Before I make the unpopular decision to mention some positives, let me start by saying that I was very upset with Miami's loss to Louisville. There are no excuses for a lack of execution of offense, bad penalties, and busted assignments on kickoff coverage. The Canes had chances to seize momentum early and weren't able to capitalize. Not counting the last drive in the final seconds of the 4th quarter, UM had the ball inside the UL 10-yard line on four separate occasions. Due to a combination of poor execution and very poor play calls, the Canes scored just one touchdown, settled for two short field goals, and turned the ball over on the fumble/backwards pass to Stacy Coley. When you are an underdog on the road, it's difficult to win without being efficient in the red zone.
Miami converted just 1-13 third down opportunities. That one stat tells the story of the game. The Canes ran only 56 plays and could never sustain a rhythm offensively. James Coley didn't give Brad Kaaya enough chances to make plays and continually called running plays against a Louisville defense that was stacking the box to stop Duke Johnson. The right side of UM's offensive line has to play better. Gadbois and Isidora struggled through much of the night. In order to be successful against the good teams on Miami's schedule, the play calling needs to become less predictable. Patience with this coaching staff is wearing thin and Al Golden needs to do a better job managing the game.
Reasons for Optimism
I've been saying all offseason that the defense would be significantly improved this fall. We saw signs of that on Monday night. Miami's defense allowed just 7 points in the first half and was let down by the special teams unit giving up a backbreaking kickoff return for a touchdown. The defense forced two enormous turnovers and set the offense up in scoring territory. Both plays came from Miami pressuring Louisville QB Will Gardner and the Canes made things difficult for him in the first three quarters. Denzel Perryman was dominant through much of the game and will have a huge season. Kirby and Armbrister made plays all night. Freshman DT Courtel Jenkins played very well and will be a big upgrade for the Canes at that position. Olsen Pierre played what I thought was his best game as a Hurricane, making several plays behind the line of scrimmage. Other than a few times where UM gave away too much cushion, the secondary played fast and broke well on balls down the field. Louisville racked up some yardage late in the game after fatigue, but overall, Miami's run defense was encouraging. UL RB Dominique Brown had 143 yards, but it took him 33 carries to get there. This defense won't be the liability we saw in 2012 and 2013. The unit kept Miami in the game tonight.
I wasn't surprised by the reaction of many Miami fans I interacted with during the game, but I was still disappointed. The negativity was relentless and I felt like the only one that cared that there are 11 more games on the schedule. I saw some people calling for Kaaya to be pulled, and some asking how bad the competition must have been for him to win the job. Both of those reactions to Monday's game are completely ridiculous. Fans were calling for Kaaya to start all throughout camp and the decision to go with him brought excitement and optimism to the program for the future. He's our guy now. Brad Kaaya showed signs that he will be a great quarterback for the University of Miami. He threw several balls downfield with accuracy and touch, and continued to stand in the pocket under pressure. Did he struggle at times with footwork and rush a few throws? Sure he did, but apparently the fact that he's a true freshman making his first career start on the road doesn't seem to matter to some people. Kaaya will make significant improvements as this season moves forward and I can't wait to watch him grow and learn from his mistakes.
Support this team. Go to the FAMU and Arkansas State games.
I cannot stress this one enough. Brad Kaaya needs reps and Miami's offense needs to gain some confidence heading into Lincoln in three weeks. The FAMU game is very important. The game is just four days away and it's a chance to build some positive momentum and forget about Louisville. Young guys will see the field and get their chance to impress. I'm convinced there is still playing time on the line at several positions - RT, DLine, CB, and Safety. Miami fans were pumped up for Monday night's game and ready for the season to begin. There are eleven games left and one game does not define a season. I'll be cheering the Canes on as they run through the smoke on Saturday night. There won't be enough people in attendance I'm sure, but at least I'll be watching the game with people who truly care about this program. If you can make it, I hope to see you there. If you want too see more positive Miami thoughts and weekly college football picks, I'll be there @JPickens15. Go Canes.
I started the season with an impressive 3-1 record on opening night, but things soured as the weekend progressed. Florida State played poorly and ruined my first Golden Pick. After Utah State was dominated by Tennessee on Sunday night, I sat on the brink of a losing week. I was prepared to call a press conference, put on my best tan suit, and explain why I'd been exposed worse than Justin Verlander. I remained confident that the Canes could help save my week, but was let down last night. Miami's loss pushed my record down to a disappointing 7-9 overall.
"I'm intimidated by the fear of being average." - Taylor Swift
Last season, I coined the phrase "Precise Mediocrity" to describe my college football picks that ended at 50% accuracy. I put in the prep time this offseason, but find myself below my expectations once again. I enjoyed every minute of the games from Thursday - Sunday, and have learned about each team. Hopefully this week is the breakthrough, because losing gets old.
Throughout the season, I will give you so many statistics that you'll feel like you're reading Nate Silver, except without the snark and pompous cockiness. I'll track these results for every possible trend and by including enough categories, maybe I'll find an area where I excel (pun intended).
ARIZONA -7 at UTSA (The Fighting Coker's) 8pm - FOX SPORTS 1 (THURSDAY)
Pay no attention to the Packers and Seahawks on Thursday night. This is the game to watch. No opening week win was more impressive than UTSA's 27-7 victory at Houston. The Roadrunners have become relevant in college football much faster than anyone imagined, led by former Miami coach Larry Coker. UTSA has 37 seniors and returned nearly every starter from 2013. Coker's team was able to force four interceptions against Houston and won convincingly despite gaining just 267 yards on 74 plays on offense. They'll need a lot more offense on Thursday night to stay with Arizona. The Wildcats put up 58 points against UNLV, gained 787 yards, and scored four touchdowns on plays of 39 yards or more. Zona's new starting QB Freshman Anu Solomon has a ton of weapons around him. WR's Austin Hill, Samajie Grant, and Nate Phillips are all talented and will be too much for UTSA to handle. Arizona ran an incredible 94 plays against UNLV and that Rich Rod tempo will wear down the Roadrunners' defense. The fairy tale start to the season ends for Coach Coker as Arizona wins by double digits.