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Third Down King: Miami Excelling In Conversions When They Matter Most

Photo Credit: MiamiHurricanes.com

Unlike the past, third-down conversions haven’t been a cause of concern for the No. 12 ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Against UAB, they were 7 of 17 (41.2 percent) on third-down efficiency, featuring a 4-yard rushing score from Cam’Ron Harris and a passing touchdown from D’Eriq King to Brevin Jordan on 3rd and goal.

Then against Louisville, Miami was successful on 6 of 13 third-down conversions, featuring a 17-yard score from Will Mallory and a 37-yard bomb to Jordan in the second half.

UM took that to a whole other level Saturday night against long-time rival Florida State, converting on 11 of 16 third-downs, with three of those plays resulting in six points. Miami’s impressive outing puts their third-down conversion percentage at 52.2 percent, a drastic improvement compared to last season’s 25.97 percent success rate, the worst in college football in 2019.

The ability to keep drives alive played dividends for Miami, who cruised past the Seminoles 52-10, extending their winning streak over FSU to four games.

Better yet, they remain undefeated and get a week off before preparing for the No. 1 ranked Clemson Tigers. And as that schedule begins to get more difficult, converting on third-down could be the Hurricanes’ X-factor to compete against their future opponents.

“I thought the key of the game was our possession downs,” coach Manny Diaz said postgame. “3rd downs and 4th downs, especially early in the game. We talk about being relentless on offense but you’ve got to stay on the field. … Those third-down plays, whether it was the lineman doing a great job blocking D’Eriq’s throws, some tough catches down the field.

“I really thought in the first half that was key to our victory.”

To say the least, a mix of King and the offensive line keeping opposing teams from pressuring the pocket and forcing sluggish throws or rushes help the Canes excel offensively.

Take into example King’s first-half showing, where he threw for a perfect 7 of 7 for 85 yards and a touchdown. The end result: 38-3 Miami lead at halftime.

“The things that D’Eriq can do on possession downs make it look the way that it looks,” Diaz said.

Diaz went on to detail how early on the season is, so it remains too early to tell what factors will be difference makers as this Hurricanes team progresses. For now, it’s safe to assume that succeeding on third-downs will help the Canes in the long-run.

Michael Yero covers the Miami Heat, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Dolphins and South Florida High School sports for 305Sports. He’s born and raised in Miami, currently attending Immaculata LaSalle High School.

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