami Against Ohio State
After a pathetic opening to the 2011 season, the Miami Hurricanes will match up with No. 17 Ohio State in Week 2.
Miami came up short against a Maryland team that should have been an easy victory for the Hurricanes. The Terrapins topped the Canes, 32-24.
This should have been an easy way to open the season, after all, the Hurricanes will match up against four ranked opponents in the coming weeks—two in their own conference.
Essentially, their shot at getting into the AP College Football Poll or even a respectable bowl game have diminished quite substantially.
Their chances aren't, however, completely shot. If the Hurricanes can bounce back from a tough loss to Maryland with a victory over Ohio State, they could still end the season in pretty good shape.
Here are five keys for the Hurricanes against the Ohio State Buckeyes:
Improve Offensive Line Play
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Going into 2011, Miami was praised for its offensive line and predicted to have one of the strongest front five in college football.
Unfortunately for the Canes, it didn't go that way against Maryland.
I mean sure, the offensive line allowed Hurricanes running back Lamar Miller to run for 119 yards and a touchdown, but a lack of pass protection allowed the pass rush to keep Miami from mounting any aerial attack whatsoever.
With the return of quarterback Jacory Harris, the offensive line will have to offer some more protection so that the Hurricanes can get their passing game going against an inexperienced Ohio State secondary.
Ohio State is known for its strong defensive line. If Miami can't contain Ohio State's front four, there could be problems all day for the Hurricanes.
The offensive line needs to show up to play if Miami is to even stand a chance.
The Return of Jacory Harris
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Whether you want to blame the offensive line or not, Miami's quarterback play was not very impressive against Maryland.
Sophomore stand-in Stephen Morris played like a sophomore against the Terrapins. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 195 yards and no touchdowns. Needless to say, Jacory Harris' presence was missed.
With the return of the Miami's senior quarterback, a sense of hope returns in Canes Country.
Harris will need to come up big in his return to football, as he leads his squad against an Ohio State defense that is very capable of making plays.
If Harris can outplay his sophomore teammate, he could be able to outlast the Buckeyes' defense and lead Miami to victory.
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Like I said on the previous slide, Stephen Morris didn't play like his team needed him to against Maryland.
On top of not throwing for any touchdowns, Morris threw two interceptions, which contributed to the loss of a lopsided turnover battle.
With Morris' picks, the Hurricanes lost two fumbles that ultimately led to more offensive opportunities for the Terrapins.
If the Hurricanes want to stay in the game with Ohio State, they will have to eliminate their turnovers as much as possible. This doesn't mean the return of Jacory Harris fixes everything for Miami—it will have to take better care of the ball on the ground as well.
Ohio State will capitalize even more than Maryland did on turnovers. Miami needs to possess the ball as much as possible to stay in this game.
Get Passing Game Going and Exploit the Buckeyes' Young Secondary
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The Hurricanes weren't really able to spark an aerial attack against Maryland, largely due to the suspensions of both their starting quarterback and top wideout.
Miami needed Allen Hurns and Tommy Streeter to make plays against the Terrapins but ultimately, the Hurricanes passing offense was held to 195 yards and no touchdowns.
The Ohio State secondary is made up of two red-shirt juniors, a red-shirt sophomore and a red-shirt freshman. Of those players, only one is a returning starter.
The lack of experience in Ohio State's defensive secondary needs to be the proverbial jugular to which Miami takes its knife.
With the return of their senior quarterback, the Hurricanes should be able to ignite their passing game and exploit how young and inexperienced the Buckeye secondary is—just like Toledo did.
Step Up on Defense
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Among players returning from suspensions is senior linebacker Sean Spence, who is a strong presence on defense.
Down five starters on defense against Maryland, the Hurricanes were forced to play five true freshmen. This resulted in the Terrapins gaining over 500 yards of total offense and ultimately the win.
With the return of Spence, among others, will do wonders for this Miami defense that desperately needs to contain a strong Ohio State offense.
In its matchup with Toledo, Ohio State was able to walk away with the win on some rather unimpressive statistics.
Ohio State senior quarterback Joe Bauserman completed only about 50 percent of his 30 passes and produced a mere 189 yards and a single touchdown against a rather lowly Toledo Rockets defense.
On top of that, Ohio State sophomore running back scored two touchdowns on 76 yards, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry.
Everything worked out for Ohio State against Toledo, but if the Hurricanes are faced with the same weak offensive attack by the Buckeyes, they will need to capitalize on this obvious lack of offensive production.
The return of their missing defensive starters could be the difference in another loss and a huge upset against a clearly overrated Ohio State team.
Shut Down TE Jake Stoneburner
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Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner is perhaps the Buckeyes' most explosive play-maker that will be participating in the game against Miami.
On only eight receptions and 93 yards, Stoneburner has four touchdowns, making him a huge concern in the red zone for Miami.
The Hurricanes' defense will likely be looking better with the return of the aforementioned players. They will need to focus on shutting down Stoneburner so that they can force quarterback Joe Bauserman to take risks getting the ball to a very young group of wideouts that lack a scary target wide receiver DeVier Posey, who is also suspended.
If the Hurricanes can force Ohio State to keep the ball on the ground, the Buckeyes could be in trouble.
Have a Sense of Perspective
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Among everything the Hurricanes can do on the field to help them in this matchup, there is nothing more important to Miami than a sense of perspective.
Realistically, this is Miami's best shot at beating a ranked opponent.
Within the ACC, Miami will have to face a No. 13 Virginia Tech and a No. 5 Florida State. Neither of these two matchups will be easy for the Hurricanes, and then they must later face a rising No. 20 South Florida, which could be a major wild card in the world of college football rankings.
The fact that Ohio State is without so many key players, and somewhat overrated, makes this the best opportunity for Miami to get a win against a ranked team.
If it wants this dream to become a reality, using a sense of perspective to realize the opportunity they have before them will be pivotal.
Thanks for reading.