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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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why why why why why did Miami stop running Berry in that 3rd possession after that beautiful drive.

Why why why why why why DoesJ12 still throw the ball up for grabs???????????


Why Wh y I am exploding here.

UM should be up 30-0 right now.

What excuses does RS have for J12's decisions? Or is it Whipple forcing him to throw down fiedl/

After the 1st TD, they should have taken little steps, 1st downs, etc.


If they lose this game soemone has to get fired. Im sorry.

Wanny said thathis D was keeping Pitt in the game. Correction, Wanny, Jacoory is keeping you in the game.

Without the racist overtones, I am sorry, but I cannot support this guy anymore. I supported him against marve, i supported him last yr bc he was injured, but this kid just doesnthave it. he will nbever be a good qb. he will never be an NFL QB. he will fall to the wayside, like the Ryan Clements, Kenny Kellys, Kirby Freemans, and Kyle Wrights of our time- overhyped, all talk, all shoe, but no go,

Excuse me, but we need a QB

Travis Benjamin is not helping JH as a passer, not getting that separation to make easier throws.

Backups???? The way the first half went we will be lucky to win this thing by one point. I was really willing to give Harris the benefit of the doubt, but those two picks he threw in the first half were just sad. I think his IQ must hover around room temperature.

Waiting for the second half with a lot of anxiety. I sure hope it gets a lot better for us.

Jacory Harris is a bust. He has shown very little progress since he was a freshman. Will he ever learn to quit telegraphing his throws? He is on pace to break last years record for INTs. What a disappointment he has become.

Max, I appreciate your opinion but you're reaching here.

I really have given it my all defending Jacory but too much is too much.

The real question is whether Whipple or Shannon will let Jacory cost one of them their job.

I can't see how much worse any of the backups could be unless they're literally blind.

How many more ints does it take to say enough is enough.

I think Jacory is a good QB, but when you have someone pass as much as he does you are asking for ints. If Wipple is going to run a NFL type offrnse then the Canes need to open up the run first and then go to the passing game. Berry is avg. over 6 yards a carry, and with MIller, and James backing him up there is no reason that Jacory is throwing the ball more then 35 times a game. On one note though If I was Shannon, I would bench Jacory if he threw another int. anytime the rest of the year. The ints. he has thrown this game were absolutley not throws that should have been thrown.

Lemme guess, ALL of these comments are from gaytor trolls?

Harris is terrible. He'll be the man next year too.

orlandfincane must be watching another game. whipple and jacory jave been together on the sideline.

The guy covering Hank' is about 5'2" tall. It should be 38-0 by now Pitt blows.

Make sure to leave J30 in so he can further entrench his pick throwing legacy.

d pikus really must learn something about football

The way JH has been playing lately I am definitely convinced he is not the QB for this team. He tends to fkloat the ball alot and seems not to be able to handle the pressure well. He looks scared out their and I have lost all confidence in him. I think the team has also lost confidence in him. Randy Shannon needs to seriously start looking for a replacement next year or Randy himself will be replaced. This team is full of talent on both sides of the ball. We just need a leader that knows how to use it.

be nice if the o line would block

pinkus let us know, you are realy pitt fan

go canes go canes

Well...now all of you jerks that have been slamming Jacory have your wish...he could be gone for the season...buncha whinny numbskulls!

Now it's your turn...coach'em up brainyaks!!!

Everybody is quick to blast J12... but what about Figeroua not being able to block anybody! this guy gets beat by all quality D lineman! Seantrel needs to start at RT!!

Jacory simply needs to play better; however, there is no excuse for the racist comments. Be a fan of the team or find one that wins every week. Turn-coats like you fareweather fans are the true losers.

Real Cane fans don't disrepsect the coach and the QB. Just racist idiots in their trailers.

How can anybody call themselves a a Canefan, then turn around and hype up the Gators. 2010 Canes and the 2000 Canes cannot be compared to each other. Almost half of the 2000 team is playing in the NFL. Why do you idiots have to go racial. I'm sure it's the same chumps that talked crap about Dorsey when he struggled. I'd be willing to bet the haters are implants and not natives of the MIA. if you are go back to where you came from.

Manny, you thought Pitt could score 17 on the canes? Their running back averages 2 yds per carry. Only thing holding us back is interceptions. Someone tell JH to stop throwing into triple covers when they run man routes and someone tell coach whipple to stop calling those plays.

we need an o line that can run bock

this defense of ours is really good , speed , speed, speed , with some thump!!!

