2020 By the Numbers: Miami vs. NC State

2020 By the Numbers: Miami vs. NC State

Stefan Adams
With Miami set to take on NC State tonight, CIS took a deep-dive and compared both programs. How do the teams match up in key areas of the game, which players were recruited by the other school, and how does the series history shake out? Let's find out.


Miami Rush Offense vs. NC State Rush Defense

After a monstrous start, Miami’s running game has slowed down massively over the past three weeks, and they are now 55th nationally of 115 FBS teams with 169.5 ypg. While QB D’Eriq King continues to churn up grass with his legs (50.0 rushing yards per game), RB Cam’Ron Harris has been stymied with just 35 yards on 28 carries (1.3 ypc) over his past three games, and complained about playing time after seeing just 1 carry in the second half of UM’s win over UVA last game. Miami’s OL has also had trouble getting push up front, and has allowed defenders to break into the backfield with alarming consistency lately (12.3 TFL over past 3 games). With the Miami run game in flux, the perfect cure could come this week in the form of NC State’s run defense, as they are 77th nationally in allowing 182.0 ypg and just let up 326 yards on the ground in their last game vs. UNC. Still, sophomore LB Payton Wilson has had a strong first half of the season, leading NC State in tackles with 53 and he has also recorded 5.5 TFL and 2 INT. Like with past opponents, NC State’s defensive strategy will certainly be to stack the box to try and limit UM’s run game, and the Canes have not shown the ability to overcome that lately.

Advantage: Even

NC State Rush Offense vs. Miami Rush Defense

NC State’s running game has been unspectacular overall in 2020, as they are 82nd in the country with a lowly 131.8 ypg on the ground. Junior RB Ricky Person (4.6 ypc) and sophomore RB Zonovan Knight (5.9 ypc) split carries pretty evenly; despite a limited output, the duo has found some success at times and do have the talent to get loose when they have space. The Canes have been average at defending the run in 2020 (56th at 150.8 ypg allowed), and let UVA rip off consistent chunk runs in their last outing to total 185 yards rushing. However, NC State does not have a running threat at QB like the Cavs did, and UM completely shut down the last bad running attack they faced with no QB running threat in Pitt (22 yards rushing).

Advantage: Miami

Miami Pass Offense vs. NC State Pass Defense

UM’s pass game has ebbed and flowed this season, but finally had a true breakout in their last game vs. UVA, and that ultimately evens them out at 45th nationally with 244.2 ypg. Miami has shown the ability to be both efficient and explosive at times behind the arm of King (61.0% completions, 7.7 ypa, 11-4 TD-INT ratio), and will be getting one of the best TE’s in the country back in the lineup this week with Brevin Jordan (18 receptions) returning from a shoulder injury. WR Mike Harley is now the 12th leading receiver in the ACC (27 catches) after a career-high 10 catch game vs. UVA and will look to keep that momentum going vs. the Wolfpack.

The Canes’ big breakthrough last game came against one of the worst passing defenses in the country, and the NC State secondary isn’t much better, as the Wolfpack are 84th nationally in giving up 265.5 ypg. Redshirt freshman corner Shyheim Battle has flashed at times though, recording 24 tackles, 5 PBU, and an INT in 2020. NC State’s pass rush has been strong thus far, though, averaging 3.17 sacks per game, which is good for #22 in the country, and they are led by senior DE Daniel Joseph (4 sacks). That could be problematic for a UM offensive line that has struggled badly the past three weeks in allowing 14 sacks. If the Canes’ OL gives King even a semblance of a consistent pocket to operate from, he should dice up this weak last line of defense.

Advantage: Miami

NC State Pass Offense vs. Miami Pass Defense

The NC State passing attack has been the strength of their team this season, coming in at #34 in the country with 261 ypg. However, starting QB Devin Leary recently broke his leg, and backups Bailey Hockman and Ben Finley struggled to replace him in NC State’s last game vs. a bad UNC defense. It is expected Hockman sees the first snap, but it’s likely both will see time against Miami. The Wolfpack have some talent on the outside, but prefer to spread it around instead of focusing too much on one receiver. Still, the most likely WR to have an impact game is Emeka Emezie, a senior who currently leads the team in receiving in 2020 (23 catches) and has a productive 145 career receptions to his name. Senior TE Cary Angeline acts as a red zone threat, and has posted 5 TD’s on 12 catches through 6 games in 2020.

