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How long can the Miami Hurricanes live on the edge?

Ari Russell

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(Photo by Allen Eyestone/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

On Saturday the Miami Hurricanes yet again played in another game that required refilling your bet blockers prescription. The opponent this week was the Syracuse Orange, who were looking to win back to back games against top 10 teams in school’s history. The Orange played valiantly, but came up short. It took a Travis Homer 33 yard TD run and a defensive stop for the Canes to escape 27-19.

This is the third game in a row where Miami pulled out a close one. The previous two games required last minute comebacks. This one required a late game TD and a defensive hold, but still equally as nerve racking for the fans. One thing that we do know for sure is that Miami is great at late game execution. Seeing how they are able to move the ball down the field when it matters most shows the focus and resilience of this team. But it also opens up some question marks.

This week against UNC it’s unlikely we get a fourth close call. The Tar Heels are struggling this year and unless Miami has a complete breakdown on all levels, they should handle their business going away. UNC is a 20.5 point underdog. A close game would actually be an upset.

The concern won’t be this weekend, but will come when they take on 13th ranked Virginia Tech on November 4th and then 9th ranked Notre Dame on 11/11. In those games they are going to be required to play four quarters of football. Any slip up and these two teams can certainly inflict a lot of damage.

With all this said, the close games and ability to get wins in these tight spots, also reveals something about this team. They are unshakable. A few other things that should ease some concerns which are signs that these close games also have something to do with the effort and systems of their opponents than deficiencies with the Canes.

Ahmmon Richards dropped four passes in the first half on Saturday. The likelihood of that happening again is low and those drops were huge. That was likely more of a result of being rusty nursing that hamstring limiting practice time for several weeks than of something that will be a recurring issue.

The defense is also something that will be keeping them in every single game. Despite giving up yardage, the Canes defense are ballhawks, forcing four turnovers against Syracuse. They were able to sustain somehow on the Orange’s last possession despite enduring over 90 plays. They have stamina and they have depth and they are hungry. This defense will keep all games close despite what the offense is doing.

Perhaps one stat that has been overlooked but certainly a sign of why this team can afford to be in close games is the turnover margin. Miami has forced 12 turnovers on the season and have only given the ball away three times. That’s a 4:1 ratio which is quite impressive. All three giveaways were Malik Rosier interceptions, none of which were too costly or even bad decisions, more like overthrows. The fact they take care of the football certainly is a reason they are 6-0 on the season and 4-0 for the first time in the ACC.

Can the Canes keep up living on the edge? They probably can. In fact they are already battle tested and proven in this area. At this point if the game is on the line, the advantage will have to go to the Canes, despite giving their entire fan base a coronary.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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