Miami looked like the much better team for the first 22 minutes.
Then they made a strategic error (compounded by poor execution to be fair) leading to a big play, lost the lead, and disintegrated before our eyes.
This time however, there was no quit in the kids from Coral Gables. They were able to fight back.
South Carolina, who lost 4 4th quarter leads coming into this contest, got a big break though when Duke Johnson's ankle was rolled causing him to fumble the ball deep in UM territory with 5 minutes to go.
A late TD made things close, but the Gamecocks held on 24-21.
Bad luck, bad strategy, bad execution, bad season.
The particulars below.
- Duke Johnson with another good day (132 rushing, 52 receiving) for the 'Canes despite the bitter end. His last?
- Ditto Denzel Perryman, who made two consecutive ridiculous stops, first on 3rd and inches where he flew over the pile to stop a QB sneak, then on 4th and inches where he crashed in from the left with the help of a swarm of Hurricanes, to get the enormous 4th quarter, 4th down stop. Good luck in the NFL DP.
- Raphael Kirby with the early TFL sparking a three and out. Chad Thomas made a huge one of his own on the next drive to force a FG attempt that was missed. Defensive penetration is always the best way to stop big backs before they get started. The front 7 spearheaded by Perryman was pretty stout today.
- Nice to see Stacy Coley involved in the offense. Manny Navarro made a real good point about the future....
Two guys who have to be on beast mode in 2015 for #Canes: Chad Thomas and Stacy Coley— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) December 27, 2014
- Great opening drive, highlighted by some nice reads by Brad Kaaya and excellent play calling by James Coley (perhaps the third and 7 run though could be questioned). Sustaining this type of excellence through out the game is something to work towards next season.
This is what OC James Coley does well. His opening scripts are among the best in America. He's brilliant at this— Cam Underwood (@UnderwoodSports) December 27, 2014
- After a terrible 2nd quarter drop, nice comeback in the 3rd by Malcolm Lewis with a 48 yard reception that set up Gus Edwards short TD run. He followed up and got the 2 point conversion from Kaaya as well, cutting the lead to 17-14.
- Deon Bush (who said he is 100% coming back next year), played like a man today.
- Nice 4th quarter TD catch by Phillip Dorsett to keep the 'Canes in it.
- Chris Herndon misses a block and Kaaya pays for it. Very much a young player mistake. With Miami up 6-0 it was costly as it stalled their third drive.
- Miami rushes 3, plays a soft zone behind it, and STILL gives up a 78 yard TD score from Dylan Thompson to Pharaoh Cooper and a 7-6 South Carolina lead. Just look below at how poorly the zone was being played as well. This one play turned around the entire game. Also what the heck has happened to Tracy Howard? He was not the one guilty of the blown coverage, but his effort to make a tackle was just terrible.
Five guys in zone coverage covering no one pic.twitter.com/LX8OK4O4So— Ale Narciso (@Ale_Narciso1) December 27, 2014
(Note: One possession later Damiere Byrd set up the second Cocks TD of the game by getting free for 35 on.... you guessed it, a busted zone. Live and learn? Nope, they played a lot of it in the second half as well.)
- The lull on O that seemed to be a regular thing for this team over the final 4 games. Predictable play calling, missed blocks, personnel confusion, etc.slowed things down for the entire 2nd and most of the 3rd quarters. Miami really stopped themselves more than anything today.
- Poor Duke! We'll know tomorrow whether he decides to come back. But what a snake bitten career for such an extraordinary player and terrific young man. It looked like his right ankle was rolled up on in the 4th quarter. A bad thing that couldn't have happened to a better person. Oh yeah, UM lost the ball as Johnson fumbled after as well. Critical turnover.
Duke Johnson helped up after trainer looks at his right knee. Walks off slowly under his own power.— Matt Porter (@mattyports) December 27, 2014
- Horse collar and a late hit on Johnson by Rico McWilliams uncalled in the first quarter.
- Too many unsportsmanlike conduct calls against both sides. Let the kids play zebras.
Drives have to be finished with TDs and not FGs if you want to be a good to great team. South Carolina, a team dead last in FBS in TFL, produces 6 in the first half against UM. Good grief. Second half play calling was too predictable. Lots of plays left on the field.
Kirby was all over the field. Big time second quarter sack by Anthony Chickillo. Tyriq McCord had a huge one of his own in the 4th.
But this team absolutely can not play zone. The pass rush is generally ineffective when it is not aided by a blitz, and the LBs/DBs far too often blow coverages.
Nice hit by Dallas Crawford nearly forced a fumble in the 2nd quarter, but UM did not recover.
This one should go under coaching too. 58 yard FG attempt at the end of the 1st half, and no one back to return it? Did we learn nothing from last year's Iron Bowl??
Another game where nothing extraordinary was produced by a unit was consistently disappointing this season.
There have been a lot of whispers that regardless of result, staff changes are coming after this one. This imminently winnable game did nothing that will dispel them.
Coach D'Onofrio had a nice game plan for a quarter and a half and then went zone and the wheels came off. Speaking of which, the team itself seemed to come unglued in all phases at this point as well.
To Al Golden's credit, they did play very hard for the entire game.
James Coley had that nice opening sequence, but then.....
"It's almost as if South Carolina knows what play is coming." -Dave Neal, ABC Play by Play man during the third quarter.
Midway through the 4th quarter, trailing by just 3... and you barely get the play off on 3rd and 8 and run off tackle for a loss, then late getting the FG unit out for a miss. You have to do better there.
On a side note stay tuned to SOTU as we break down Duke Johnson's decision tomorrow.
Before every game, Duke Johnson does a backflip. Last one as a Cane? pic.twitter.com/jbzupm9lxR— Matt Porter (@mattyports) December 27, 2014