UM has been average at defending the pass, as they are 59th in the country in passing defense with 240.3 ypg. Miami’s pass rush has been hit or miss this season, but will be facing an NC State OL that is below average at protecting the QB (#66 at 2.5 sacks per game allowed). Even though UM’s secondary has struggled against the better passers they’ve faced this season, they’ve done well against the below average QB’s they’ve gone up against, and Hockman/Finley certainly fit into the latter category.

Advantage: Miami

Miami Special Teams vs. NC State Special Teams

NC State junior punter Trenton Gill has been a very good punter thus far in his career (46.6 yards per punt), and is currently 5th in the ACC with 44.8 ypp this season. NC State junior kicker Christopher Dunn is considered one of the best kickers in Wolfpack history through his first two-plus seasons, ranking fifth in total career FG’s made (49) and 4th in career FG% (86.0%); he is 5-7 (71.4%) with a long of 53 and is perfect on PAT’s this season. On the flip side, Miami has two proven and experienced specialists in junior punter Louis Hedley, who made the Ray Guy Award watchlist (3rd in ACC at 46.8 ypp), and senior kicker Jose Borregales, who had his perfect season snapped with a blocked FG last game vs. UVA but has otherwise been spectacular (10-11 FG’s, long of 57, 22-22 XP’s). The Canes are still trying to find an impact returner, as none of Mark Pope, Jaylan Knighton, or Xavier Restrepo have done much to this point. Thayer Thomas (16.3 ypr) has had some success returning punts for NC State this year.

Advantage: Even

Roster Notes

NC State players recruited by Miami (6):
WR Emeka Emezie, LB Louis Acceus, WR Porter Rooks, WR Jalen Coit, OL Sean Hill, LB Devon Betty

Miami players recruited by NC State (24): WR Mike Harley, OL Navaughn Donaldson, OL Kai-Leon Herbert, OL Zalon’tae Hillery, LB Waynmon Steed, S Amari Carter, WR Mark Pope, TE Will Mallory, OL John Campbell, OL DJ Scaife, DT Nesta Silvera, STRK Gilbert Frierson, S Gurvan Hall, DE Jahfari Harvey, DT Jalar Holley, LB Sam Brooks, CB Te’Cory Couch, S Keontra Smith, QB Tyler Van Dyke, RB Jaylan Knighton, WR Dazalin Worsham, CB Isaiah Dunson, CB Marcus Clarke, S Avantae Williams

NC State players from South Florida (6): WR CJ Riley (North Broward Prep), LB Devon Betty (St. Thomas), CB Teshaun Smith (Western), CB Cecil Powell (Piper), DE Claude Larkins (Chaminade-Madonna), CB Joshua Pierre-Louis (The Benjamin School)

Series History

Miami leads the overall series with NC State, 9-5-1.

**The Canes are on a two-game winning streak vs. the Wolfpack; the longest-ever winning streak in this series was 4 games, something done by Miami (1981-2004).

**The largest margin of victory in this rivalry is 38 points, something done by Miami when they defeated NC State back in 1982 by a score of 41-3.

Last Time They Played

Behind Mark Walton’s 3 TD runs, the Hurricanes came out on top against NC State during the 2016 season by a final score of 27-13. Walton’s final TD run iced the game with just over 2 minutes remaining in the contest.

**Miami QB Brad Kayaa went 22-38 for 286 yards, most of which went to a true freshman Ahmmon Richards (9 receptions, 117 yards).

**Future NFL draft pick and NC State QB Ryan Finley had an underwhelming performance against the UM defense, completing less than half his passes (20-44) for 210 yards (4.8 ypa), no TD’s, and a third quarter INT to Miami CB Malek Young in the endzone.


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