September 7th. That was the date that every Canes fan was waiting for impatiently and that day was today. The Canes and the Gators at Sun Life Stadium, what could be better?
The rivalry might be put on hold after Saturday, but it's guaranteed, that nobody will forget this victory for a very, very long time. Sun Life Stadium had a new Canes attendance record for this game at 76,869 and that's not including about a hundred and thirty recruits for both the basketball team and the football staff.
I've been coming to Sun Life Stadium for a few years now, and I've never heard this stadium this loud in my life. Canes fans showed out since five in the morning and the Canes delivered once the game was completed.
As great as this win is for the program and for the season, the offense just simply didn't show up for most of the game. At one point the offense went out and achieved nothing. Literally nothing. Duke Johnson had negative yardage for most of the second half and Stephen Morris couldn't hit a receiver even if he wanted to. The offensive line got dominated by the defensive front of the Gators. The Canes need to go back to the drawing board during their bye week and try some new things out next week against Savannah State, because this performance just isn't going to cut it if the team wants to be a great team. As good as Morris is, and he really is as advertised, he just needs to zone in and get on the same page as his receivers. There was at least three plays where him and Phillip Dorsett just were not on the same page.
As far as the Gators' offense goes, they're also just as advertised. The like to control the clock and they did that, and by a lot Saturday. They had possession of the ball for 38 minutes and 20 seconds today as opposed to 21 minutes and 40 seconds for the Canes. Jeff Driskel had a pretty good game, but he just couldn't get the job done in the red zone, as his team turned the ball over five times today.
Do you remember all those people who wouldn't believe at the beginning of camp that this defense was a lot better than last year? Well, I don't hear those people anymore. I'm not blaming you for being pessimistic after the horrendous performance this squad put up last season, but with another year underneath their belt, this defense is for real. The Hurricanes defense totally outmatched the Gators' offense even though the Gators were on the field for most of the game. Every time the offense would get a three-and-out (and they had a lot) the defense would just come out and make big plays after big plays. Denzel Perryman is easily the man of the match for this game. Perryman had 11 total tackles and the force fumble during the first Florida drive that led to a Herb Waters 7-yard touchdown catch. Tracy Howard wanted to make a big play against the school he was first committed to and boy did he ever. He played shut down defense and we all know about the huge interception with 06:41 left to play in the game. Rayshawn Jenkins, Tyrone Cornileus, Thurston Armbrister, I could go on and on about the entire defense after this game. They were outstanding.
Florida's defense got out-dueled by the Canes defense, but don't take anything away from them, they are fantastic. Their secondary is tough as nails, Dominique Easley has first-round talent and their linebackers like to hit people. Vernon Hargreaves III will be a star for the next three/four years.
Like Tyriq McCord put it during his post-game conference, "We're thankful for Pat O'Donnell ... that's all I'm going to say about it" You should all be thankful for Pat O'Donnell because he is sensational. He averaged 49 yards per punt and if it weren't for a Artie Burns botched recovery, he would have pinned the Gators inside the 20 a couple of times this game.The only negative for the Canes special team is the allowed blocked punt in the first quarter. If you want to be a title contending team, that just can't happen. Other than that, Hats off to you, Mr. O'Donnell. Matt Goudis didn't get much of a chance to do anything today, but he converted in all three of his extra points.
The Gators have some trouble with their kicking game and it showed when Will Muschamp elected to go for a two-point conversion after the team's first touchdown. The Gators surely miss new Dolphin, Caleb Sturgis.
I don't think there was any major injury during this game, but I could be wrong. There was a couple of scares, though. Duke Johnson took a shot to the leg/hip area and he was shaken up for a couple of minutes and the Canes fans everywhere were ready to break down and cry. Rayshawn Jenkins who had the first interception, was shaken up a couple of times throughout the game, but he came back both times he was down. Rayshawn Scott was seen on a sling, but we already knew he would be wearing one.
So to wrap things up: No major injuries, defense played unbelievable, Sun Life Stadium was loud and packed, and the Miami Hurricanes beat the Florida Gators. Enjoy your Saturday night, Canes fans. I know I will.