The Miami Hurricanes had their first test of the season versus the Louisville Cardinals on Labor Day night. I will be taking a professor-like approach by handing out grades based on performance for each position, along with coaching. Unfortunately, the scoreboard suggests that a few of these grades will be on the low-end of the grading scale.
True Freshman Brad Kaaya finished 17 of 29 for 174 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Obviously these stats are not good but I’ve got to defend Kaaya here. In my opinion, Kaaya wasn’t set up to succeed in this game. The awful offensive line play along with unsuitable play calling from Coach Coley led to his demise. For example, on Kaaya’s first interception of the game I would have rather seen him roll out to the right instead of left to prevent any chance of him throwing across his body. It’s very difficult for even a veteren to roll out to his odd side and complete a perfect pass toward the sideline, let alone a true freshman quarterback. While I feel Kaaya’s play was mostly poor, I did see some effective throws as well such as: the wheel route pass to Duke, 4th down conversion pass to Berrios and touchdown pass to Walford. Give it time Canes fans.
Superstar running back Duke Johnson finished the game with 20 carries for 90 yards (4.5 yd avg) and had a long run of 24 yards. Fellow running back Gus Edwards had 3 carries for 1 yard (yikes!). If a running back of Duke’s caliber can’t quite get it going then I would have to put the blame somewhere else. Again, the offensive line was abysmal. The lack of a passing game had Louisville stacking the box, therefore, made it extremely hard for Duke and Gus to get it going. I was actually pleased with Duke’s 4.5 yard avg considering the circumstances.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
With Brad Kaaya struggling most of the night, the receiving core had a lack of production. Herb Waters led all receivers with 6 catches for 61 yards, tight end Clive Walford had 3 catches for 38 yards and a touchdown, Phillip Dorsett had a big catch for 39 yards, Stacy Coley had 3 catches that only netted 9 yards, and 4 other receivers had a single catch. I can’t really complain about the receivers, they did what they could when the ball came their way. It’s very unfortunate that we couldn’t utilize our most talented position group.
I’m not sure where to even start here. Bad. The pass blocking was bad. The run blocking was bad. Then there was the penalty on Danny Isidora (ineligible man downfield) that negated a big time pass from Kaaya to Duke that would have put the ball right outside the endzone. I had a feeling that the right side of the line would be weak with new starters (Isidora and Gadbois) but there is no excuse for the veterans in Flowers, Feliciano and McDermott. The performance of the offensive line is very concerning, considering this was supposed to be one of our strongest position groups.
To my surprise the defensive line played pretty well. Sure, there were times that Will Gardner had all day to throw but that is expected when we had the 3 man front on the field. Defensive End Anthony Chickillo led the way with 6 tackles, 1 sack, and a forced fumble. The other starting Defensive End Tyriq McCord was solid with 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss. I was also pleased with the defensive tackle play, Ufomba Kamalu had 4 tackles and a sack, Courtel Jenkins had 4 tackles and Olsen Pierre had 2 tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry. If we can continue to get solid defensive line play, it bodes well for the entire defense. Longer drives on offense also bode well for the defense, which is what wore us down in the end. (hint, hint)
I was also pretty pleased with the linebackers as well. Denzel Perryman was a monster out there and was the star of the defense last night as expected. He finished with 12 tackles, 1 sack, 3 tackles for a loss and had a pass breakup. Thurston Armbrister started his campaign as breakout player of the team with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Raphael Kirby finished the night with 5 tackles and a fumble recovery. There were times where the linebackers were left to cover the speedy Louisville receivers which made them look bad but I would consider that good game planning on the Louisville coaching staff. The lone negative would have to be the attempt at covering Tight End Gerald Christian which is no easy task as he is one of the best Tight Ends in the ACC. Again, a gutsy effort by the linebackers, now lets all hope they stay healthy!
It was a quiet night for the defensive backs, which is both good and bad. Unfortunately there were no interceptions on the night. None of the Louisville receivers really broke out. Louisville tight end Gerald Christian was their leading receiver with 6 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown, followed by Eli Rogers with 5 catches for 65 yards and James Quick with 3 catches for 40 yards. Our defensive backs combined for a total of 22 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Decent showing from the defensive backs but I would have like to have seen somebody step in front of a pass or force a fumble to change the momentum of the game.
It was an up and down night for special teams. The positive was punter Justin Vogel. Vogel averaged 46.8 on punts with a long of 56 and pinned 2 punts inside the 20 yard line. He did have a punt go off the side of his foot but luckily it took a positive bounce. Also, Kicker Matt Goudis was 2 for 2 on field goals both from 24 yards out. Then there’s the negative. The 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Corvin Lamb. The return by Lamb was an absolute momentum killer, as the Canes had just taken the lead for the first time. We definitely need to work on kick return coverage this week.
Ah, here we go. The playcalling by Coach Coley was horrendous. There was no rhythm. The plays were blatantly obvious. The plays called did not benefit a true freshman starting for the first time in a hostile environment. On offense we played with our tails between our legs the entire game. The play calling on offense has to change or we will lose a lot of football games. I am hoping the next two games versus lesser opponents will give Coach Coley the green light to open the playbook and let Kaaya do his thing and gain confidence.
When it comes to Coach D’Onofrio, I still don’t agree with his scheme but his defense did make plays and actually did enough to win the football game. Adjustments still need to be made in time.
Coach Golden is the main man and needs to take charge because ultimately this all falls back on him.