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Opponent Preview: Miami

The Hurricanes travel to Chapel Hill to play the #23 Tar Heels (playoff ranking)

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina comes off its destruction of Duke with a home game for senior day against Miami. The Heels come into this game with their first ever College Football Playoff ranking at #23. The Heels will face a Miami team full of good athletes which will make sure that they can not coast in this game. The Heels need to come out with the same intensity they showed against Duke and maintain that effort for the rest of the schedule to make the ACC championship game.

Passing Game:

Miami is led by sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya. Kaaya has been banged up this season and missed the Miami's memorable win at Duke. Kaaya is a pocket passer who hits 62.7% of his passes for an average of 8.36 yards per attempt. Kaaya has three chief targets; Rashawn Scott, Herb Waters and Stacy Coley. Scott is a Senior who serves as Kaaya's primary target with 39 catches for 539 yards and four touchdowns. Waters is the most explosive receiver on the Miami team, averaging 15.8 yards per catch. Waters is also the second leading receiver in terms of yards, with 504. The final of Miami's main receivers is Junior Stacy Coley, Coley has 33 catches for 486 yards and 3 touchdowns. Any of these three receivers can punish the Heels if the coverage is lax and Carolina will need to focus on all three to win the game.

Rushing Game:

Miami has two primary rushers, Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton. Yearby receives the most carries on the team and Walton really acts only as a spell. Yearby has 143 carries for 719 yards for a robust 5 yards per carry. When Walton gets the ball there is a noticeable drop off as Walton only averages 4 yards per carry. Kaaya is not a threat to run from the pocket and will not even scramble when rushed. Yearby and Walton should be respected by Carolina's defense since opponents have attacked Carolina on the ground effectively this season. Carolina will need to clog up rushing lanes with the defensive line to make the Hurricanes throw.


Miami has been let down by their defense this season. Miami has allowed opponents to get 5.10 yards per carry this season and opponents average 6.49 yards per attempt against Miami. Opponents of Miami complete 61.2% of their passes, something that should make for a good day for the Heels. Finally, the Hurricanes are weakest in the red zone where opponents convert 87.88% of their possessions into touchdowns.

Weekly Assignments:


Carolina came out with great energy and a great mentality last week in its game against Duke. Carolina ran up the score and never let their foot off the gas. The Heels need to come out of the gate with the same focus and purpose on Saturday. If the Heels want to have any shot of making the playoff then the Heels need to blow out every team they face for the rest of the season.

Big day from the Defensive Line:

To stop the Miami rushing attack the Heels will need to stop Miami at the line of scrimmage. The Heels will need a big game from the line to make sure that the Heels can drop enough players into coverage to stop the Miami passing attack. Without a good effort up front, the Heels will have to pull more men into the box and that will detract from the Heels' ability to stop the pass in this game. Such a weakness could open up vital lifelines for Miami to pull the upset.

Keep the Red Zone Defense Strong:

Carolina's defense has played with a bend not break mentality all season. They need to keep up that mindset and performance in the red zone against the best quarterback they will face all regular season in Kaaya. The Heels will need to keep up their red zone defense in this game since it will be good practice for the NC State game and a potential ACC Championship game against Clemson.