Last season it took Miami until the eighth week before they lost their first game. This season, Miami got outmatched in its first game of the season.
It would be easy to blame it on Brad Kaaya, the freshman quarterback, but it was not entirely his fault. UM's 31-13 loss to Louisville Monday night was a total team effort, although the defense played brilliant despite the fact that they never had a chance to breathe. Miami's high-octane offense did not convert a third down until the third quarter and went three and out on many occasions. Miami's defense looked much improved, but they were counted on for too much in the second half due to the ineptitude of the offense.
That's was how pathetic the Hurricane offense was in their season opener. Fans were putting pictures up on Facebook all day stating that a Category 5 storm was coming through Louisville. There was not even any wind. Not even a strong breeze.
Kaaya began his tenure as the starting quarterback and got off to a decent start as he finished the first half 8 of 12 for 84 yards and a score.
That was it.
In the second half, offensive coordinator James Coley put the brakes on and called too many running plays, between the tackles that yielded next to no yards, and Kaaya was effectively shut down for the evening. With play makers in his arsenal like Philip Dorsett (1 catch for 39 yards) , Stacey Coley (3 catches for 9 yards) and Malcolm Lewis (no catches), Coley chose to continue to run the ball and try to set up the pass. It didn't work. If Kaaya is going to drive the Ferrari, he has to get the governor taken off.
Louisville's secondary was rarely tested as the deep ball was non existent. They could have been texting each other and no one would have bothered them.
"It was tough, but we were able to grind it out," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "The players did a good job of studying what we wanted them to do and they played real fast. That was the difference in the game."
Kaaya finished the night by going 17 of 29 for 174 yards and the one score. He also had two interceptions in the second half. He was running for his life as the offensive line broke down in protection time and time again.
The offensive line, usually one of the strongest parts of the UM program, could not open up any holes for the running backs and Duke Johnson was getting creamed in the backfield. He finished the night with 90 yards on 20 carries, but when they needed to get 1 or 2 yards on third down, Hurricane backs would get smothered in the backfield as if the Cardinal defensive line knew the snap count.
Right guard Danny Isadora was called for too many penalties and his last one negated a 35 yard play that would have given Miami a first and goal inside the Cardinal five yard line. A score there would have put Miami back in the game. He was flagged for illegal man down field. He was wandering down field like he was looking for something. He had no business being down field. That was a mental error of biblical proportions.
Kc McDermott, who is a tackle, but worked at guard during the spring, should start the next game.
UM's defense, under pressure the last three years, played really well despite the fact that they never got off the field. Due to the lack of ability of the offense to garner a first down, the defense was called on to do too much. You cannot keep giving Louisville the ball and expect the defense to stop them when they cannot rest. The Canes yielded 143 yards to Cardinal running back Dominique Brown, but most of that came in the second half when they were tired and wilted.
Miami did cause two turnovers and created havoc for Louisville quarterback Will Gardner, who, despite a strong pass rush, went 20 of 28 for 206 yards and two scores.
Special teams let Miami down as they allowed a 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Corvin Lamb that took away some of the momentum that Miami built late in the first half.
Miami plays Florida A&M next week at Sun Life Stadium.