The Miami Hurricanes kept their ACC championship hopes alive Friday night, edging out a 44-41 victory against NC State. There is plenty to say about this game, so here are a few takeaways for UM.
1.) D’Eriq King is the backbone of this team.
What a game the redshirt senior quarterback had.
Through the air, King completed 31 of his 41 passes for 430 yards and five touchdowns, seeming to finally get a handle over his deep ball, which is something he has struggled with throughout the season. King slung the ball down field multiple times with great confidence, including a 54-yard bomb to senior Mike Harley Jr. to overcome UM’s 10-point deficit.
King also had a phenomenal game on the ground, totaling 105 yards on 15 total carries, which on average would be seven yards per carry. In total he now has 535 rushing yards on the season, which would rank second among power five signal-callers this season.
2.) Miami’s defense needs drastic improvement.
From the start, minimizing the production of the Wolfpack’s offense was a task difficult to fulfill. NC State’s receivers were open all over the field, all night long, completely dismantling Miami’s secondary under backup quarterback Bailey Hockman. Hockman, who was pulled out of the field the week prior against North Carolina due to his poor production, completed 19 of 28 passes for 248 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Thankfully, Miami was able to ice the game with a fortunate interception by DJ Ivey late in the fourth quarter, but besides that, the defense didn’t look all too great. Miami not only struggled defensively in the pass game, but also on the ground. The Hurricanes gave up a total of 131 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, with junior tailback Ricky Pearson Jr. responsible for 79 of those yards on 12 carries.
3.) Manny Diaz is slowly installing a different mindset and culture at Miami.
If Miami had a game as close as Friday night in the past few years, they likely wouldn’t have come out on top. To say the least, the prior two seasons hasn’t really fared well for Miami when under pressure. An ideal example would be UM’s contest versus Virginia in 2019, one in which came down to the wire after trailing by more than two possessions, just for the Hurricanes to lose 42-35. This time around against NC State, the Canes were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, with barely any signs of some sort of momentum. Miami then was able to move the ball efficiently down field and come up with some huge stops, resulting in a nail biting win.
The discipline was nothing short of amazing from this team, especially from trailing by double digits in an away game and then coming out victorious.
This Miami team is arguably the most promising squad the program has had in the past few years. The coaching staff, led by two-year head coach Manny Diaz, along with the players, all seem to be more enrolled and focused on the end goal this time around: an ACC title.
This team not only has potential to be a serious contender in a few years, but the chance to be a legit threat right now.