I went back this morning and re-watched most of UM's resounding 30-6 win over Virginia Tech.
When I was able to take my eyes off of the stunning abilities of RB Duke Johnson, and the surprisingly effective and aggressive play of the defense, one thing stood out more than the rest.
Miami has a really good offensive line.
Check that, the 'Canes have a potentially exceptional and dominant offensive line.
And the even better news is that a lot of this group is going to be around for a long time.
I have to start individually with true freshman LG Nick Linder.
(Linder out in space below, setting up a huge Johnson run)
In a group that features a potential NFL 1st round draft pick in LT Ereck Flowers, and a seasoned and experienced vet in C Shane McDermott, Linder still stood out as arguably the best player in the group Thursday Night.
The 18 year old nicknamed "Baby Linder" (older brother Brandon is a former UM stand out now on the Jacksonville Jaguars) really did some next level stuff.
And by next level, I mean both in the skills he showed and how he got past the defensive line to linebackers out in space. He also showed a nice propensity to pull and execute cut blacks, with rare athletic ability for a guard. A move to tackle and/or center may be in his future. If he stays on the interior, he clearly has the toughness to make it work. Even the times where he did no push his man off the ball, or he gave ground to penetration, he regularly turned his man to create holes. The sky is the limit for this kid.
(Again opening a huge hole for Duke with a down field block)
Speaking of toughness, you have to love the way sophomore Danny Isidora has bounced back after a rough start to his season. After looking completely lost in Miami's season opening defeat to Louisville, he has really turned the corner. His play did not jump out quite the same as Linder's, but I am sure he graded out nearly as high. Isidora has a nasty streak to his game, and his technique is clearly improved. He is only going to get better, and like Linder could also perhaps play some at tackle, in time. More than likely his skill set leads to a highly effective college career at guard.
(Look at the push and the way everyone is sustaining blocks)
The veterans, McDermott, Flowers, and Jon Feliciano also had nice nights. Felicano, a natural guard, did get beat twice on passing plays (both resulted in catches for Duke Johnson nonetheless) at right tackle. But all three did great jobs controlling the line of scrimmage, and for the most part protecting Brad Kaaya on the rare pass attempt.
Give a lot of credit to UM O line coach Art Kehoe. This group has gotten miles better than what they were in week 1.
Prior to injury, Taylor Gadbois, was grading out as high as anyone on the unit. The sophomore Gadbois was also emerging as a team leader.
Freshman T Kc McDermott is also out with injury. The former 5 star prospect was also improving before going down with a leg injury.
We have not even mentioned true freshman Trevor Darling, who can also play both the G and T spots.
The future seems set for a unit that will return Linder, Isidora, Darling, Gadbois, the younger McDermott, and potentially Flowers (should he forego the NFL).
That means a lot more games like Thursday Night.
Come to think of it the present is looking pretty good as well.
(Miami's offensive line opened some HUGE holes all night Vs VT)
And if the hogs up front continue to play the way they are now, Miami fans may finally have a team to compare to the historic one of UM's fabled past.
Stay tuned for more 'Canes football coverage right here on State of the U.