As we mentioned during our rundown of the Saturday's games, the Miami Hurricanes played the North Carolina State Wolfpack in a wild, high scoring affair last Saturday. The Hurricanes are set to play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Chicago's Soldier Field this Saturday, and will take their 4-1 record into the game against the Irish. Will their offense be able to replicate the high yardage and point totals that they put up against Georgia Tech, NC State and Boston College, or will they look like the unit that was held to three points by Kansas State?
The Hurricanes employ a drop back passing attack from under center that they try to compliment with outside and inside zone running. While Miami's freshman running back Duke Johnson is a fantastic athlete, the Hurricanes' coaching staff seems reticent to give him more than 10-12 carries a game.
His senior backfield mate Mike James is one of many Hurricanes recruited by former coach Randy Shannon who has never lived up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment. He is a serviceable power back with a physical running style, but he lacks Johnson's big play ability.
The Hurricanes defense has been definitely awful. Against FBS competition, Miami's defense is allowing over 39 points per game. And it's not like the Hurricanes have faced a murderer's row of offenses either. They gave up 52 points to defense-first Kansas State, 32 points to thoroughly mediocre Boston College, and 37 points to a Wolfpack team that looked outmatched on offense against FBS competition. Other than Georgia Tech, there's no a single team that Miami has played that possesses a strong offense, yet they've all lit the formerly dominant Hurricane defense up.
The Hurricanes' path to success this season begins and ends with the passing attack. Quarterback Stephen Morris is averaging a decent 7.9 yards per attempt – and unlike his predecessor at the position, the mercurial Jacory Harris – he is doing a better job of managing turnovers. He has thrown only four interceptions through Miami's five games, and thrown no more than one in any single game.
Miami's passing attack is more of a controlled Bill Walsh-filtered-for-college-kids type system, and puts stress on linebackers to make plays underneath. They are going to try to draw the defense up with the underneath throws to set up the deep stuff, and as Morris showed against NC State, he is very capable of hitting the long range throws.
Miami is going to be an excellent test game for Notre Dame. If Notre Dame can't move the ball on offense against this sad-sack Hurricanes defensive unit, they are unlikely to move the ball at all against anyone not named Navy. And Notre Dame's secondary will either finally be exposed as the weakness many pundits believe it to be or prove itself against the Hurricane passing attack.
Keep posted here at FightingIrish101 for further previews of this year's Shamrock Series game.
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