Miami football sets its eyes on high powered Syracuse offense

Photo credit: Josh White

The Hurricanes are climbing up the national polls.

After beating Florida State and Georgia Tech in the closing seconds in back-to-back weeks, Miami finds itself ranked No. 8 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

UM starting quarterback Malik Rosier hopes the Canes won’t need a game-winning drive in the final minutes to beat the Syracuse Orange – a matchup that is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Oct. 21, at Hard Rock Stadium.

“As slow as we’ve been starting the first couple halves the last two games, we can’t let that happen again,” Rosier said. “These guys at Syracuse, if you watch them, I think the first two drives they wound up putting 14 points on Clemson. So these guys can score. They can score at any moment.”

Syracuse is coming off an impressive upset win against the defending national champions and then No. 2-ranked Clemson, defeating the Tigers 27-24.

Hurricanes players watched the Orange’s noteworthy victory in a hotel before their battle with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets last weekend.

“Our guys were watching it live and saw for themselves what was about to come up this weekend,” head coach Mark Richt said. “I didn’t have to really explain much of anything.”

Cuse is known for its up-tempo offense. It is a unit that ranks No. 2 in the nation in plays per game at 87.8 and No. 15 in total offense.

So, UM has to prioritize conditioning once again.

“Their team can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re not prepared for it,” sophomore linebacker Zach McCloud said. “If you don’t watch the film and take them lightly, they’ll take advantage of you.”

Syracuse’s offense is run by junior dual-threat quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey is No. 11 in the country in passing yards with 2080 and has 20 total touchdowns this season.

Dungey is a gunslinger with a strong tendency to throw down field early and often. He has developed a strong rapport with Miami native and senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael, who ranks No. 2 in the nation in reception per game with 8.9 and No. 3 in receiving yards with 802.

Syracuse junior wideout Ervin Phillips has also turned heads and is tied for No. 5 in the country in reception per game with eight.

While the Orange’s offense has displayed impressive performances week in and week out in 2017, it is Syracuse’s defense that has grabbed the attention of Richt.

“Their defense has improved by 14 points per game to this point in the season to where they were a year ago, which is a monster change,” Richt said. “You can see why. They’re super fast, physical – they bring it to you.”

The Hurricanes will be without redshirt senior cornerback Dee Delaney for the second-straight game because of a knee injury.

Miami expects freshman offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson (foot), sophomore linebacker Michael Pinckney (chest), junior safety Sheldrick Redwine (undisclosed) and receiver Ahmmon Richards (hamstring) to play.

Miami aims to remain one of the few undefeated teams left in Power Five college football and continue to rise in the national rankings.

“We’re going to take them as seriously as every team we play,” UM starting running back Travis Homer said. “Every week is the biggest game of the year, so we’re going to come out of here prepared.”