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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Virginia Edition

A rough start but a big second half leads Miami to a huge win. Let’s discuss.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami
Yeah, even Miami’s starting running back gets to wear the turnover chain (he earned it, trust me).
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Survive and advance. That’s the mantra during March Madness, but it’s applying to this Miami Hurricanes Football season as well.

After a slow start, and a 2 TD deficit early in the 2nd half, the Canes went on a 30-0 run to mount an epic comeback and beat a game Virginia Cavaliers team 44-28 on Senior Day at Hard Rock Stadium. You can get more narrative in our Game Recap by Stefan Adams

Also, for a rundown of who excelled today, here are our 3 stars from the Virginia game by Matt Washington

Now, it’s time to dissect the action from today’s game, and we’ll do that in SOTU standard style.

My friends, I present to you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

The Good

  • A WIN!!!!! Winning is always good, although there are elements that can be improved. But, we’re still undefeated and other teams aren’t so that’s a good thing.
  • A win ON SENIOR DAY!!!! For these Miami Hurricanes seniors, they came to Miami in a dark time and stayed when they could have left. They helped rebuild The U, and their faithfulness and hard work has been rewarded greatly. THANK YOU SENIORS!!!
  • The return of Ahmmon Richards. Miami’s superstar sophomore receiver has been battling a hamstring injury, but even despite that he made plays today. Richards had 4 catches for 51 yards and a TD — a beautiful leaping catch on a fade route — to help Miami get going on offense. He’s not 100%, but an Ahmmon Richards at 80% is better than most players in America. Glad to see him back (and not dropping balls either).
  • The emergence of Lawrence Cager. In the doghouse for a good part of the season, Cager has stepped into the spotlight in the last few weeks. He joined Richards with a 9 yard fade route TD — his only catch of the day — to bring Miami within 7 points early in the 3rd quarter. He played a lot, and blocked well too, and Cager is getting better every week.
  • Jaquan Johnson’s pick-6. Right after Cager’s TD, the very next snap, actually, Johnson jumped a route, caught the interception, and returned it 30 yards to tie the game at 28.
  • Johnson also finished with 9 tackles, a TFL, and a Sack to go along with his INT-TD.
  • RJ McIntosh. He’s so good. HE’S SOOOOOO GOOOD!!!! There were times that Virginia simply couldn’t block him, and his disruption helped Miami finally get to Kurt Benkert. McIntosh had 4 tackles, 0.5 sack, 3 TFL, and a TON of penetration and pressure.
  • Malik Rosier bouncing back from bad plays. He threw 2 BAD interceptions and almost threw a pick-6 (we’ll talk about this later, trust me), but he kept bouncing back. 3 TDs passing — to Richards, Cager, and Dayall Harris — along with a late rushing TD to extend out Miami’s 4th quarter lead. He might not be the best QB in America, but damn if Rosier isn’t the most resilient.
  • Malik Rosier’s throw to Dayall Harris the first play after a turnover to score a TD. My GOD what a throw. Into double coverage. Teeny tiny window. About a 45 yard throw. Money. So, so good.
  • TURNOVER CHAIN! TURNOVER CHAIN! TURNOVER CHAIN! Michael Jackson and Travis Homer (on special teams) both recovered fumbles, and Jaquan Johnson had his INT-TD for 3 turnover chain appearances today.
  • Miami’s run defense. Virginia had 28 carries for 55 yards. Yes this includes negative sack yardage, but 2.2 yards per carry on the game? Yeah. That’s good AF.
  • Travis Homer. 17 carries for 96 yards, a game-ending TD, AND AN AWESOME CELEBRATION!!!!
  • 11 tackles for loss
  • 5 sacks
  • 3 turnovers created (2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception)
  • 14 points off those 3 turnovers.
  • 6.0 yards per play
  • 14 yards per completion
  • 8 chunk plays (5 passes, 3 runs)
  • 30 point run to close the game
  • 6-13 on 3rd down
  • Held Virginia scoreless after the 12:21 mark of the 3rd quarter (final 27:39 of the game)
  • Held Virginia to 4/13 on 3rd down and 0/3 on 4th down. Aggregate 4/16 on money downs? Yes please.
  • Extended NATION-LONG winning streak to 15 games.
  • Continuing to rise to the occasion.

