The Miami Hurricanes have found success with tempo this season, playing fast and scoring quickly to become the second-best scoring offense in the ACC and 16th in the NCAA.
But the Hurricanes’ defense, who leads the country in tackles for loss and is fifth in the NCAA in scoring defense, will face one of the best tempo teams in the country this week when North Carolina comes to Hard Rock Stadium at 3:30 p.m., ET on Saturday.
UNC’s offense is talented and deep and they play fast. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz knows the Hurricanes will need to stay alert as the Tar Heels will look to push the pace.
“The first thing is getting lined up,” Diaz said. “Their tempo will be as fast as anything we have seen this year. They are a team that executes at a very high level. They have great running backs and receivers and they have tight ends that do an excellent job as both blockers and receivers. And of course they have a talented quarterback who orchestrates the entire offense. So they are very similar to the challenges presented last week, in the fact that they are a very balanced team being able to both run and throw the football.”
“But the biggest challenge that they will present will be the tempo,” Diaz said. “Because the questions our guys will face will be are you walking around when they are set to snap the football, are your eyes not in the right position and can we make plays on the ball downfield? We know they will pass the ball down the field often and it will be a great challenge for our guys going against a couple tall wide outs that can go out and get it.”
Miami’s defensive backs will be tested by Carolina’s passing attack, but senior Corn Elder looks forward to the opportunity to rise to the challenge.
“It’s going to be fun to face them,” Elder said. “We will get a chance to make a lot of plays. “We are all out there competing and making each other better every day in practice and in the games. When we see one of us make a play, then we all want to go make plays, too. We just have to be ready.”
The cornerbacks were considered an unknown commodity coming into the 2016 season. Elder was the only returner with extensive experience, having played in 36 games over his first three years at Miami, so he took a leadership role in mentoring his younger teammates that were about to step into key roles this season.
“It’s always fun to be a leader and help the younger guys out,” Elder said. “It feels good to see their improvement. I’ve seen us all get a lot better from the summertime to now. Everybody is working hard and trying to get better every day.”