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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Appalachian State Mountaineers edition

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It wasn’t pretty, but it was (barely) effective enough to get the job done.

NCAA Football: Appalachian State at Miami Richard Graulich-USA TODAY Sports

Well, kids, that was quite a bit closer than anyone would have liked, no?

Miami nearly snatched defeat from the hands of victory, but found a way to eke out a 25-23 win over the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium.

I pulled double duty AGAIN with your game recap:

And the inimitable Candis McLean stepped in the rotation to choose the 3 stars from tonight’s game:

Now for what you’ve been waiting for: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good

  • A win. Winning is good. Winning is fun. Winning is why we play the game. And, it had been 280 days since Miami blasted Duke 48-0 last December 5th since the Canes had won a game, so yes, I’m starting with the fact that we WON THE GAME!
  • Miami got off to a fast start on defense with a tipped ball interception by Amari Carter. Who tipped the ball? DE Chantz Williams. So ANOTHER play where 33 flashes elite talent and skill. Me gusta mucho.
  • Drive looked like it might stall, but the Canes punched it in for td by Donald Chaney Jr. from 1 yard out. Scoring points is great!
  • THE CAT!!!! Late in the 1st quarter, a cat — yes, cat, like a feline house pet — was seen hanging from the upper deck at HRS. In an incredible video, some fans in the club level caught the falling cat in their American Flag. Yes, seriously. Check it out.
  • Manny Diaz later said that if the Cat can help Miami’s red zone offense, he’ll give it a scholarship. Which is kinda joking. But.......(we’ll talk more about this later in this piece)
  • An incredible 1st punt by Louis Hedley pinned App State at their own 2 yardline. Punting and winning field position like that is key to any game, and Hedley continues to prove himself one of the best punters, if not THE best punter, in America.
  • At the end of that ensuing drive, Miami got a safety on a bad punt snap. See, field position matters!
  • I’ve been screaming that he needs to play more and get targeted more since last year, but feast your eyes on this INCREDIBLE Key’shawn Smith diving catch. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!!
  • Miami came out into the 2nd half and immediately had a decisive 6 play, 75 yard touchdown drive to take the lead. That’s more like what we need to see offense.
  • K Andres Borregales. The freshman made 3 of his 4 FG attempts (the other one was blocked) including the eventual game-winner with 2:04 left in the 4th quarter. He was brought here to make kicks, and that’s what he did today. Bravo.
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson. A superstar and one that Miami desperately needed today. The Georgia transfer had 5 tackles and 3 PBUs, including one on Appalachian State’s final 4th down on the night to seal the win for Miami. He had a couple nice punt returns too, but Stevenson’s enormous presence on the back end of Miami’s defense is why he’s on this list. A yeoman’s effort from him tonight. Masterful stuff.
  • S Gurvan Hall. 10 tackles, including a couple drive-ending plays. Sure, there were a couple times he wasn’t fully in-phase in coverage, but overall, a solid game from Gurvan.
  • DT Nesta Silvera. 2.5 TFLs and plenty of other disruption from the interior of the Canes’ DL. Great job.
  • DE Jahfari Harvey. A sack on the first possession of the night....which ended up being Miami’s only sack of the day (for a variety of performance and schematic reasons). He had several other plays early which impacted App State’s ability to move the ball on offense.
  • DE Chantz Williams. Another guy who looks like he’s close to breaking out. Just keep your eyes on him.
  • DT Jared Harrison-Hunte. 2 QB hurries and a couple tackles. Liking what I’m seeing from the big man.
  • RB Cam’Ron Harris. I still think there’s a better option on the roster, but Harris went out there and produced when needed. 18 carries for 91 yards and a TD. AND plenty of Cam-standard good to great pass protection. Another solid effort from him tonight.
  • S Bubba Bolden. 8 tackles and a TFL and a PBU. There we go.
  • 26 first downs
  • 13 chunk plays — 4 passes (15+), 9 rushes (10+)
  • Offensive Balance: 200 yards passing and 175 yards rushing
  • 4 for 5 in the red zone
  • 1 sack (Harvey)
  • 7 TFL
  • Held App State to 3.3 yards per rush
  • Held App State to 1 for 3 on 4th down
  • Held App State to 5 for 15 on 3rd down

