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The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: Toledo Edition

In a shootout the offense and defense showed flashes, but inconsistencies still present

Toledo v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

After a three week hiatus because of Hurricane Irma, the Miami Hurricanes were back on the gridiron. The Canes started strong out of the gates, stuttered in the second quarter, but took flight after halftime to down the Toledo Rockets 52-30.

Here’s our recap of the game:

With that all being said, here we go:

The Good

  • Miami won: Winning isn’t guaranteed especially after not playing a game for three weeks. Many “experts” put the Hurricanes on upset watch, but the Hurricanes took care of business at home.
  • Mark Walton: The junior running back had a career day rushing for 204 yards and 1 touchdown on just 11 carries (18.5 yards per carry). Walton also had a career-high 82 yard run stopped just shy of the goal line. Something else to note, the lead tailback for Miami was at 199 yards after 10 attempts, but after pleading with Mark Richt, the Booker T. Washington product got his wish and completed the milestone (recognized with a standing ovation as he came out of the game).
  • Malik Rosier: Throughout spring and fall camp the coaches preached consistency was going to win the quarterback battle, and fans are starting to see why Rosier was named the Hurricanes’ starting quarterback. He’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagine, but the Mobile, Alabama native showed fans why he deserves to be under center. Rosier completed 27 of his 36 passes for a career-high 333 yards and three touchdowns to just one interception. The redshirt-junior also rushed for a crucial touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
  • Braxton Berrios: The senior wide receiver has shown big strides in his game since the Russell Athletic Bowl, and has three touchdowns in his last three games. The Raleigh, North Carolina native finished with five receptions for a career-high 105 yards and one touchdown.
  • Christopher Herndon IV: After having a less than stellar week one, Miami got their tight-end involved as the senior totaled seven catches for 65 yards and one touchdown.
  • Defense (as a whole): It’s hard to judge a defense against such a high powered offense that averaged just under 45 points per game through three weeks of play, but Miami’s defense contained Toledo to 30 points. At times the defense bent, but it did not break. The Hurricanes had nine tackles for loss and sacked Woodside four times. Miami’s defense also recovered a fumble...
  • The Turnover Chain: IT WAS BACK. With Miami not playing since Sept. 2, the Hurricanes didn’t have a chance to break the chain out again. However, late in the third quarter the orange and green glittery medallion was on full display. With the Canes pressuring Woodside, the senior quarterback lost the football and Sheldrick Redwine jumped all over the pigskin. As the safety was running off the field, the junior started shooting dice in celebration and pulled out his actual chain while being crowned with the turnover chain.
  • Offensive line play: Something that often gets overlooked in football, Miami’s offensive line was solid all day. Consistently opening up big wholes for the running game and giving Rosier plenty of time to deliver the ball to the skill players on the outside. Additionally, Rosier was only sacked two times in this game (credit to his mobility and the blocking of the offensive line).
  • Freshmen: Most notably, Trajan Bandy, Navaughn Donaldson and Mike Harley looked impressive again in just their second week of college football action. Bandy proved to be a huge contributor on the backend despite battling a minor injury throughout the game. Donaldson provided big blocks for Walton and the Canes’ offense. Harley pitched in three receptions for 33 yards and showcased his barnburner speed once again.

The Bad

  • The first half: Miami got beat in the first half, plain and simple. Not only was the score 16-10 in favor of Toledo going into halftime, the Hurricanes struggled controlling the tempo of the game. Toledo held possession for more than 20 minutes in the first half compared to just under 10 minutes for Miami. With the offense the Rockets employ, they ran 50 plays throughout the first two quarters. That’s an absurd amount that is almost unprecedented. Toledo was able to accumulate 296 yards of total offense in the first half because of their time of possession and the amount of plays they were able to run.
  • Third down defense: The Hurricanes’ struggled on third down stopping Toledo, especially in the first half. The Rockets were 10-of-14 (71.4%) on third down conversions before the intermission. Miami improved their defense significantly in the second half, but Toledo still finished the game 13-of-23 (56.5%) on third downs. Manny Diaz and his staff are going to need to fine tune their third down defense with ACC play kicking off next week.
  • Malik Rosier’s streakiness: Overall, Rosier led Miami’s offense effectively and looked pretty sharp. However, the redshirt-junior was extremely streaky, especially in the second quarter. Miami had three consecutive drives in the second frame where they accomplished almost nothing. Rosier missed some pretty routine throws over the course of those possessions. It pretty much boils down to mechanics and taking his time with his progressions and reads for the Canes’ signal caller.
  • The secondary: Miami allowed 344 yards passing, including 213 yards in the first half. Although Toledo’s offense is their calling card, the Hurricanes struggled with coverages. Play after play the Rockets’ offensive weapons would be left wide open. Jaquan Johnson, Malek Young and Trajan Bandy were solid on the backend, but Dee Delaney and Michael Jackson struggled. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Hurricanes shuffle the rotation in the secondary, having Bandy or Young start on the outside.

The Ugly

  • Dee Delaney: The defensive back could’ve made the jump to the NFL last season as a middle-to-late round draft talent, but elected to transfer to Miami instead, and his game is being exposed a little bit at the Division 1 level. Time and time again, Delaney got burned in coverage. It didn’t take long for Toledo to realize that The Citadel transfer was struggling as well. Woodside kept targeting the receiver that was being defended by Delaney and it worked to perfection. Delaney will still be in the defensive back rotation, but look for the others around him (especially Bandy and Young) to see an increase in playing time in the coming weeks as Delaney fine tunes his skills.
  • Rosier’s interception: “Jeff Thomas was wide open, I just completely missed him,” the gunslinger said after game. Rosier missed him by at least 10 yards. It wasn’t even close. From most fans’ view it looked like Rosier and Thomas had a miscommunication, but with Rosier saying he missed him it makes the throw a little concerning. As mentioned early, it comes down to progressions and mechanics for Rosier, which he will continue to improve on throughout the season. Richt knows how to develop quarterbacks and has already done so with Rosier given his improvement from 2015.
  • Penalties: No team or fanbase will ever be happy with penalties and this still rings true after Miami’s win over Toledo. The Canes took eight penalties costing them 75 yards. Against a team with the Rockets’ offensive prowess, Miami took some boneheaded penalties that easily could’ve been avoided. Most notably, Redwine jumped offside as time expired in the second quarter—which allowed Toledo to take the field goal from five yard closer, this time converting—and KC McDermott’s holding penalty negated Rosier’s initial rushing touchdown. It didn’t end up hurting the Canes at the end of the day, but against a conference opponent it could come back to haunt the Hurricanes.

Team Grades

Offense: A-

Miami’s offense put up 587 total yards and scored 52 points. That’s pretty impressive for a unit that was not gaining headlines before the season started. Take those stats with a grain of salt considering Toledo’s defense, but the Hurricanes put up points in bunches.

Defense: C

The secondary struggled mightily and surrendered 344 yards in the air blowing coverages throughout the game. Miami’s front seven was able to get Woodside and sack the quarterback four times, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the woes on the backend.

Special Teams: B

Not too many opportunities for the third unit to shine with Miami either punching it in the end zone or going three and out. However, after a solid week one for Zach Feagles, the freshman had just a below average day punting the football (36.3 yards per punt). Thomas averaged 23.0 per kick return while no Hurricane recorded any punt return stats.

Coaching: B+

After a shaky first half, Miami rallied coming out of the halftime break. Richt and his staff made adjustments at the intermission and had confidence in their personnel to get the job done.