After getting their first ACC win this season, the Miami Hurricanes will look to ride their tide of momentum to their homecoming game against Wake Forest.
The Canes (4-3, 1-2) will be in search of their third straight win against the Demon Deacons (4-2, 2-1).
“It’s a tremendous challenge for us because it’s a veteran team,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “They’ve got some phenomenal players on defense. They’re a very veteran defense, an older team like Central Florida. It’s another ACC game which is very vital.”
The Canes struggled in the first half last week against Duke. The Hurricanes trailed the Blue Devils 17-7 with 1:33 remaining in the first half, but quarterback Jacory Harris came in and led Miami to a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-14 right before halftime.
Harris and the Hurricanes went to work in the second half, outscoring Duke 35 to 14. Harris finished 18-for-28 for 185 yards, with four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak in conference play.
“It was nice coming out after [Robert] Marve, just felt good,” Harris said after the win. “I was just having fun running Coach [Patrick] Nix’s offense. It’s a great offense to be in. It gives you a lot of opportunities to make something happen. I knew when my time was called I would come out and do it.”
Wake Forest is coming off a 26-0 loss at Maryland. Still, the Demon Deacons are 22nd nationally in scoring defense, allowing 16.8 points per game, and quarterback Riley Skinner leads the ACC in passing, averaging 214.5 yards per game.
Miami leads the series against Wake Forest, 5-3. The last time the Hurricanes played the Demon Deacons, back in 2005, the Canes downed Wake Forest 47-17. Wake Forest’s last win against the Canes was back in 1944.
“They’re a good team,” tight end Dedrick Epps said. “We know we have to go out there and play our game. Our offense can do that.”
True freshmen have definitely made an impact for the Canes, scoring seven combined touchdowns. The next team with such a productive freshman class is USC, with three freshman touchdowns.
“Five freshmen, in one game, scored touchdowns. That’s unheard of at the University of Miami,” Shannon said. “That’s us doing a good job as the coaching staff, getting these guys prepared for the long haul. When we spread the ball around on offense we’re probably going to win the game.”
In the last two games Miami’s defense hasn’t give up, and they will look to carry that over into Saturday. The secondary, though, will be tested with Skinner throwing the ball. Skinner is a veteran and knows how to exploit defenses.
Against Wake Forest, the Hurricane offense must also bring the same energy they brought in the second half against Duke.
Running back Graig Cooper and wide receivers Thearon Collier and Travis Benjamin have the ability turn something small into enormous gain. The Canes will need this against the Demon Deacons.
And when the Hurricanes need a clutch play, look for wide receiver Aldarius Johnson to be the key.
As usual, Shannon will look to keep his team composed and focus on their homecoming game against Wake Forest.
“They’re understanding that’s just two games,” Shannon said. “Now what we need to do is take the next step in the third game. We have to stay focused like the last two weeks. This team is staying focused.”