The Miami Hurricanes, newly reborn in the ACC title race after defeating Florida State, will host the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Saturday at the Orange Bowl.
The Canes (5-3, 2-2 ACC) and Wolfpack (3-5, 1-3) are both coming off big wins. NC State beat division leader Virginia last Saturday, a huge win for a program that has now won two straight in ACC play and has become a dangerous foe under their new head coach, Tom O’Brien.
Miami was idle last weekend, following a hard-fought, dramatic win against rival Florida State. While the win was a big boost for a team that had struggled going in, Randy Shannon believes the time to appreciate that win is over.
“You can’t feel good about yourself,” Shannon said. “That game is over with and everyone is going to pat you on your back. Now we have to start up again and focus on our next opponent.”
In order to avoid the type of letdown that occurred after the big win against Texas A&M earlier this season, the team practiced very physically during the off week, much as it did in the week leading up to the Florida State game.
“During the off week guys practiced well,” Shannon said. “On Sunday they went out and executed a lot of plays and got a lot of work done. We are going to be physical in practice and not back off from what we have been doing.”
As it stands now, the Hurricanes are back in the race for the ACC championship game if they can win their final four games. The Wolfpack are the first rung on the ladder that Miami has to climb.
After beating Virginia last week, NC State is the type of team that can present a major roadblock for any opponent that underestimates them. For proof that any team can win on any given Saturday, Miami need look no further than their losses to North Carolina and Georgia Tech, teams that the Hurricanes were favored to beat.
Hurricane players seem to understand the need for focus this week.
“Everything we did this week was full-speed and live,” Shannon said. “We talked about it on Sunday, and the first thing they said was that we cannot take this team lightly. As a team that’s what they said. I just asked the question why we lost two games.”
Shannon also said that quarterback Kyle Wright has been practicing but will be re-evaluated on Friday. After that, the staff will decide if he is able to play or not.
Whoever the quarterback is, they must be ready, as the Wolfpack are a blitz-oriented team and feed off of creating mismatches against the other team’s blocking scheme. They have several players from the state of Florida, so there will be no shortage of intensity on their side of the ball.
“They’re coming off a big win too and that will help their confidence,” Shannon said. “It is a big confidence for them. But knowing Coach O’Brien, he will tell them that that game is over with and they need to focus and play Miami the way they need to. It will be a good situation for both of us.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.