The Bad

  • Oh look. Another slow start. If not for the short field on the tipped ball interception, Miami may not have found the endzone in the 1st half. That’s not good.
  • QB D’Eriq King in the first half. He was flat out bad. 10/21 for 105 yards passing. IDC about the drops, he also made wrong reads — particularly in the zone read and RPO games — that cost his team yards and points. Sure, he ran well-ish, but he’s clearly lost that extra gear he had before tearing up his knee in the bowl game and that’s not gonna be good enough for Miami to win.
  • Continually settling for field goals. yes, FGs are points, but in order to win games, you have to get into the endzone. And, quite frankly, Miami wasn’t able to do that enough tonight against a team they’re much more physically talented than. And that should be QUITE alarming.
  • 6 penalties for 60 yards, including 2 that took touchdowns off the board. AND, several others that were either offsetting or declined. So yeah, this remains an issue.
  • Not finishing drives with Touchdowns. Miami could get away with this tonight, but not as the season progresses.
  • 8 chunk plays allowed — 4 passes (15+), 4 rushes (10+). This includes the 41 yard bomb that nearly led to App State winning the game. So yeah, that’s bad.
  • 4.1 yards per rush
  • 10 yards per completion
  • Lost time of possession 32:00 to 28:00
  • Although the raw number in the end was okay, there was a stretch early in 3Q where Miami allowed App State to go 4 for 5 on 3rd downs. That won’t cut it.

The Ugly

  • Miami trailed Appalachian State 14-12 at halftime. Bruh.....
  • The return of the drops. 4 costly ones in the first half alone (Mallory, Harley x2 and another one I forget who had it though). Miami is not good enough to overcome those errors, as evidenced by the fact that the drives which had these drops totaled 0 points in the first half.
  • Even more penalties. I mean.........
  • Again, multiple penalties today TOOK POINTS OFF THE BOARD. That’s unacceptable.
  • The kick return touchdown for App State. On the kickoff following taking the lead (on yet another FG, because we couldn’t get into the endzone without a penalty), Miami let App State run it back 100 yards. Lackluster effort and terrible technique — Andres Borregales, you gotta keep your feet moving and not let him get past you up the sideline — and very good speed from the returner got App State into the endzone and the lead, which they carried into halftime. Terrible. TERRIBLE, I say.
  • Blocked FG late in 2Q. Middle of the line offered no resistance to App State’s rushers. And just that quick, another Miami scoring opportunity — one that saw the Canes get in the end zone but it was negated by penalty — came up empty.
  • Seriously, the ineptitude in the red zone. Sure, 4 for 5 scoring in there is good, but those scores need to be touchdowns. 2 for 5 scoring TDs when in the red zone isn’t good enough. Fix it.
  • The “Line Change”/wholesale defensive substitution rotation pattern. I dislike it greatly.
  • Arm tackling, especially from the backups. App State broke several tackles IMMEDIATELY when Miami went to the bench on defense. I don’t like it.
  • Injuries. Both RB Donald Chaney Jr. and LB Keontra Smith left the game with Lower Extremity injuries. Manny Diaz said post-game that the initial prognosis for both players was “not good”. That’s telling to me. Usually coaches will coachspeak you to death. “IDK guys, we have to see when they get checked out”. But to respond on the day of the injury openly that “both of those are big losses to our team” is telling, and not in a good way. My initial thought based upon the fact they both left the game, Chaney was seen on crutches, and Smith wasn’t seen again after leaving, AND Diaz’s statement (and the tone of the response) is that we’ll be lucky to see either one of them suit up again this season. And that SUCKS.

Team Grades

Offense: D-

Sill not good enough. No creativity schematically. Well, to be fair, Lashlee did dial up a couple things, but App State had them covered. So, they didn’t work. Which doesn’t help. The inability to get in the end zone when close was nearly a killer. And, the uber-reliance on D’Eriq King, who threw for 200 and ran for another 79 with MANY MORE called QB runs than in previous games, was only intermittently successful, though it was enough to win. But barely being enough to win is not the standard. Thus, I grade the performance as such.

Defense: C+ B-

There were plenty of things to like, but I’d like to see more TFLs and sacks, for sure. I know App State was scheming to get the ball out quickly, but that doesn’t change my desire for negative plays. Also, stop rotating players. Leave the starters on the field. That’s tougher now that Keontra Smith might be out for the year, but figure it out. And, if not for a superstar performance from Tyrique Stevenson, this game likely goes the other way. So you know what? I’m bumping this up a grade to a B-, but that’s still FAR from the level where things need to be to have the season everyone desires.

Special Teams: D-

Okay. So. Some things were good, as they usually are. P Louis Hedley had another great game punting the ball and flipping the field and pinning App State deep in their own territory. Andres Borregales was accurate with his kicks.

BUT

There was a blocked FG. And there was a KR-TD from the opposition. And those 10 points nearly cost Miami the game. Fix it, Patke.

Coaching: C-

Again, I’m tired of hearing “this is just what (insert team here) does.” I’m tired of not being prepared (and not scoring TDs is not being prepared to play offense). There’s just.....there’s just a lot that is left to be desired here. From playcalling to player rotations (didn’t start Chaney now he’s gone for the year, great job, guys) to just letting Appalachian State hang around until the last minute of the game. This is starting to feel like this is the ceiling for this program, and I don’t like it.


That’s it for this installment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Please, I implore you, leave your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s talk about it.

On to Michigan State we go.

Go Canes