That's what the Miami Hurricanes need to focus on this Saturday to take home their first conference win.
The Miami Hurricanes, who many thought wouldn't lose three games all season, have now lost three straight games and are 2-3 at .500, but hope is on the horizon.
The Hurricanes looked stronger than usual in their recent loss to North Carolina. Even if they lost that final, it was arguably their most encouraging offensive game of the year, led by quarterback Tyler Van Dyke with 496 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Canes will now face Virginia Tech in another ACC match and the stakes are high. Miami has a record with its first conference win and first road win at the same time. But a loss would send them to 2-4 and put them right back to where everyone thought they would be. It might not have been a pivotal game for the Caneys earlier in the year, but it really is now.
Here's what the Hurricanes must do to claim victory.
Become a red belt
Miami's offense has garnered a lot of attention this year, and with good reason in most cases, but that doesn't mean they've lacked ball-moving skills. You just can't convert these counters into units. Again and again, the women failed in the red and settled for field goals or worse. You just can't make the 70 and 80 yarders jump in three points or less.
Against both Texas A&M and North Carolina, the Hurricanes made more trips to the red zone, which wasn't just about football. Had they capitalized on some of those missed opportunities, Miami could have been a 4-1 football team and the season would have taken a completely different tone.
Virginia Tech has dropped more than 40 points in each of their last two games, so the Hokies seem like the perfect opponent for the Canes to work on.
Protect QB Tyler Van Dyke
Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke looks like his old self after his nearly 500-yard game against North Carolina. There is still some catching up to do, but for the most part Miami have their player in the middle. Now Cue must focus on giving him what he needs to succeed: time.
No, no more development time, but more time in your pocket for each game. The Tar Heels sacked him twice and added five more quarterbacks over the weekend. However, Van Dijk held his ground and shot well under pressure. However, these hits and runs are both mentally and physically taxing.
In addition to the actual bags, there is a need to improve the dimensions of the bags. A pocket collapse last Saturday resulted in several passes being abandoned or altered at the line, including the last pass that ended in an interception, and that couldn't happen.
Stay tuned for the big shows
The Hurricanes' defense mostly played well on the field. The only problem is that when they hit, they hit hard .
The Canes defense seems to be burning with the desire to rush for 50 yards and sometimes more every weekend. Aside from those ties, they've generally done a good job stopping offense, with the exception of Middle Tennessee State. But all those third-down stops and turnovers don't matter much if they're giving up a 75-yard scoring drive.
Of course, part of that has to do with DC Kevin Steele feeling more comfortable in that scheme. But missed tackles played a bigger part in Miami's "big game" troubles than anything else, especially among linebackers and quarterbacks. The Hurricanes looked better against the Tar Heels in that regard, but there is still a long way to go before the Canes' defense can reach its full potential.
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