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Gameday Preview: No. 19 UM at Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The 19th-ranked Hurricanes (1-1) try to get back on the winning side of things by facing one of their former Big East rivals, Pittsburgh (1-1), for the first time since leaving for the ACC. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN and on the radio at WQAM.com. Feel free to participate in our discussion below as you tune in.

REWIND: The Canes lead the all-time series 21-9-1. The last time they met, UM came away with a 28-14 win at Pitt. Jarrett Payton led UM's offense rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown while Jonathan Vilma had a game-high 11 tackles as UM's defense produced nine sacks and three turnovers. The Canes have won six in a row in the series. The Canes are looking for its 33rd consecutive win against an unranked, non-conference opponent in regular season play.

ABOUT PITTSBURGH: The Panthers opened the season ranked, but quickly dropped out of the Top 25 poll with a tough loss at Utah. The following week, they crushed New Hampshire on the same day the Canes lost at Ohio State. Pitt has compiled a 6-9 mark on Thursday night, its last appearance coming on Oct. 2, 2008, when the Panthers defeated No. 10 USF in Tampa, 26-21. Pitt is 1-3 against Miami on Thursday night, the lone victory a 21-17 decision in 1997 at Pitt Stadium.

Dion Lewis Pittsburgh's offense is led by Big East 2010 Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year Dion Lewis (5-8, 195), who has struggled rushing for only 102 yards on 35 carries (2.9 avg) in his first two games as a sophomore. Last season, Lewis lead the country in rushing with 1,799 yards. Utah held him to 75 yards on 25 carries. Ray Graham (5-9, 195) has had fewer carries, but has been explosive, rushing for 115 yards on nine carries. First-year starting quarterback Tino Sunseri has completed 65 percent of his passes for 459 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs in his first two starts. His top two targets in the passing game are big receivers -- Jon Baldwin (6-5, 230) and Mike Shanahan (6-5, 220). Baldwin is the experienced veteran with 15 catches of 40 yards or more -- including nine that have gone for touchdowns.

The Panthers defense was one of the best country last season, leading the country in sacks and ranking 17th in rushing defense and 23rd overall in total defense. But injuries have hurt them a little bit. Big East Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus (Coral Glades High) had back surgery and isn't expected to return at the earliest until November. Junior defensive tackle Chas Alecxih (6-5, 280) could still present a huge problem for the Canes in the middle, especially after seeing the success Ohio State had creating pressure up the middle of Miami's offensive line. Alecxih has three of his team's six sacks this season. Right end Brandon Lindsey (6-2, 250) has two sacks starting in Romeus' place. Strongside linebacker Greg Williams (6-3, 240) ranks second on the team with 11 tackles. The Canes are going to want to keep the ball away from sophomore free safety Jarred Holley (5-11, 180) who has both of the Panthers interceptions this season.

Interesting special teams stat for Pittsburgh: The Panthers have blocked 23 kicks under Dave Wannstedt since the 2005 season. In 2008, the Panthers blocked a school-record and national-best 10 kicks. Six current players have blocked kicks during their Pitt careers. The Panthers blocked one in their season opener versus Utah.

FOR THE CANES, THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON...
> First and foremost, how quarterback Jacory Harris bounces back from what he called his worst week as a Hurricane following a loss. It wasn't just the four interceptions against Ohio State for Harris, but the off the field issues -- racist Twitter messages, etc. The Canes need Harris, who was obviously bothered by it all, to prove he's focused on football and zeroed in on his receivers. The smart thing for offensive coordinator Mark Whipple to do is take the pressure off Harris from having to make too many big plays with his arm. UM coach Randy Shannon said his running backs Damien Berry, Lamar Miller and Mike James would get at least 20 touches each this week between rushes, returns and receptions. If the Canes are smart, they'll do just that. Pittsburgh's run defense isn't at full strength and gave up 122 yards on 27 carries in its loss to Utah. The Canes should be able to run the football and then throw it pretty easily. The Panthers rank 94th in pass defense.

> All week long we've heard about the amount of attention the Canes have spent in practice trying to improve their tackling and trying to create turnovers. It's time to see if the hardwork paid off. Pittsburgh's offensive line had to replace all three interior linemen from last season's team -- a big reason the team has struggled running the football. There's no reason the Canes shouldn't be able to bottle up Pitt's running game and put pressure on the Panthers' young quarterback. Allen Bailey, who hasn't had a sack since last Halloween (a stretch of seven games), will see more time at tackle this week. I'm guessing he'll be a big factor in this game.

> Heinz Field can be a tricky place to kick field goals because of the wind. After missing one in his last game and having another blocked, Matt Bosher can go a long way in improving his NFL stock with a good game in this one.

> MY PICK: This Pittsburgh team was picked to win the Big East in the preseason and as upset and focused as UM might be, I don't see a blowout happening. Including its season-opening 27-24 overtime loss at Utah this year, Pitt's last four losses have come by an average of just 3.5 points per game. The Canes are 8-12 all-time under Shannon away from home. This won't be easy, but they'll find a way. UM 26, Pitt 17. 

With the late game start, I won't be doing any live chat this week. Feel free to discuss the game below.

Comments

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And I know that from where you are at, you can't check this, but can you have an IT person confirm that the guy that posted under my ID at 12:59 was not at the same address, and was likely from an address that has attacked this site in the past?

Do you expect the Canes to put in their backups if they get a big lead? After all they did that for FAMU, and Shannon likes Wannstadt.
Posted by: Feral Cat | September 23, 2010 at 05:39 PM

A: Absolutely, if it happens. I think Randy does it only if the Canes are up three TDs and its late in the fourth quarter.

I'm going to head down to the field... send me your questions on Twitter and follow my updates on there until I get back upstairs.

