Miami Hurricanes Week 10 Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Photo by Edwin Garcia


Miami, Florida – The Miami Hurricanes are back on the road traveling to Carter-Finley Stadium to play the NC State Wolfpack. UM hopes to string together a three-game winning streak after achieving overtime victories the past two weekends. Edging the Virginia Cavaliers 29-26, the Canes check in at 6-2 (2-2, ACC) among the middle of the pack. Miami’s stout defense and talented rush face an opposing team ranked near the bottom in total yards on offense, but are stingy against the run and only give up on average roughly 23 points a game. UM rumbles into week 10 amidst questions at the quarterback position. Tyler Van Dyke has been battling both inconsistency and injury. UM’s signal caller put up a poor performance versus UVA failing to reach the endzone, throwing two interceptions. He finished the afternoon with a mere 163 yards in the air.

The Wolfpack, meanwhile, are the latest team to deal a blow to the Clemson Tigers beating them 24-17. Coincidentally, NC State has had its own issues at QB benching their starter about a month ago. Looking to spark the anemic offense, Coach Dave Doeren announced the transition away from Virginia transfer Brennan Armstrong towards sophomore backup MJ Morris. Thus far, Morris’ top receiver is Kevin Concepcion. On the other side of the ball, NC State has a fierce linebacker that can really cause headaches Saturday night. Miami has won the last four meetings going back to 2012 their most recent being 2021 via a 31-30 squeaker.

Wolfpack

MJ Morris

Originally, coach Doeren planned to redshirt Morris. Due to the team’s struggles in the 13-10 Louisville loss, he was forced to make changes. Thus far the youngster has thrown for 596 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. Last week he generated 138 yards coupled with a pair of touchdowns. It may not seem much, however, but keep in mind Clemson’s defense is formidable even though they’ve now lost to two backup QBs.

Kevin Concepcion

Morris didn’t throw the ball often but that didn’t stop Concepcion from recording five receptions including two TDs, one of them being an impressive 72-yard strike. Closing out the game with 83 yards, the wideout was by far the top performer of the very limited air attack. Concepcion has been Morris’ preferred target kind of reminding me of how Xavier Restrepo acts as the safety valve for TVD. We are likely to see more of this. If Van Dyke does start, I wonder which duo will win the bout.

Payton Wilson

Now this guy can be trouble. Headlining the Wolfpack’s defense, Payton Wilson is NC State’s leading tackler. The linebacker has 89 tackles (nearly double the next person),  four sacks, three pass breakups, two interceptions including the pick-six against Clemson, and two fumble recoveries. Wilson is expected to play against the Canes. He exited the Tigers game late in the third quarter because of soreness. Both he and Concepcion were named ACC Players of the Week for their efforts against Clemson.

Hurricanes

TVD/Emory Williams

This is a situation few had foreseen at the beginning of the season. Yet here we are wondering if Coach Mario Cristobal should continue with Van Dyke or switch to Emory Williams. NC State did it although with (thus far) limited success.  Whether it’s stubbornness, blind hope, or just not wanting to change midstream Van Dyke should get the nod at NC State. Back in 2021, he threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns versus the pack. How many interceptions you ask? Zero.

Andy Borregales

Given how important the kicking game’s been lately it only makes sense to keep an eye on Andy Borregales. Nearly flawless for 2023, Andres has split the uprights with space to spare getting his team critical points that would otherwise see UM sitting at 5-3. The upcoming matchup may be another tight affair meaning whatever Borregales can give will be crucial whether it’s from the 20 or the 50. Gifted with strength and accuracy, fans have been very grateful for his contributions.

Mark Fletcher Jr.

What a nice return by Mark Fletcher. Although 11 carries for 47 yards is really nothing to write home about he literally carried Miami’s OT drive rushing three times with the last being the game-winning TD. If he is ready to rock and roll this Saturday I’d like to see the same amount of touches. In a scenario where Fletcher looks great, keep feeding him the ball. That will be a tall order for him and the rest of the running back corps particularly because of how good NC State has been against the run.

Prediction

There are some similarities between the two sides at quarterback. For example, the starters have struggled with one team opting to outright use its backup. Another is the potential for more activity from their tight ends. If Van Dyke gets the nod, I want to see which duo (Van Dyke and Restrepo/Morris and Concepcion) has the better evening. Say Williams gets the ball, the same simplistic scheme we saw versus Clemson could be carried out. Using the former, UM should win. Utilizing Williams the outcome is harder to predict. Regardless, the final score: Miami wins 27-20.

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