Sigh....I needed a day off to soak this one in and reflect on the carnage we witnessed Saturday night. I needed to be far away from a keyboard and not be in write-post-delete-repeat mode that I was in on Twitter. I was annoyed with particular performances, but there was one aspect that left me madder than hell. Irate. More angry than I’ve been in a long, LONG time after a game. And that would be....
1) ....because the protection for quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence has gotten absolutely %#*@ing ridiculous. Unbelievable. Two ejections for targeting on shots against the golden boy. I say golden boy, because I’m beginning to wonder if it’s still legal to attempt to make a tackle on him as a college football defender. Remember last year, when Ohio State was leading Clemson 16-0, and a seemingly normal hit on Lawrence was flagged as targeting, and the game flipped? Well, Miami touched him three times Saturday night (that I can remember), and Miami players were kicked out for two of them! In the first half, Amari Carter does what he does, and got ejected for this hit on Lawrence...
Miami DB Amari Carter has been ejected for Targeting. pic.twitter.com/eveV7izy4a— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) October 11, 2020
Carter’s hit was the most egregious of the three hits (vs. Ohio State and 2 against UM) that resulted in ejections. However, not everyone liked this call, as even Desmond Howard called it BS on Twitter.
2) What followed next assuredly was BS. Keontra Smith came free up the middle and put his shoulder into Lawrence’s midsection right after he released the ball:
Trevor Lawrence down after this hit— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 11, 2020
The officials originally called it what it was: a clean, legal hit, but Lawrence was down on the play. So, of course, some idiot in the booth initiated a targeting review, and the boneheads in stripes deemed it was.
Targeting is a hot mess of a rule akin to trying to determine what a foul is in basketball. It’s a massive judgment call, and one that is FAR too much affecting the games by kicking players out for making nothing more than football plays. THIS WAS A FAIR FOOTBALL PLAY!!! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO DO IN THIS SITUATION?!?!?! HE HIT HIM IN THE STOMACH WITH HIS SHOULDER!!! HE DIDN’T GO HIGH FOR HIS HEAD!!! HE DIDN’T GO LOW FOR HIS KNEES!!! HE HIT HIM IN THE MIDSECTION!!! WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT. THEM. TO. DO. NCAA?!?! WHAT METHOD IS LEFT FOR THESE GUYS TO TACKLE?!?! Honest to God almighty, targeting is RUINING college football, and I’ve DAMN SURE had enough of this crap. I honestly don’t know how players are supposed to play defense anymore if they can’t go high, they can’t go low, and they can’t go in the middle. Reevaluate the rule in the offseason, folks. Figure out a way to distinguish true headhunting from incidental hits with guys running at each other at 20+ mph. Targeting I and Targeting II, with the first being a penalty/warning and the second being a penalty/ejection. This isn’t hard.
The punishment should fit the crime, but instead, the NCAA is putting defenders into the electric chair for parking violations. Get this fixed, folks. NOW.
3) As far as expectations for Miami, it’s obviously time to temper them. This team hasn’t taken the leap from mediocre to elite, as some of us had hoped. We wanted it badly. We’ve been yearning for something different than the past 17 years. Long enough where we readily accepted something that wasn’t really ours to accept. Or at least I did, and from social media, I was far from the only one. The talent gap is still a major divide, and hopefully the 2021 class with players like Kamren Kinchens, James Williams, Brashard Smith, and many other high-ceiling guys will start to work to bridge that gap. For now, we have to look at this as what they are: hopefully an 8 or 9-win team that can eek out a trip to the Orange Bowl by the skin of their teeth. This team is not good enough to go 10-1......
4) ....and that’s because teams are going to line up and force Miami to throw the ball wide and beat their corners. That’s not Miami’s forte, by any stretch of the imagination. Rhett Lashlee touched on it today, about Miami’s WRs winning 50/50 balls. I really don’t think this group can do that. Mark Pope, Mike Harley Jr., and Dee Wiggins aren’t #1s on any power 5 school. They might not be #2s at a majority of schools. I’m sorry if that’s being harsh, but that’s what their play under the bright lights shows. I’m very, VERY worried about being able to move the ball against a team that can slow down Miami’s inside zone running game and force King to throw against tight man coverage.
5) Speaking of that game plan, I bet that’s what Pat Narduzzi will be looking to do this Saturday, as Pitt comes to town. At 3-2 (2-2), the Panthers are coming off two straight one-point losses to NC State and Boston College. Not exactly a great resume, but Pitt has two things working in their favor: they are physical and talented in their defensive front, and they seem to rise up and compete more often than not when they’re facing top-level competition. Miami is favored by 10.5, but this will be a gut-check game for Miami. I look foolish for picking Miami last week to hang and lose a close game to Clemson, but I don’t feel as foolish now saying Miami will fight again this week. They will, and it will be a close, hard-fought bounce back win.
Miami 27, Pitt 23