Manny,

What have you heard from the WR Corp? I feel like Streeter and Aldarius are on a milk carton. Has Benjamin worked on his presnap reads?

2 HRS. TO KICKOFF AND THEY ARE NOT AT THE STADIUM YET? Did thier movie run over ?

2 HRS. TO KICKOFF AND THEY ARE NOT AT THE STADIUM YET? Did thier movie run over ? Posted by: sidcane | September 23, 2010 at 05:47 PM

A: Lot of traffic around the stadium -- rush hour in downtown. They'll be here for warmups.

What's is the expected Crowd?

Sorry for those of you not awarerandy thought it would be nice to have a private screening just hours before the game instead of preparing for the game itself.

Last week was last week. Tonight is tonight. If you are a real 'Cane, then you will get behind the team and root for them instead of bickering about something that happened in the past. Enough talk. It's time to play.
It's All About The []_[]

Who's going to cover the T.E.s ? and will those L.B.'s be able to cover and stuff the run with Pitts very good R.B. as well ?

McCarthy is excellent in coverage. Spence And C maC are great run blitzers and Spence is the superior pass rusher.

I see that the psycopath is once again carrying on conversations with himself by using various screen names in an effort to disrupt and destroy this blog as he did at the Sun Sentinel and every other Canes blog he WAS permitted to infect.

While he has temporarily curtailed his racist remarks...it's only a matter of time before he cranks the hate back up again.

One screen name--one IP address--problem gone!

Most every Canes site has banned this troll, why does this site continue to allow his idiocy?

was at the game last time the u played in pitt. if the canes run tonigbt they win.

here we go

need to run the ball

Drop no. 1

sick

WTG canes. gut the Panthers!!!

bailey lookin good

henderson is HUGE

good throw, DB made a play

Why Jacory why?

Here goes Harris with his 1st interception of the night....comon Whipple get off those plays the kid can NOT do it...just hand it off and win the fricken game on the ground.

jacory blowing it again hope he doesnt give the game away

Weak arm caused the pick

OMG why do people on this board want to continue comparing Jacory to Dorsey. That is a joke. Dorsey Had 2 bad games in 4 years. J12 has had 5 or 6 bad games in the last two seasons. Let J12 be himself. He will never be Dorsey but then again no one has ever been.

Dorsey had an NFL team around him. What does Jacory have?

Why does Harris throw like a girl?

We need a real quarterback1 Who is in line?

Why does Harris throw like a girl ?

dr pinkus there is no weak arm, weak brain

Curse Pog is a virgin loser. He hates himself but there is nothing he can do about it.

Dang! you MOFO's act like j12 is the only player miami has on the field. This is a team sport. Be a fan and not a coach, shrink, hater, racist and ....just be a fan!!!! isnt are motto "all about the U" thats support all these players. I cant see how all of you (mentioned above) enjoy college football season. Trust me this team is fine!

If Jacory ever looked off a receiver they all would be open...He looks right where he throws...

Ok that was a stupid pick with the team having good field position.

I think its time to weed out richard gordon. this team is playing real sloppy, real sloppy, good thing the defense is on point tonight, jacory has already made two stupid interceptions, this team is in trouble, we're heading to clemson next week.

Oh look! Another weak arm moonball.

INT30

He should never ever ever throw deep again. That green sleeve ain't helping Japicky

need a new QB

ok I'm really starting to lose confidence in jacory, we need to depend more on the running, turn this offense into a navy or georgia tech passing game.

ok great job, on 2nd and 28 the defense finally makes a mistake, let them score before the end of the half with the momentum in their favor and them getting the ball in ter 2nd half. sloppy sloppy sloppy. don't let the sloppiness from the offense transfer to the defense.

Just hoping for a great special teams and defensive game cuz the O is not doing it!

UM is dominating this game. Don't know what you people are whining about.

JAPICK6 at it again. We will not win anything with this guy at QB. Shannon looks constipated again and once again JAPICK6 is not talking with the coaches to see what needs fixed.
What a joke, we should be blowing this team out.

OK, I know a couple of people have already commented on this tonight but please regardless of team talent don't ever make a comparison between Jacory and Ken Dorsey ever again.
Dorsey's true So. year went 25 TDs against 5 INTs. Jacory now has 6 picks through 2 1/2 games. Think about that.

Japick6 at it again, 2 INT's. This guy is terrible. We need to recruit a real QB, unfortunately no good QB's will come with Shaniqua as coach.

I'm done with Jacory. Simplify the playbook, no one else to replace him. Too careless

Jacory is killing us. STOP throwing the ball down the field. RUN the ball and take the short and intermediate routes that they are giving you. Jacory does not have a strong arm. He is more Chad Pennington than Brett Favre. Start acting like it.

Score should be 35-0 except we have an incompetent coach and QB.

2 more interceptions. Is it not obvious that he can't look off his first or second option? Jacory is lacking the skill of improvisation. He's a telegraph machine. No excuses. The o-line is good, the defense is nasty, the receivers are playmakers. The backs are solid. It's time to call a spade a spade. No matter how this game ends. Jacory has a long way to go.

i swear to god, in 4 yrs, miami still has dumb penalties :too much time, dumb lineman penalties, no discipline on return blockers, etc! SHANNONS BOYS ARE SO FRICKEN DUMB! coaches arent too far behind! still no fake plays, no balls, no play that can score from 5 yards out!!!! HINT! at any level a play action roll out to the fricken tight end at ANY LEVEL will work 500 times in a fricken row! ask all of miamis former tight ends! FINALLY, jacori has gotten worse every year hes been here. call a spade a spade! he sucks and is NOW OUR ACHILLES HEAL! no doubt about it! hes losing games for us! shannons boy wonder is awful!my god...worst decisions since brock!

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