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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: UAB Blazers edition

Miami won their 2020 season opener. Let’s dissect the action and give out some grades, shall we?

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes opened the 2020 season with a hard-fought 31-14 victory over the UAB Blazers.

Here’s the game recap by Cam Underwood:

Here are the 3 stars from the game by Marshall Thomas

And now, for the first time this season, let’s get into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

  • A WIN!!!!! It’s been 307 days since Miami’s 52-27 win against Louisville last November 9th since we’ve seen the Canes play a game and win it. So this is good! It’s very good! WINNING IS GOOD!!!!!
  • The run game. Look, it wasn’t perfect and there were some things we wanted to see (like D’Eriq King keep the ball on zone read once and eat up ALL THAT SPACE that UAB was giving him) but Miami ran 52 times for 337 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 3 TDs. With no fumbles. That’s the most yards Miami’s run for in a WHILE. Yeah, that’s a positive.
  • QB D’Eriq King’s debut. 15/23 for 141 yards 1 TD 0 INT and 12 carries for 83 yards and a TD. Was it perfect? No. But King did plenty of King things, making free run defenders miss, and getting the offense going, particularly the run game.
  • After falling in an early hole 7-0, Cam’Ron Harris broke free for a 66 yard TD to tie the game for Miami
  • Following an early 66 yard TD run, RB Cam’Ron Harris was the first player to wear the new edition of the Touchdown Rings. And they’re GREAT.
  • Dee Wiggins with a great toe-tap catch along the sideline.
  • Welcome to the U, D’Eriq King! Miami’s new QB1 found the endzone from 12 yards out for his first rushing TD as a Cane!!
  • D’Eriq King doing D’Eriq King things.
  • Miami’s defense. 6 TFLs, 1 sack, held UAB to 285 yards total offense and 14 points. Again, not perfect, but more good than bad (or ugly).
  • Freshmen RBs Jaylan Knighton and Donald Chaney Jr. Both had 50+ yards rushing and big runs (Knighton 25 yards, Chaney 33 yards). Limited reps, but the kids look the part of the dynamic duo everybody says they’ve been since enrolling in January.
  • DT Nesta Jade Silvera. He was very good tonight, showing strength and quickness at the point of attack. He had 5 tackles and a TFL, but his impact was more than that.
  • LB Bradley Jennings Jr. Miami’s new starting MLB had 6 tackles and 2 TFLs. Good first start.
  • DE Jaelan Phillips. 2 tackles, 0.5 TFL, and 2 PBUs (batted at the line). He flashed the athleticism and physical ability that made him the #1 overall recruit in the 2017 recruiting class.
  • DE Quincy Roche. The 2019 AAC Defensive Player of the Year had 4 tackles, a sack, and a TFL (which was the sack, but whatever). Yeah, we’ll be fine at DE this year.
  • TE Brevin Jordan. Took him a while to crack the scoresheet, but the best TE in America ended with 3 catches for 51 yards and a TD. More of that, please.
  • P Louis Hedley. 6 punts for a 47.5 yard average (long of 55). Yeah. He’s good.
  • K Jose Borregales. Every kickoff was a touchback, and he went 5/5 on kicks (4 extra points and 1 FG). MUCH better than last year’s kicking situation, to be sure.
  • 25 first downs
  • 7/17 on 3rd down. That’s almost 50%!!!!
  • 2/2 on 4th down, including Harris’s 66 yard TD. THAT’LL WORK!!!
  • 3 penalties for 27 yards. And they didn’t come until 2H. VERY clean game.
  • 14 Chunks plays — 11 runs (10+ yards) and 3 passes (15+ yards)
  • 6.5 yards per rush
  • 4-4 redzone scoring (3 TD, 1 FG)
  • Held UAB to 3/15 on 3rd down
  • Held UAB to 4.7 yards per play
  • Held UAB to 3.1 yards per rush

The Bad

  • Another slow start. Miami was down 7-0 early on, and this was a 1 possession game until late in the 3rd quarter (around the 40 minute mark of game action) when the Canes were finally able to pull away. There’s beauty in finding a way to win, but this wasn’t my favorite thing.
  • The lack of variety on offense. I get it: run it until they stop it. But inside zone read with an automatic give to the RB time after time after time was boring. PLUS, there were acres of space for King to exploit if he’d kept the ball on that read action just once. We didn’t see that until N’Kosi Perry entered the game late. Not my favorite, either.
  • 7 chunk plays allowed — 4 passes (15+ yards), 3 rushes (10+ yards)
  • Letting UAB go 2-2 in the redzone (both TDs....their only points of the night)
  • Dropped a couple/three interceptions. Gotta have those.

The Ugly

  • The Miami passing game. 15 completions for 141 yards isn’t great. Missing on every vertical throw isn’t great. Missing a WIDE OPEN Jeremiah Payton in the endzone on a perfectly sequenced RPO where the CB left the receiver to support the run, leaving his man uncovered in the endzone, and more. It was a STRUGGLE to utilize the forward pass tonight. Luckily Miami was able to run the ball so well otherwise....
  • The Offensive Line. Yes, I’m putting this as ugly on a day where Miami ran for more yards than they have in like a decade against an FBS team. But there were UAB defenders in the backfield constantly, which affected both the run and pass games. U-g-l-y. And it needs to be better.
  • Mark Pope’s fumbled punt return. You simply can’t have that, and it led to UAB’s first touchdown. Gotta be better.
  • Speaking of UAB’s first touchdown, CB DJ Ivey. He was picked on for the score, and several other completions as well. Ivey looks the part of a big time CB, but we’re still waiting for him to play like it.
  • No explosive plays by any WRs. Just saying, that’s gotta change.
  • QB Tate Martell being suspended for the opener. We saw he was out in the pre-game availability report, but it wasn’t noted as a suspension until Diaz said so post-game. Regardless of why, suspensions are ugly. Sorry.

Team Grades

Offense: C+

The run game gets an A for their efforts, but the passing game and offensive line were missing in action, so C+ seems right. The goal has to be to build on the foundation of the run game to unlock the full potential of the offense moving forward. And fast.

Defense: B+

UAB had exactly 1 sustained drive, a 75 yard TD drive early in the 3rd quarter. Other than that, UAB didn’t go more than 34 yards with the ball, and their other TD drive was 17 yards. I’d like to see more havoc plays, and obviously some turnovers, but this was a good effort by a bunch of guys (bc Miami rotated in a lot of players in the opener). Bravo.

Special Teams: B+

The fumbled punt is the only thing keeping this from being an A. Punting was fantastic. Place kicking was flawless. Big step in the right direction.

Coaching: B

I love the way Miami fought. I liked some of the performance, too. I was fine with the player rotation today because it didn’t affect performance. I’d like to see the offense come alive a bit more, and that’s on coaching for game planning and adjustments. But, this was a solid win over a solid team, and coaching had a lot to do with that. Good not great, and plenty of room for improvement. But lightyears better than what we saw last year. So, that’s good, IMO.

That’s it for this season-opening edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Let’s hear your takes in the comments section below.

Go Canes