Commentary

Miami must protect Harris, limit drops

Originally Published: September 30, 2009
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.
The Hurricanes mustered only seven points and 209 yards of total offense in their loss to Virginia Tech. That's 28½ points and 256 yards shy of the unit's average during its first two outings -- wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech.

So what gives?

Let's start by handing some credit to Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who did a masterful job of mixing up the timing and launch points of his blitz package. Foster dialed up the blitz on seven of Miami's 10 designed passing plays in the first half. The result: QB Jacory Harris was sacked twice, lost one fumble and completed just two of eight pass attempts by halftime. Foster toned it down a bit in the second half because the Hokies had jumped out to a significant lead, but he still sent at least one extra defender after Harris on six of 18 designed passes. The results were not much better for the Hurricanes.

However, other factors also contributed to Miami's meltdown, including dropped passes, miscommunications on hot routes and ball-security issues. But the silver lining for the Hurricanes' offense is that all these flaws are correctable.

Oklahoma's defense could present the toughest challenge that Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple's unit faces all season. However, the Hurricanes are capable of putting points on the board -- especially if they learn from last week's mistakes.

After studying the game tape -- as well as Oklahoma's defensive game tape versus BYU and Tulsa -- here are four areas where the Hurricanes can better execute and give their team a legitimate shot of pulling off the home upset versus Oklahoma on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC).

For a look at what Miami's offense must do against Oklahoma's defense, become an ESPN Insider. Insider