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Coming off a struggled win against Duke, the ‘Canes will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, who stand in last place in the Coastal Division of the ACC.
This time, Miami will not be underestimating their foes. Last week’s tight escape startled the team, and this week’s practices were sharper in preparation for UNC.
“North Carolina this week will be a challenge for us,” Head Coach Randy Shannon said. “They played tough last week against Virginia Tech and kept it close for a while. We need to go out there and just establish what we have to do as a team and get better.”
UNC gave Virginia Tech, the No. 15 team in the country according to the AP poll, a scare similar to what the Blue Devils gave to the Hurricanes last week. They possess a strong passing game lead by quarterback T.J. Yates, a wily freshman who has twice been named ACC Rookie of the Week this season. Yates throws to three receivers who are ranked among the top 10 in receiving yards in the conference.
After Miami struggled to stop the Duke passing game last week, a major point of emphasis will be placed upon the secondary this week in practice.
“[The] guys are not playing a technique,” Shannon said. “It’s just like anything. If you let a guy outside, I can’t help you. You have to know responsibilities, and that’s the thing that is getting us. We need to stress it in practice. We stressed it a little bit here and there and then late in the game we stressed it, but we need to be a little more consistent.”
The ‘Canes will also have to avoid the drop off in intensity that occurred during the middle of last week’s game. While they came out strong and ended the game with a killer instinct, the drop off that occurred in the middle two quarters allowed Duke to stay in the game.
“We got to bear down as a defense and as an offense,” Shannon said. “We need to get the rhythm going and not let it down. We started off fast and then went into a lull before picking it back up. We cannot allow that to happen.”
Much has been made of the former coach Butch Davis versus Shannon coaching scenario. Davis served as coach from 1995 to 2000. The two have often been compared, as Davis is credited with rebuilding the Miami program similar to what Shannon is trying to do now. To make things even juicier, Davis was Shannon’s position coach when the latter played for the Dallas Cowboys, as well as the head coach of a staff that Shannon worked for at UM. However, Shannon does not want to get things confused.
“There is no Randy Shannon versus Butch Davis,” Shannon said. “He just wants to win and is going to compete at every level. He is going to be very enthusiastic and energetic and will have his players ready to play against us. I respect him and he’s a great guy. It is the University of Miami football team against the North Carolina football team.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.