Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Miami's Defense Can Give Wisconsin Fits

Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Miami's Defense Can Give Wisconsin Fits

Football

Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Miami's Defense Can Give Wisconsin Fits

When Wisconsin faced Miami in the Orange Bowl a year ago, it was a game where a rolling Wisconsin offense would face a playmaking Miami defense. This year, the same two teams meet but the stature of both teams is far from different. Both teams began the season in the preseason top-10 only to struggle to a 7-5 regular season and wind up in the second-tier Pinstripe Bowl in New York City.

That doesn’t matter anymore, because the Hurricanes still have a dominant defense (No.1 pass defense nationally, No.2 total defense) and it’s no secret that UW’s offense has been sputtering the second half of the season.

Miami ranks 92nd nationally in total offense and 108th in passing. Those struggles were evident in the Hurricanes’ last game, a 24-3 win over No.24 Pittsburgh. In this game, Miami’s freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry struggled from the pocket, completed 6 of 24 passes for only 52 yards. In three of the Hurricanes’ five losses Perry has been a part of, the most he has thrown for was 165 yards. In the other two games, he had thrown for less than 40 yards. Perry has had his moments, including a 224-yard, three-touchdown performance over Florida International.

The heroes of that win over Pitt was junior running back Travis Homer and the Hurricanes’ defense. Homer finished the game with eight carries for 164 yards and a touchdown, averaging an impressive 20.5 yards per carry. In the 11 previous games, Homer eclipsed 100 yards only twice, one being a 133-yard rushing game in a 20-12 loss at Duke. in five games this past season, Homer has been held to 4.3 yards or less per carry.

The only similarity from last year to this year between the two teams is Miami’s defense hasn’t skipped a beat, evident from its six sacks, 14 tackles for loss and three pass deflections against the Panthers. Junior defensive lineman Joe Jackson led the charge with six tackles (five solos) and 2.5 sacks, with senior defensive back Michael Jackson following close behind with a pair of sacks. Looking again at their loss against Duke, the Hurricanes only managed a small portion of that number, notching a sack and five tackles for loss.

When the defense is doing well for the Hurricanes, the game becomes much easier for the offense to score. If the offense is not clicking, the defense takes it into their own hands in order for the team to win. The Hurricanes have a young offensive powerhouse with their running back and quarterback, comparable to the Wisconsin defense and its young secondary and defensive line. It will be up to senior linebacker TJ Edwards and senior safety D’Cota Dixon to rally their young teammates to a productive evening.

For the second straight year, Wisconsin’s offense will be tested by the Hurricanes, which is likely champing at the bit for revenge from last season. They will be coming in hungry for Wisconsin sophomore tailback Jonathon Taylor and sophomore quarterback Jack Coan. Taylor has the experience, but this will be Coan’s biggest test of his college career. Will he be able to handle the pressure that Miami will bring, or will he struggle?

Taylor will need to have a phenomenal game and UW will need to get more production out of its wide receivers and tight ends. Of course, this point is moot if Coan can’t get it done with his arm. With Wisconsin having a young defense, it is important for the offense to put points on the board to build some confidence. It the offense continues to falter; the Hurricanes will exact revenge.

More BadgersInsider
Home