Miami Football: Adjustments Hurricanes Must Make on Bye Week
The Miami Hurricanes opened the 2014 college football campaign by playing seven consecutive weeks, but the 4-3 'Canes have finally entered their first of two season byes.
Head coach Al Golden and his staff will spend the additional practice time making adjustments and correcting evident flaws before the next game on Thursday, Oct. 23, at Virginia Tech.
Additionally, Miami must address a couple in-game flaws, two areas that have directly contributed to every result so far.
Note: Problems on third down have continuously been covered, so while that issue is the most important to correct, it will not be highlighted once again. Feel free to air your grievances in the comments section below.
More Disciplined Football
The Hurricanes racked up 55 points against Cincinnati, but they managed a stunning 155 penalty yards, too. Fortunately, the Bearcats can't play defense, so it didn't cost Miami a victory.
Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post notes Golden called the 13 penalties "a crazy amount" and was disappointed.
However, that disorder cannot happen throughout the handful of conference matchups left. Granting second chances or hampering their own offense might be the difference between a critical win and a devastating loss for the 'Canes.
Miami is ranked 110th or worse nationally in every penalty category, whether the section is total or per game.
Ultimately, the 'Canes are on pace to be flagged more than 100 times, which would officially fall somewhere among the eight most-penalized seasons in program history. That's not a list this team should strive to join.
Better Pass Rush
Despite the disappearance of cornerback Tracy Howard, the secondary has defended the pass quite well. However, it can't cover forever.
Gunner Kiel stood in some remarkably comfortable pockets last weekend, and the opposing offensive lines remaining on the Hurricanes' schedule will mostly provide the same for their respective quarterbacks.
Sending a collection of blitzes is the easy answer, but Miami has a history of being dominated by crossing routes—especially against Virginia Tech, its next opponent. While that scheme tweak is necessary, the Hurricanes should not rely on six-man pressures.
Yes, Miami has undoubtedly improved up front, registering 16 sacks and allowing just a 52.8 percent completion percentage. With that being said, a couple leading ACC quarterbacks and solid O-lines loom in the near future, and the 'Canes still have higher production levels to attain.
Open Running Lanes on the Right
What do Duke Johnson's early-season 55-yard gain, his recent 80-yard touchdown, Joseph Yearby's 62-yard scamper and Gus Edwards' 40-yard score all have in common? Each explosive play was run behind the left side of the offensive line.
Granted, the right hasn't quite been settled. Guard Danny Isidora and tackle Taylor Gadbois struggled mightily to begin the year. Then, once the duo had settled down, Gadbois sustained a left knee injury.
According to Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald, Golden said, "We're hopeful for Taylor for Virginia Tech."
The 'Canes don't need 30-, 40- or 50-yard runs to the right every game, but being able to open running lanes for Johnson and Yearby to make double-digit gains means more first downs.
More first downs means facing fewer third-down conversions. And for this Miami team, that's rather meaningful.
Turnovers, Takeaways and Corresponding Points
Miami has committed eight turnovers and garnered a mere four takeaways during three losses. Compare those numbers to eight turnovers and 10 takeaways in four victories, and there's an obvious difference-maker.
Yet that doesn't tell the whole story.
In losses, the Hurricanes turned the four takeaways into just 10 points. During wins, Miami capitalized on 10 defensive successes and amassed 52 points.
Save for Pittsburgh at No. 48, Miami's final opponents rank 86th or worse at securing the football—though the 'Canes are listed below all five.
Not only do Brad Kaaya and Co. need to protect offensive possessions, but they absolutely must take advantage of any gifted field position and extra snaps, too.
Win the Fourth Quarter
"Four fingers" is a college football fixture, but the 2014 'Canes haven't defended what the program made famous 20-some years ago.
They've been outscored 54-40 through seven fourth quarters, a stark contrast to the 78-35 during the opening session. Miami scrambled as Louisville, Nebraska and Georgia Tech pulled away, but it closed the door on Florida A&M, Arkansas State, Duke and Cincinnati during the final frame.
Whatever the clutch gene means to you, well, this Hurricanes squad hasn't shown it. Realistically, Miami will soon enter a fourth quarter and be trailing on the scoreboard.
For the 'Canes to preserve their fleeting Coastal Division hopes, they'll almost certainly be challenged to manufacture a few late comebacks. That, or Miami must build an early lead and hold off five tough conference teams for 60 minutes.
And the latter isn't very likely.
Note: Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.
Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.