As good as the Hurricanes are feeling about being 2-0 and ranked in the Top 25 poll again, there was plenty of work to be had during the team's bye week last week and plenty more the team is focusing on heading into Saturday night's game against Savannah State.
Sure, the Tigers are 55-point underdogs -- maybe the ultimate FCS underdogs in college football with blowout losses to Florida State (55-0) and Oklahoma State (84-0) in recent years. But Miami wants to get better, especially on offense where new offensive coordinator James Coley is trying to get quarterback Stephen Morris and company back on track.
The focus since the team's win over the Gators has been improving the offense's third down conversion percentage, currently ranked 120th out of 123 FBS programs (5 of 25, 20 percent). Morris, meanwhile, ranks 89th in passing efficiency (115.3). A year ago he finished 50th (138.07 rating).
"This last week was all about communication with our players up front and in the perimeter, just understanding what different things can happen [on third downs]," Coley said. "Everybody early in the season has the wrinkles they do. Sometimes when you get some curveballs you have to be able to adjust."
One example of a curveball breaking down communication against Florida was when Morris threw a pass toward Dorsett he didn't even turn around and look for. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground. It was still the kind of mistake that not only frustrates fans, but coaches and players too.
"That's stuff we've been really focusing on in practice, giving them all the wrinkles [a defense might do] -- even if they don't do it," Coley said.
Aside from a few deep shots the Hurricanes took against Florida, Coley and Morris both said Miami's offense has been pretty conservative so far and has been holding back a lot of their playbook. Morris said against FAU, for instance, the team only ran variations on "three or four" plays the entire game.
"It was frustrating because the defense gets used to those same plays," Morris said. "For us, our biggest thing is, let's execute it. Obviously there are lot of things we haven't called and won't call for Savannah State and we'll hold off for other games, but our biggest thing is we have to execute what's being called."
Morris said regardless of who the Hurricanes are playing Saturday -- even a 55-point underdog, "championship teams don't care who they're playing."
"Going off my last two games there is a lot of things to improve on and work on," Morris continued. "That's the thing about it. We're only two games in. Let's take what we did in the bye week and continue to grow."
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> Coley said receivers Stacy Coley and Malcolm Lewis have responded well in practice over the past week.
"Stacy, it's a whole new language," Coley said. "He's coming in from high school, it's a whole new grind. He's got these classes he's taking, they're college level classes ... he's coming to practice and he's sore. The guy at the corner now is 200 pounds, not 165 like he saw in high school. So it's physical. What I saw from him is the push, he's really pushed himself. He's a smart kid, very instinctive.
"Malcolm, coming off that injury, his whole deal is being in condition to endure the entire practice. He's going to be sore at times. It's hey, you're running that route at 12 whether you're sore or you're tired."