Well, that was.....interesting. And exhilirating. And maddening, all in one. Three and a half hours after kickoff, the Canes started their 2012 season off with a bang, and a much stronger start than they had in the actual game. Boston College jumped out to a 14-0 lead, manhandling the Canes' defense. Then, Miami awakened and exploded over the next three quarters, outscoring the Eagles 41-18 the rest of the way. And, as usual, I took in the action with the company of a friend and some cold pints of beer. The more I drank, the better the Canes performed.....and the faster Duke Johnson seemed to run. Guess the latter was true and had nothing to do with the beer, but still.
Some high and low points from the win...
Glass Half Full
Duke Johnson - Welcome to Duke Johnson, America. Yeah, I meant to write it like that, because it's hard to remember a young player having such an incredible impact in his first game. Or a player that makes you giggle like a school girl when you think about having him for at least the next 3 seasons (at least I did on my bar stool next to a group of Gator fans....and the Gator fans even were outwardly impressed with the performance). Duke went for 135 of Miami's 208 rushing yards on only 7 stinking carries with a pair of long touchdowns. He even gave those allegedly superior BC linebackers a head start on his first TD run, stumbling out of the backfield, but finding his legs and using them to fly past everyone to the end zone. Then he did it again in the third quarter to give the Canes their biggest lead at 31-23. It's one game, yes yes yes, but Miami appears to have it's next great thing in the backfield.
Denzel Perryman - A pick-six to tie the game and had a couple of slobber-knocking hits. A good first step for a guy Miami needs to be outstanding if they're going to take a step forward this season. As an aside, the defense improved significantly in run support (3.1 ypc allowed) after the first-two-drives-of-which-we-do-not-speak.
Glass Half Empty
441 - the number of passing yards Chase freaking Rettig rolled up on Miami's defense. BC took advantage of gaping holes in the middle of Miami's zone, with seam patterns behind the linebackers, deep ins ahead of the DBs. Blown assignments. Too much of a cushion. And the biggest problem, being that Rettig could have set up a lawn chair and binoculars to find his receivers, because.........
Pressure- .....there wasn't much push from the front four. Anthony Chickillo, Tyriq McCord, Olsen Pierre, and the Miami front four struggled to make life tough for Rettig. No sacks generated, and they weren't able to flush Rettig out of the pocket enough. One of the big issues of this team coming into this season doesn't appear to be much changed. Chickillo appears to be the most suited to become Miami's best pass rusher, but he was ushered away from the ballcarrier by the BC left tackle far too often. Tyriq McCord looked like a true freshman playing his first game, getting abused on occasion by the right tackle in the first half. Rettig took a hard shot on a blitz in the second half and struggled to get up, but he was otherwise mostly undisturbed.
Mike James - I love a physical brand of football as much as the next guy, and James is the guy on this roster you would put in that role, but any carry that Duke Johnson doesn't get now is going to irritate me. Yep, irrational knee-jerkism. One game and I sound like I'm ready to toss out the baby with the bath water, but it's impossible to deny what Duke can do and what James can't. James was unspectacular (14 carries for 50 yards) with no run longer than 11 yards, but I don't expect to see James being supplanted from his starting role immediately. Still, it's clear who is the alpha male in this backfield, and more Duke and less James should be the story going forward.