Miami's offenses have always done one thing very well. Make big plays. Southern Florida is rich with speedy kids and lots of them prefer to stay home and play in front of friends and family. The Hurricanes have had some down years recently but they still always managed to find guys that can take the top off a defense. This year is no different. Going through game film, you can't help but marvel at the amount of big throws Stephen Morris has made to streaking wide receivers. Stacy Coley has turned a handful of quick screens into mind-blowing touchdowns. Duke Johnson always seemed to be running behind a wall of blockers on his way to a big run before his injury. This offense utilizes it's speed better than anyone Louisville has faced this year.
The Hurricanes run a pro-style offense with an Ace set as it's primary formation. The offense rarely uses a fullback and for the most part you will only see one tight end on the field at a time. The success of the offensive line has allowed the offense to run the ball efficiently without bringing in extra blockers. This gives the offense the ability to keep its speedy group of receivers on the field pretty much all the time.
Miami will run the ball out of any set. They really like the stretch run to the right or sweep runs out of shotgun. The goal is to get their athletic line in space against your smaller guys. They do a really good job running those plays to the right because Brandon Linder and Shane McDermott do such a great job of getting to the second level and getting out in front of their running backs. Seantrel Henderson and Clive Walford really do well crashing down on edge runs as well as kicking out to create the crease on stretches.
One thing that Miami is really missing with Duke Johnson out is a back that knows how to run with patience. Johnson gained trust in his line and really did a great job with taking his time letting blocks develop before using his burst to get to the next level of the defense. Dallas Crawford is still learning the position and this is an area where he struggles a bit. He is a wrecking ball type of back that likes to get the ball and go. That doesn't really work with the blocking schemes that Miami uses and it leads to him getting stuffed a lot.
The offensive line is the key to everything this offense does and it really does a great job at holding blocks. Miami's play action game is very, very good. Morris typically has all day to make a good fake and take his time setting his feet to get the ball down the field. Offensive Coordinator James Coley likes to move Morris around, also. He will roll Morris out for easy dump offs to the tight end as well as deep crosses to slot receivers.
What really works for this offense is getting receivers in single coverage. The success of the run game has really opened up the playbook as the season has gone on. Even without Duke Johnson for the last handful of games, Morris and his receivers have been able to get themselves into single coverage situations and Morris has done a good job of recognizing the coverage and getting the ball to the open man. James Coley has done a really good job of getting the ball to Stacy Coley in space, too. Coley has made a few monster plays on a simple quick screen where he lines up as the inside slot in trips and Morris just gets the snap and quickly throws it to him. Coley is able to make the catch and use his athleticism and unreal speed to score.
Matchups are key for any offense, but this offense lives off of getting your defense to react to what it is doing well. If the running game gets going it forces the defense to put a safety on the slot receiver and that's never going to work. Phillip Dorsett will run past any safety you put in front of him and even worse, you're now playing one safety high with three receivers that can absolutely fly. That's a ton of pressure to put on your corners and your pass rush has to get to Morris now. The speed out wide really can cause issues for a defense.
What Louisville will have to do to stop this offense is to take away it's ground attack. Miami is terrible on third down and Morris has a major issue with forcing the ball into tight coverage. Throw in the fact that he doesn't do well with pressure in his face and Louisville's aggressive defense is exactly what Miami doesn't want to see.
In order to stop the run Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith have to do well in run support. Shooting gaps to cut down edge runs will be extremely important. Louisville's defense has been unbelievable up the middle and that shouldn't change Saturday. Bottling up the running game should force a good amount of third and longs. Miami doesn't have a strong short passing game to assist it's running game if it struggles. They also have absolutely no clue how to slow down and bleed the clock. They are 118th in the country in time of possession and they aren't a high tempo offense like the other teams that surround them in that category.
Louisville's aggression will be something that is somewhat new for Miami. Florida is the closest thing Miami has seen to Louisville. They were only able to put up a little over 200 yards against that group. Miami has seen defenses with more talent this year, but not one that blitzes as much as Vance Bedford's group does. Coley should use more screen passes in hopes to have those blitzes backfire, but Smith and Pryor are both veteran guys that do a great job of diagnosing plays and reacting accordingly. This game could end up being a very nice chess match.
MIAMI KEY PLAYERS: QB Stephen Morris, RG Brandon Linder, WR Allen Hurns, WR Stacy Coley
LOUISVILLE KEY PLAYERS: DT Brandon Dunn, S Calvin Pryor, LB James Burgess, DE Marcus Smith