I agree ken dorsey was a much better qb then harris. We arent blaming wrs because we are babying jacory. At least im not. But 2 of his passes bounced out of the hands of wrs to defenders. U cant blame those 2 on him. Ok one of them is just as much him as benjamin. Sure benjamin went to block on pass play but jacory went and threw it anyways instead of just tossing it into the ground at his feet. So thats 50/50 on jacory at osu but if miami ran the ball more in first half they beat osu. This teams d is very good. Osu maybe scores 10 pts if not for starting every series in cane terriotry.

Nice win UM but nothing to have a giant block party on the bench about.

Pitt is dreadful. Clemson won't give up 8 sacks. Jacory is still throwing long balls on a high arc because that's all the strength he has.

Must be brutal for some of you "Canes fans" having to listen to Jesse Palmer talk up Jacory.

Jacory's father was quoted in the Miami Herald basically saying he has had enough of the BS from some Miami fans.

Jacory is a God in the 305 and furture recruits are watching the Miami fans slam Jacory, which doesn't sit well with them when you are tearing down a 305 hero.

Keep it up girls and you will see Teddy Bridgewater pull his committment from the Canes.

PS: I apologize to the real Canes fans as this post is not aimed at you. And to the racist with the many screen names who has been posting all the garbage tonight...your time is coming to an end soon.

Pinkus
Would you prefer the kids to just sit on the bench and show no emotion? Its a game that they just won 31-3 and they are having some fun. They dont have to be like you and be miserable after a victory. Some of these so called Cane fans amaze me. No matter what these Cane teams do its never good enough

I am so glad there is atleast one fan on this blog CANES FAN. all the other idiots on here are more worried about trashing Jacory on a blog rather than watching the game. We dominated tonight on all aspects. I love Jacory taking chances. He has a cannon for an arm in case you people wondered. sure his decision making isnt great all the time but he is a great QB for the canes

Let Bridgewater go somewhere else, the guy is a Jacory clone.

I'm 10x sicker than Jacory's dad. Do m a favor and don't police the blog.

Junkie
How many times have you seen Teddy play in HS?
If the answer is less then 5 please dont comment on what YOU want Teddy to do
Teddy is going to be a Cane whether you want him to be or not

Hey Junkie! How about you going someplace else?

No real Canes fan would EVER suggest Teddy go somewhere else or that Canes fan is a moron.

WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

Its always after a Cane game when you can scroll back and read the comments and realize they are the so-called fans of Miami. Its nothing but bashing of the players and coaches and what they are doing wrong. Heck even a few had complaints abour our D.
You just know those are the type to only wear Cane stuff when they win but wont wear it when they lose a game. Thats a bandwagon punkazz fan. The kind true Cane fans cant stand

We learned tonight that our defensive line is very physical, strong and athletic. The tackling across the defense was greatly improved and Sean Spence is back to his freshmen form, which is great news!

We also learned that our offensive line needs more work, most especially at the tackle positions.

Jacory looked very good in the second half throwing for two touchdown passes and went 8 for 10 with one passed dropped. He had two interceptions in the first half on long balls. Those passes weren't forced into double coverage, but were passes that our wideouts are going to have to fight for or become defensive backs to protect their QB. Either way, the Pitt defensive backs made spectacular catches on both picks (one was a one handed circus catch while falling backwards). ESPN's Jesse Palmer said he was very impressed with Jacory and pointed out his accuracy and touch on the ball was excellent. Unfortunately he took a brutal hit, but being so tough he came back into the game on the very next series (It's a Cane thing!), although he was clearly favoring his left shoulder for the remainder of the game. Hopefully this injury is not worse than it appears...don't forget this kid played the second half of last season with a broken thumb on his throwing hand.

Berry and Miller had a combined 118 yards...Berry is a beast and Miller is the second coming of Barry Sanders...ONLY FASTER!

And the biggest surprise of the night? The kick-off coverage looked pretty good, other than that head scratcher squibb kick that gave Pitt the ball at mid-field...Huh?

Our wideouts are also physical, strong (Benjamin?) and fast. These cats are going to do some big things. The question mark here is--when is Chase Ford going to show his ability to take over a game? Could be Clemson, which will be a huge plus for the over all offense.

All in all an excellent outing by a team that is going to get better with each game.

Go Canes!

Those are not UM fans, they are Gator fans. Don't be so naive!

Manny, clean this crap up. This blog was better when it wasn't a blog at all. If you don't want to do your job as a blog monitor, then find an intern at your paper (or a trusted servant like every other GD blog in the world) who will. Now that the Sentinel is MONITORING their blog, the crap has all come back over here.

Go 'canes!

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