The Bad

  • 28 points to a Virginia team averaging 25.8ppg? It’s a bit over their average, but we keep teams BELOW their averages. Not good enough for me. (yes I’m being greedy and I don’t care. debate me in the comments if you like).
  • 4 penalties for 40 yards (plus hidden yardage). Kinda clean, but kinda not. Get this together.
  • A declined penalty bc Miami had 2 players with the same jersey number on the field together? woof. C’mon guys.
  • Rosier barely over 50% passing (15/28 = 53.6% completions). Gotta get that number up.
  • Miami’s lack of a running game for much of the day. Time and again, Miami tried to run inside zone or zone read or (a couple) buck sweeps, and got nothing. Yeah, some things started popping late when UVa had to sell out and go for turnovers, but it shouldn’t take that long to get the run game going.
  • Miami got a turnover. Immediately thereafter there was a chop block, a false start, and a sack. 2nd and 22. Yeah, that sequence is bad.
  • Lack of DeeJay Dallas today. Again, this is nitpicking, but after 2 games with increased work load and statistical impact, I would have liked to see more from DJD today. Plus, he’s good and fun and one of my favorite players. I get why he didn’t get too much burn, but I personally wanted to see him out there/used a bit more, is all.

The Ugly

  • Letting Kurt Benkert look like prime Peyton Manning. Benkert was 17/18 for 262 yards and 3 TDs in the first half...and the only incompletion was a throw away under pressure. He ended with a stat line of 28/37 for a school-record 384 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. For the better part of the day, Benkert was super saiyan. He’s a decidedly average player. Can’t allow that.
  • Holy missed tackles. On Virginia’s first 2 TDs, Miami was just atrocious in finding and running to the ball. Disgusting.
  • Coverage busts. On Virginia’s final 2 TDs, Miami’s D switched things up by blowing coverage to leave guys wide open. But hey, they didn’t miss any tackles, right?
  • Rosier’s interceptions. One was a tipped ball on Miami’s first drive of the day. The other was a horribly underthrown ball toward Jeff Thomas. Ew.
  • Miami’s continued inability to convert short yardage situations. I know the Canes converted more 3rd downs than normal, but there were several 3rd and 1 and 3rd and 2 plays where Miami went with a heavy personnel package and got NOTHING. That has to change.
  • I hate singling out players, but Zach McCloud had 1 good play today: the early forced fumble on Virginia’s 2nd drive. That’s it. He was noticeable for being out of place or missing tackles was just a really, really bad game from him.
  • Rosier’s throw BEFORE the INT toward Thomas was his worst throw of the day. A Virginia DB beat his block and jumped a bubble screen, and was 100% gone with a pick-6......but dropped the ball. Oh my goodness. I can’t tell you how bad that throw was. THE SINGULAR WORST THROW on a day where Rosier threw 2 INTs and missed several other open receivers. Yeah. It was that bad.
  • Also, Rosier missed a WIDE OPEN Braxton Berrios on a post route early in the game that would have been a TD with a better throw. Gotta hit the easy ones, kid.
  • Giving up nearly 450 yards and 6.8 yards per play to Virginia. Ew.
  • Yet another game with no holding called on Miami’s opponent yet you could see DURING GAME ACTION jerseys being nearly ripped off player’s backs. Virginia did get a hands to the face penalty, but it’s F*CKING INCREDIBLE that nobody ever holds Miami. EVER. (and it would be less obvious but our DL is arguably the best in America so you notice more when they’re held.....unless you’re a referee working a Miami game, of course).
  • Missed extra point and kickoff out of bounds by Badgley. Can’t have that. Period.
  • Going down to Virginia by 2 TDs...not once, but TWICE in the same game? Disgusting. Do better.

Team Grades

Offense: B-

It was rough sledding to start, with a couple interceptions for Malik Rosier and some plays that just weren’t working (ahem RUN GAME ahem). But, when Miami got rolling, they were pretty damn efficient and effective, and 44 points (okay, 37 for the offense since the defense scored a TD) is a solid day’s work, not matter the opponent.

Defense: C

Virginia went for big plays by offensive design and they hit several of them. Kurt Benkert had a school record for passing yards (384). Missed tackles. Bad pursuit angles. Just tons of stuff that wasn’t great. In the second half, Miami’s defense did much, MUCH better, including Jaquan Johnson’s pick-6. But, an uneven performance isn’t good enough for a unit of this caliber and that’s why the grade is a C.

Special Teams: D

Braxton Berrios’ fair catches were fine. Jeff Thomas taking a knee on kick returns was fine, too. Zach Feagles had a couple ok punts but a couple short ones, too. Michael Badgley had a kickoff out of bounds AND a missed extra point. Improvement needed. Immediately.

Coaching: C+

Virginia clearly came out with a better gameplan AND execution in today’s game. Mark Richt and Manny Diaz were able to make adjustments, eventually, but things weren’t where they needed to be until a little into the 3rd quarter, and that’s simply not good enough. Things got right, but I’d prefer they not start wrong, yanno?

That’s it for this edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Share your thoughts and keep the conversation going in the comments below.

Go Canes