The Miami Hurricanes will try to bounce back from a disappointing loss at North Carolina when they face the Clemson Tigers Saturday at the Orange Bowl.
Last week, the Hurricanes gave up over 500 yards of offense to UNC and allowed over 250 yards on the ground in the 31-28 loss. It was just the fourth loss for Head Coach Larry Coker since taking over in 2001.
In practice this week, Coker said his team must get better and move on from the loss if it is going to be successful.
“We aren’t good enough to feel sorry for ourselves and not prepare for the next game,” Coker said. “We have to just be men and move on. We can still get in the BCS but we have to get better or we won’t beat anybody.”
As for their opponent this week, the Clemson Tigers started the season off slowly, losing three of their first four games. Since then, the Tigers have roared back, winning three straight games to get back to .500. Last weekend, the Tigers whooped North Carolina State 26-20 after defeating Maryland 10-7 the week before. Clemson currently sits at 4-4 and 3-3 in the ACC.
The Tigers boast a talented defense that has played well in recent weeks. Last Saturday, Clemson’s defense forced six turnovers and made a huge defensive stop in the last minute of its victory over N.C. State. The week before, the Tigers used a late drive to defeat Maryland and held onto the lead when their defense forced an interception on the last drive.
On offense, the Tigers use their passing game and quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who struggled in the beginning of the season. On the season, he has seven touchdown passes and 13 interceptions but has played much better in the last three games. Last week, Whitehurst passed for 183 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He has passed for 1541 yards on the season.
The key to the Hurricanes stopping Whitehurst will be to get pressure on the quarterback, something they have struggled with in recent weeks.
“He had a rough start to his year but he is playing pretty well right now. We have to get pressure on him,” Coker said.
A lot of those passing yards have gone to Airese Currie, the ACC’s leading receiver, who has 47 receptions for 649 yards and two touchdowns. The Hurricanes’ pass defense has been suspect in recent weeks and Clemson will try to spread them out and have success again on offense.
“We will have to use multiple defensive backs, but they also run a lot of two back sets, so we have to adjust and be ready for both formations,” Coker said.
When the Hurricanes play Clemson Saturday night, they will be trying to get back to where they were at the beginning of the season. They will also be shaking things up, as Jon Beason will replace Leon Williams in the starting lineup. However, in order to win, the Hurricanes will need to play with more energy.
“Someone needs to make a play, get excited, hit someone and have some fun. It’s not that we don’t have fire, but when you have someone down, keep them down. All 11 guys need to swarm around the ball and make plays,” Tavares Gooden said.
Either way, on Saturday, Hurricane fans will learn a lot about their football team.
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.