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Monday Musings: Canes chop wood in Atlanta; Defenseless Noles; 1991 UM squad was filthy

NCAA Football: Miami at Georgia Tech Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

1) Canes’ defense chops wood in Atlanta.

Watching Georgia Tech play is just awful. If I was an alumnus or a fan of that program, I would have to drink at least a few ice cold beers before flipping the game on, just to make it (maybe) somewhat more entertaining and enjoyable.

Whether it’s the same, monotonous handoff to their bowling ball fullback, seeing that back shift the exact same way every time in their “flexbone” or whatever the hell it’s called, watching them – down two or three scores – hand the ball off up the gut for 3 yards on 2nd and 19, or watch them attempt a forward pass beyond ten yards……’s a travesty and a system that belongs back in the era of D-day.

Nonetheless, the effectiveness of the Tech attack is wearing down a defense over four quarters with nothing short of blunt force trauma. And going into the game, I was worried about our depth and ability to rotate and remain effective.

And, make no mistake, the Tech offense was rolling at times. For the day, they totaled 267 yards on 55 carries, good for 5 yards a pop. And during the second and third quarters, they put together a pair of 9-play touchdown drives. The Jackets drew to within 28-21 in the third quarter, with 4 of their 9 plays in the drive resulting in runs of longer than 10 yards. It seemed perhaps the Canes were getting gassed.

But no, once again, the other shoe didn’t fall. Nothing dreadful happened; yes, it’s time to get that Golden pessimism out of our systems. In fact, the Canes’ defense held strong down the stretch, thwarting all four of the Jackets’ final drives on the day, with two three-and-outs mixed in.

Add in a pair of defensive touchdowns that put the Yellow Jackets in major comeback mode – which they are ill-equipped to do, and overall I’d say it was another good outing for Manny Diaz’s crew.

2. Defenseless Noles

And speaking of defenses, or lack thereof, Florida State is still looking to find out where its own has run off to. I mean……when’s the last time you can remember a Florida State squad having a MAC-tion kind of defense???

Former Bucs coach Raheem Morris once said “stats are for losers”…..which is maybe why he’s no longer there. Of course stats matter, and the stats say that FSU’s defense is one of the worst in the nation. Which, if you’ve watched more than 5 minutes of football this year, you probably already knew that.

But just how bad are they?

438.4 yards per game (94th). 6.98 yards per play (125th). 35.4 points per game (42.5 points per game against FBS opponents(!!!!)). Receivers running free. Dogs and cats living together. This is a train wreck, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Tallahassee in some time. Maybe ever.

I mean, think about it. We’re talking about an FSU team that is only 3 years removed from winning the national championship in the midst of ripping off 29 straight wins. Their recruiting classes are chock full of four and five-star studs.

Jimmy’s and Joes are clearly important, but that whole X’s and O’s thing also matters to some degree. And, to the layman’s eye, the FSU defense looks about as base and vanilla as a defense could go. UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky had a field day on Saturday, pressured little while hitting on chunk plays, one right after the other.

And now they get to face one of the most talented pocket passers and dynamic running backs in the country in Kaaya and Walton. Folks, if there’s ever going to be a time to beat the Noles, it’s now. Yep, the Canes will have to key on Cook as usual and do a better job containing him than the past 2 years. But at home before what should be a ridiculously pro-Miami crowd against a Seminole team whose season has effectively gone in the toilet, Miami should be smelling blood in the water. Saturday’s your night, guys.

3. The 1991 Canes crushed folks.

Maybe some folks remember the 1987 team, where Steve Walsh led a furious 26-25 comeback win in Tallahassee on the way to Jimmy Johnson’s national championship. Perhaps others think about the 3rd and 43 conversion against Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, and going on to win the 1989 national championship narrowly over those same Irish after a 33-25 Sugar Bowl win against Bama. Of course, the 1983 and 2001 teams are unforgettable historical seasons that bookend the Canes’ championship legacy.

But what about the 1991 team? Although the 2001 team gets credit for being one of the, if not the, most talented squads ever, the 1991 team was nothing short of a terror to opponents, especially on the defensive side of the ball. For the season, they allowed a mere 100 points. Only once did they allow 20 points. Only two opponents eclipsed 14 points. Five times they allowed 3 points or fewer. And they shut out #11 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl 22-0 to clinch the school’s fourth national championship.

And that Orange Bowl shutout was the culmination of maybe the greatest group of collegiate linebackers to ever play together as a unit: the Bermuda Triangle. Micheal Barrow, Darrin Smith, and Jessie Armstead. The unit played together from 1989-1992, winning two titles and carrying a level of swagger on the field that no one had ever seen before, nor likely will ever see again.

The ’91 Canes didn’t crush EVERYBODY they played. They edged #9 Penn State 26-20 in the Orange Bowl. They escaped Boston College with a 19-14 win.

But sometimes you don’t need a sledgehammer, but rather a pin to cause the most damage. And the 1991 Canes, while hammering opponents for most of the season, pricked the Noles right in the heart with Wide Right I, leading to years of heartache and bad juju in the kicking game.

4. Pick of the week

The Canes and Wisconsin both covered last week, lifting my record against the spread to 5-1-1 on the year. Did anyone see what Ohio State did to Rutgers last week? And now Michigan heads to New Jersey to take on the Scarlet Knights. Given how well Michigan’s defense is playing, they might just cover the 27 points all by themselves. Michigan (-27) 45, Rutgers 7.