(19) Miami (FL) 31

(2-1, 0-0 ACC)

Pittsburgh 3

(1-2, 0-0 ACC)

Coverage: ESPN

7:30 PM ET, September 23, 2010

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

1 2 3 4 T
#19MIA 7 3 7 1431
PITT 0 0 0 33

Top Performers

Passing: J. Harris (MIA) - 248 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: D. Berry (MIA) - 21 CAR, 87 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: T. Benjamin (MIA) - 6 REC, 96 YDS, 1 TD

Miami-Pittsburgh Preview


Randy Shannon hasn't typically been one to unleash a verbal tirade on his players, but that's exactly what the Miami coach did after what he felt was an unacceptable performance.

Twelve days later, he'll find out if it worked.

The 19th-ranked Hurricanes try to make amends for a mistake-filled effort as they visit former Big East rival Pittsburgh on Thursday night, when Shannon takes on close friend and former boss Dave Wannstedt.

Miami (1-1) was practically flawless in its season opener, getting an outstanding effort from quarterback Jacory Harris in a 45-0 win over Florida A&M.

The Hurricanes were anything but perfect Sept. 11 in Columbus, where Harris' nightmare day and eight penalties doomed their chances of knocking off No. 2 Ohio State. The junior was intercepted four times in a 36-24 loss, and Shannon's subsequent locker-room rant sent a loud-and-clear message that his players had let a golden opportunity slip away.

"I've never been a guy that just goes off," the usually subdued Shannon said. "But they needed it at that time because I was frustrated. ... Ohio State is a good football team, a great football team, but we made so many mistakes we didn't give ourselves a chance."

Shannon's discipline didn't stop during his postgame speech. The fourth-year coach banned his players from using Twitter last week, something he insisted had nothing to do with the racially motivated hate message Harris received on the social-networking site after the loss to the Buckeyes.

The Hurricanes are still talking -- just in 140 characters or more -- and insist they're ready to use Shannon's speech as motivation against the Panthers (1-1).

"The thing about the coaches here is they're unlike a lot of schools, where they tell you whatever you want to hear," offensive lineman Orlando Franklin said. "This coaching staff, what they do that I love, they don't sugarcoat anything. It's up to you to get better. And I think (coach Shannon) was saying what we all were thinking."

Miami's coach will see a familiar face on the Heinz Field sidelines Thursday night. Wannstedt was Miami's defensive coordinator from 1986-88, when Shannon was a starting linebacker for a Hurricanes team that won the 1987 national championship.

Wannstedt later drafted Shannon while he was a coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys, then hired him as his linebackers coach in 2000 with the Dolphins.

"Randy's done a great job of getting talent in there, staying on the kids, graduation is important to him, all the things that someone from the outside might take for granted," Wannstedt said. "He's doing all those right things."

Shannon shares similar sentiment toward his old boss.

"(Dave's) a good football coach," Shannon said. "He's in it for the kids. He's done a great job at Pitt."

It hasn't been an easy month for Wannstedt's team, however. Pitt fell from its No. 15 preseason ranking after a 27-24 overtime loss at Utah to open the season, but the bigger problems have come off the field.

Freshman tailback Jason Douglas (DUI) and reserve offensive lineman Keith Coleman (aggravated assault) have been suspended indefinitely since the Panthers' 38-16 win over New Hampshire on Sept. 11. Both players were arrested, as was defensive end Jabaal Sheard in July for an off-campus fight.

On the field, the Panthers have received minimal contributions from perhaps their two best players. Defensive end Greg Romeus, the Big East's co-defensive player of the year in 2009, is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a disc in his lower back.

Sophomore tailback Dion Lewis is healthy, but the nation's leading returning rusher from 2009 (1,799 yards) has been held to 102 yards on 35 carries.

"Defenses are zeroing in on him," Wannstedt said. "It's not going to be easy any week."

The ground game has been the difference in Miami's current six-game winning streak over Pitt, a series that's been on hiatus since the Hurricanes left the Big East in 2003. Miami has rushed for 4.6 yards per carry and 17 touchdowns during the streak, while the Panthers have run for 2.9 per attempt and three scores.

Pitt is 1-10 against ranked, non-conference opponents since 1996.


Passing Leaders

B. Kaaya58.531982612
J. Heaps50.05100
C. Voytik61.32233167
T. Anderson61.115510

Rushing Leaders

D. Johnson24216526.810
J. Yearby865095.91
J. Conner29817655.926
C. Voytik1084664.33

Receiving Leaders

P. Dorsett3687124.210
C. Walford4467615.47
T. Boyd78126116.28
M. Garner1720111.82

Research Notes

Leonard Hankerson is clearly Jacory Harris' favorite receiver down the field, taking 31.4 percent of Harris' downfield targets since 2009 began. This season, Harris and Hankerson have connected well, and Pitt's defense would be wise to roll coverage Hankerson's way.
Jacory Harris has thrived this season against added defensive pressure, completing over 80 percent of his passes when opponents bring a blitz.

ESPN Stats & Information