In almost every game, good things will happen and bad things will happen. This post will be a recurring feature after each game, an easy way to break down some specifics. We'll address offense first, defense second, and special teams when necessary.
- The passing game far exceeded expectations. Stephen Morris was poised at quarterback, finding open receivers over the middle and making strong, accurate throws. It's hard to believe that he could lose his job after his performance Monday night. Allen Hurns and Tommy Streeter— both of whom were tapped as the breakout stars of off season practices— turned in solid and encouraging games.
- For as much as we were lead to believe that Jedd Fisch's offense would be grounded in a conservative, protective scheme, Miami consistently picked up big chunks of yards through the air. Hurns averaged a hair over 17 yards a catch, with Streeter clocking a solid average of almost 14 yards a reception. The passing game was also supposed to rely heavily on the running backs and tight ends, but that turned out not to be the case, at least against the Terps: the Canes backs and tight ends had seven catches for only 34 yards.
Lamar Miller obviously lived up to his billing. His 41-yard touchdown was the most electrifying play of the night, and if anything his 18 carries was probably too low.
- The offensive line wasn't perfect, but Joel Figueroa at least showed that he may actually be worthy of starting at left tackle this season.
Fisch called a good, balanced game with an appropriate number of runs and passes, but his play call on fourth down that led to Stephen Morris' first interception was almost shockingly bad. Morris had a good game all night surveying the field, so it was both dumb and surprising for Fisch to call a play that had Morris looking at one option. Not to mention that the route (a short curl route right at the first down marker) was obvious and uncreative for the situation, and was poorly suited for the climate (the route calls for a quick plant and turn by the receiver, which is exceedingly difficult in a torrential downpour).
Mike James had a very good season last year, and is clearly very talented. That said, he couldn't really find any holes against the Terps, averaging 2.8 yards a carry with a long rush of nine. Regardless of how good James does (and he will pick it up), if Lamar Miler's YPC continues to hover around 6, James' carries may have to be cut a bit, despite his talent and the desire to keep Miller fresh and healthy.
Penalties and general disorganization were addressed here. Needless to say, both need to be fixed, and quickly.
Uh... well, the defense did only give up 19 points, which considering the circumstances, is actually mildly impressive. The defense really hardened inside the red zone (most likely because there was no threat of Maryland stretching the field), but we'll see if that was merely good fortune, or if it's something that they can carry throughout the season.
Though no individual player truly stood out, of the replacement starters Andrew Smith was the most active throughout the game, hurrying the quarterback a few times and standing up surprisingly well against the run.
Almost everything? Most notably, Maryland QB Danny O' Brien diced the Canes apart with ease. The worst news is that there's very little help coming to the Miami defensive backfield. Ray Ray Armstrong doesn't return for three more games, and unless JoJo Nicolas is secretly a lockdown cornerback, it may be a long year on the outside.
Speaking of cornerbacks, clearly the Miami coaching staff is terrified of them. Canes DBs started the game so far off the receivers that it sometimes felt like they were in another zip code. Maryland smartly took advantage of this by throwing a mind numbing amount of wide receiver screens, which Miami didn't adjust to until the second quarter.
The Miami pass rush looked worse than it probably was because the Terps were throwing so many quick, short passes, but there was little pressure on the passer. Blitzing didn't help either.
Jimmy Gaines played himself into a starting job, but he didn't have a stellar game on Monday. He was out of position a few times and also whiffed on some tackles. As the man in the middle of Miami's defense, neither of those two things can become a habit.
If you subtract Miami's ill fated Music City Miracle homage at the end of the game, they averaged just over 24 yards a return on Monday night. If they can keep this up, it would obviously be a huge boost across the board, not to mention that Maryland was squib kicking as early as the third quarter. Lamar Miller also seemed on the verge of breaking one for a touchdown.
Conversely, the Terps averaged only 15 yards a return, which was a huge margin in Miami's favor. Eduardo Clements also seemed to be all over the place on kick coverage in the mode of Damien Berry, which is not surprising considering that his move from running back to safety and back is slightly reminiscent of Berry's time at UM.
Jake Wieclaw (pronounced WHY-claw, apparently) hit a pressure field goal in the fourth quarter and was clean on extra points
Dalton Botts shanked his first punt, though we'll give him a pass on account of it being his first with the team
This is a bit nitpicky, but Wieclaw does seem to have a pronounced hook in his kick. It was obvious on his extra points, and a few of his kick offs were dangerously close to being hooked out of bounds. We'll see how this one plays out