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What Needs To Be Seen From Miami Versus UNC

Nell Redmond, Associated Press

Saturday could be arguably one of the most important days the University of Miami football team has played in the past few years.

It’s not on the tier of playing a team such as Notre Dame, Florida or Clemson, but it’s up there. UNC has phenom quarterback Sam Howell leading the charge, which could be a huge problem for the Canes.

Miami enters Hard Rock Stadium as a three-point favorite. The Hurricanes have won five straight games, including wins over N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. On the other hand, UNC has been getting in check, going 3-1 in their last four games. That one loss is coming against one of, if not the best team in the country, Notre Dame.

Here’s what is expected from UM against the Tar Heels.

How will Blake Baker manage Sam Howell?

Howell has been a very intriguing player to watch over the past few seasons, and everybody is aware of what he’s capable of doing. He can single-handedly expose a whole defense if an opposing team doesn’t come up with the correct game plan. Howell has a total of 3,129 passing yards on the season, which ranks third among Division 1 quarterbacks. He has a 68.8 percent completion rate on the season, along with 26 touchdowns.

How exactly will Coach Baker and Coach Diaz attempt to limit Howell?

Edge rushers.

Miami doesn’t have a great secondary, especially with Al Blades Jr. missing, that unit is extremely limited. The linebacker core has played very mediocrely throughout the season and has at times struggled against better offenses – NC State, Clemson. This leaves most of Miami’s hope with its defensive line, which is the story of the season.

Jaelan Phillips has accounted for 6.5 sacks on the season, along with 14 tackles for loss. Quincy Roche on the other hand was the highest-graded defensive linemen from Week 14. According to Pro Football Focus, Roche acquired a grade of 92.1. The ‘Canes need to utilize the talent they have here, just as they’ve done against previous opponents.

Miami needs to do exactly what they did against Duke offensively.

Whatever offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s game plan was going into Duke, he needs to repeat that same plan Saturday. Star quarterback D’Eriq King was able to rack up 248 yards and three touchdowns on 16 of 24 completions. Miami’s run game also exceeded expectations, starting with Cam’Ron Harris. Harris rushed for 96 yards with 2 house calls on 15 carries. King added 46 yards on the ground with 1 touchdown.

Whenever Lashlee gets the run and passing game flowing, the offense almost seems unstoppable. The offensive unit as a whole relies a lot on momentum.

The offensive line needs to create open spaces for Harris and Don Chaney to burst through and get the ball moving downfield. They also must give King just enough time to be able to make the right decisions when throwing the ball and reading the defense properly.

UM’s final regular-season game of the season is a must-win. The Hurricanes have the advantage of playing at home and are looking to get sweet revenge against the Tar Heels.

Born and raised in the 305, Jose is a very passionate Miami Hurricanes and Heat fan. Jose primarily covers the Miami Hurricanes football team, with a special focus on recruiting.

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