The Miami Hurricanes picked up their first ACC win last weekend against a ranked Virginia team 17-9 and now sit at 3-3, 1-2 on the year.
As that score above would indicate, the game against the Cavaliers was a defensive battle. Both teams struggled on offense and Miami made just enough plays to get a much needed victory, helped by some unlikely performers.
How can the sluggish Miami offense get a shot in the arm? Here might be a good place to start.
Let Dallas Lead the way
Once again looking at the run/pass balance what stands out is the lack of carries for DeeJay Dallas this season. In six games Dallas has not exceeded 14 carries (twice) in a single game, yet still has two 100-yard performances to show for it.
Dallas is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and has added another 11 receptions and a touchdown in the passing game. He should be the focal point of the offense moving forward.
His toughness and determination fuel the offense in late game situations, if Miami gets the lead opponents need a heavy dose of 13 to put them away.
No More Slow Developing Pass Plays
The struggles of the Hurricanes offensive line have hit rock bottom, Miami now leads the nation with 28 sacks allowed. A porous front five has not given either N'Kosi Perry or Jarren Williams much time to work with.
Part of the problem is the elaborate and slow developing deep pass plays which fall apart against any pass rush whatsoever. Before his injury, Williams was guilty of holding the ball too long and waiting for the home run to Jeff Thomas or Mike Harley instead of taking the check downs.
Tight end Brevin Jordan has been their best receiving option, leading the team with 25 receptions for 417 yards and two touchdowns. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and has shown tremendous playmaking ability in space.
Jordan can dominate in the middle of the field and be a great safety net for whomever is under center, he forces defenses to cover both horizontally and vertically across the field.
Against Virginia the Hurricanes were also able to move the ball with quick bubble screens to the wideouts, allowing them room to use their speed and quickness on the perimeter. This should continue, along with more shorter drops and slant/hitch combos across the middle to the speedy wide receivers.
Cash in on the Money Down
Another negative trend for the Hurricanes offense is their inability to stay on the field and convert on third down. After six games Miami ranks 126th out of 130 FBS teams in 3rd down conversion percentage (27.9%).
In their best offensive performance of the season, a 42-35 loss against Virginia Tech, Miami converted a season high 7-of-15 third down attempts.
When facing other power five teams Miami has only succeeded on six out of 34 third downs (17.6%) in three games, converting in only two such situations in each of those games.
This has put undo pressure on an inconsistent defense, especially late in games when fatigue is an issue. Too many drives are stalling out, ending with punts or field goal attempts. Miami has to do a better job of keeping the chains moving, plain and simple.
Follow us on Twitter for more Miami Hurricanes coverage @CaneMaven. Photo courtesy of Tony Capobianco.