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What To Watch For: Miami Hurricanes

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NCAA Football: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

LOUISVILLE NEEDS TO FORCE JARREN WILLIAMS INTO TURNOVERS

Miami benched Jarren Williams earlier this year when he threw three interceptions in the first quarter against Virginia Tech. They are the only three interceptions he has thrown this year but Dan Enos and/or Manny Diaz felt that he wasn’t the right guy at that point and it took N’kosi Perry proving again that he wasn’t the guy for Williams to get the starting job back.

I’m not sure if they would pull him again but Williams has flirted with turnovers a lot this year. FSU dropped two interceptions last week and Williams has fumbled a handful of times this year. The interceptions are one thing but the fumbles are due to his inability to feel pressure. Williams is an inexperienced guy but some quarterbacks just never learn how to use their internal clock. Williams seems to be one of those guys. Louisville needs to continue their trend of covering guys down the field so that the pass rush can get to the quarterback. They were able to do it against Clemson and UVA. Miami’s offensive line won’t hold up as well as either of those teams. Getting a strip sack or jarring the ball loose on a sack would be big.

LOUISVILLE CAN’T ALLOW MIAMI TO BE EXPLOSIVE

Florida State should have had one goal against Miami. Limit big plays. They failed pretty badly at that as Williams was able to find receivers down the field repeatedly. Jeff Thomas is who you would create on a video game if you wanted a guy that could get behind a defense. He has unbelievable speed on top of the type of burst that you typically see from guys his size. The Canes didn’t have a great game running the ball but they were able to do enough to move the defense. That led to a lot of single coverage down the field and no one has guys that can keep up with these Miami receivers.

Miami has the worst third down defense in the country and they have no desire to help themselves by being a run-first offense. So, Louisville has to take advantage of that by getting them into long yardage situations. They can’t allow Miami to get their running game going and be a multi-dimensional offense. Right now they throw a ton of throws at or around the line of scrimmage and ignore their running backs. Play action would help their bad offensive line and UofL doesn’t have the athletes to keep up with these receivers if Williams has time to get the ball down the field.

SCOTT SATTERFIELD SHOULD AVOID STRAIGHT DROPBACKS

Louisville has been running a lot of play action this year with their running game doing well. However, I’ve noticed that Scott Satterfield has been using more straight dropbacks in obvious passing situations. I don’t think that would be a good idea this weekend. Gregory Rousseau comes into this game ranked second in the country in sacks and Miami moves him around the line. Louisville took some unnecessary sacks last week and both quarterbacks seem to be struggling to find an open guy when their first option isn’t there.

Using play action could help slow down the pass rush as well as helping to open up passing windows for the quarterbacks. Miami isn’t a great team but their defense is better than it looks on paper in a lot of areas. I think it would be a good thing for Satterfield to help his quarterbacks this week by trying to get this aggressive defense out of position. Even if they are in long yardage situations.

WILL MIAMI STICK WITH THEIR RUNNING GAME?

I’ve been writing about Louisville opponents for a long time now and each year there’s at least one team that just doesn’t make sense to me. Miami is that team this year. They were that team in 2013 and 2014 as well but they have new coaches now and I expected things to change. The Canes probably ran the ball too much last year but they really struggled throwing the football and you have to do the things you’re good at. This year they have an awful offensive line that can’t protect their quarterback but Dan Enos won’t help the situation by trying to at least balance things.

Miami’s starting running back averages 11.8 carries per game and 6 yards per carry. One of those numbers should lead to the other number being higher. DeeJay Dallas has some big runs this year that have driven that per carry average up but he’s a proven running back who can make plays as well as move the football down the field. Enos has chosen to use his receivers as a type of extension of the running game with quick screens and bubble screens. Defenses have responded by just keeping everything in front of them. He’s essentially turned them into Virginia with a tight end.

At this point, I don’t see Enos deciding that running the ball is how he opens things up but it worked really well against FSU. FSU had to respect the run even though Dallas didn’t find a lot of success. Part of the reason that he wasn’t finding success is that FSU was devoting extra defenders to stop him. That left the FSU corners on an island against play action and his offensive line had some help with the pass rush slowing down. My hope is that he’s too stubborn to change things up this late in the season but Louisville could benefit from Miami wanting to be air raid-lite on offense.

WEATHER COULD BE A FACTOR IN THE OUTCOME

As of right now, it looks like Miami might see some storms coming through on Friday and Saturday. Miami’s stadium has natural grass and they’ve received complaints before about the field’s drainage. So there is a possibility that field conditions could be poor and that gives Miami an edge in my opinion. It’s their home field and a good amount of their players have probably played on that poor field before. It might not be a big edge, but it’s at least favorable.

From the standpoint of how it directly impacts the game, I think that it could help Miami if they decide to run the ball more in the rain. It also might make it hard for Louisville's running game with the need for backs to make quick cuts to get through the running lanes. I also wonder how the ball being wet and possibly muddy will impact snaps and how quarterbacks handle the football. Louisville will want to push the ball down the field against man coverage. Will the quarterbacks be able to do that?