Keys to Miami (Fla.)-Pittsburgh
By Paul Myerberg // Sep 23, 2010
It’s a big game for both teams: Miami (Fla.) needs a win to help it bounce back from a loss to Ohio State, while Pittsburgh badly needs a marquee win before entering Big East play. But it goes beyond that: both teams need a big game from their respective star; each has disappointed thus far. Want another storyline? What about two conferences looking for a big victory in non-conference play? The A.C.C., after disappointing efforts from Virginia Tech — James Madison — and Georgia Tech — Kansas — needs to make a statement. If Pittsburgh goes on to win the Big East, a win tonight must just validate its inclusion in the B.C.S. at year’s end. Here are some factors to watch in tonight’s game.
Can Dion Lewis get on track? He’s been impotent through two games, combining for only 102 yards in a loss to Utah and a win over New Hampshire. Strangely, Lewis fared better against the Utes than he did this past weekend, when rushed for only 27 yards on 10 carries. Over the same two-game span, his reserve, Ray Graham, has rushed for 115 yards on 9 carries — all against New Hampshire, with a 64-yard run doing most of the damage. Graham’s a great player, one who would start for countless teams across the country, but Lewis is the engine behind the Pittsburgh offense. Quarterback Tino Sunseri has fared well as a debut starter, minus a late interception against Utah; he could be even better should Lewis help carry the load.
Can Pittsburgh get to the quarterback? This task will be made far more difficult without the services of Greg Romeus, who will miss at least the next four weeks with a back injury. The Pittsburgh pass rush certainly suffers in his stead. The Panthers were held without a sack against Utah, though they bounced back with sacks in the win over New Hampshire. The Miami offensive line is not great, still working out the kinks with a handful of new starters, so perhaps Pittsburgh can have similar success against the Hurricanes.
What about Sunseri against the Miami pass defense? We’re in wait-and-see mode with the Miami secondary: its an inconsistent bunch, albeit one with a tremendous amount of talent. This is true even on a play-by-play basis. For instance, Miami held Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor to 12 completions in 29 attempts; unfortunately, those 12 completions went for 233 yards. If Miami can maintain its focus on each snap, the secondary — and a talented defensive front — can give Sunseri, Jon Baldwin and the Pittsburgh passing game fits.
Can Jacory Harris avoid turnovers? Easier said than done. Harris alternates between brilliance and puzzlement, as we say against the Buckeyes. He’s now suffered eight multiple-turnover games as Miami’s quarterback — roughly one such game every two starts, give or take. Not surprisingly, Miami has lost of its last three games — Clemson, North Carolina and Ohio State — when Harris throws at least two picks.
Can Miami’s receivers lend a hand? This group certainly didn’t do Harris any favors in Columbus, dropping a number of passes — at least one in or near the end zone, another that led to an interception. This group, which is led by Leonard Hankerson, Travis Benjamin and LaRon Byrd, among others, can do better. Above all else, the mental sloppiness was troubling. Pittsburgh remain questionable at cornerback, though the Panthers will improve at this position throughout the season; Miami has the talent at wide receiver to create mismatches.
Leave a Comment