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Monday Musings: Readjusting Expectations

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NCAA Football: Alabama at Miami Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to delve into the recesses of my mind and see what’s floating around in the green-and-orange-hued pool of thought......

1) That was absolutely abysmal. I thought returning 18 starters and having the edge in experience at QB might offset the edge Alabama held in overall talent and coaching. NOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPEEEEEEE. Boy, my God, was that not the case. I thought that Miami would compete, but lose. Again......HAHAHAHAHAHA. What the heck was I even thinking? Watching those Alabama players line up, I was in awe of how big and/or how much of a physical specimen they were. Whether it was their massive (and I mean MASSIVE) offensive line that manhandled our defensive front, their dump-truck-built running backs. Their large and athletic front seven. Those fellas looked like grown-ass men, while we.......didn’t. They looked the part that they played: imposing and dominant.

2) And as a result, Miami is what I hoped they weren’t but are, not in the same universe as the top team in the land. And, it’s unfortunately not a team that looks all that much different from the previous several years. Poor tackling, horrendously-missed assignments (see the first touchdown), and the never-ending targeting ejection reared their ugly heads again. The tendency to seemingly coach scared and play scared also showed up again. A run up the middle on 3rd-and-7?!?! And the QB sneak from the shotgun, WHICH SHOULD NEVER, EVER BE RUN, UNDER AND CIRCUMSTANCES! TERRIBLE!!!! Overall, that was perhaps the most conservative offensive game plan I’ve ever seen from a Miami team. And it couldn’t be the case against a defense that you simply had to test downfield and take chances against.

3) But part of the problem with taking shots downfield is.......well, when they finally stopped running the ball up the damned middle, it was obvious that the Miami offensive line was way overmatched. DJ Scaife, Jr. and the right side of the line had a horrendous game, with King falling under pressure just about every time he dropped back. The offensive line did nothing to prove that it is significantly improved from last year, when it completely failed to get a push for the running game in parts of the year.

4) But there was some good. I want to see James Williams and Kam Kinchens on the field A LOT more. Let those young guys grow and eat. Kinchens played particularly well, I thought. Also pleased with Chantz Williams providing some semblance of a pass rush. That was going to be a question this season with both ends getting drafted - who would step up? That was a good first impression from Williams. Andy Borregales boomed kickoffs and made all of his kicks, looking like there was very little drop off from his brother. This team will be in some close games this year, so games could hinge on a kick. Lou Hedley was Lou Hedley, and that’s a good thing. Xavier Restrepo made a nice play. Mike Harley flashed some, at times looking like the player he was last year.

5) So, with that all being said, we’re back to this article from last week. I called for 10-2 by a hair over 9-3. I think 9-3 now would be a cockeyed miracle. This looked more like an 8-4 team, and maybe even worse. Yeah, y’all, I know it was Bama and that they roll teams. I know that. Don’t bother commenting about that. But I also know this team was fortunate to win some games last year, with a number of close games going their way among two terrible blowout losses. Asking for that to happen again just doesn’t feel realistic. And I say that because I don’t think this team is going to be much better than last year as far as what performance they put forth on the field. It’s not good enough, but it’s just who we are right now.

6) You all might think I’m being heavy handed and have Canes shock syndrome, and that’s fine. I don’t really care if you do. I just know that what I saw as far as preparation, coaching, performance, etc., I have serious reservations about this team being good enough to tilt some of those close contests their way again that we know are coming. And it all starts with the man at the top having his team ready to play from the start. That was the knock last year, with Miami having to make up early deficits against NC State and Virginia Tech while completely failing to show up for Clemson. I saw nothing that indicates that trend will change this year.

7) Getting out of this week in one piece against Appalachian State would be a good start to prove that this team is different from previous ones. That this team has taken a step forward maturity and ability wise. This will be App State’s Super Bowl, and they showed last week that they’re a capable bunch, answering East Carolina’s opening touchdown with an ensuing 33-3 run before winning 33-19. This will be a fight, but one I’ll tilt Miami’s way by virtue of having (I think) the best player on either team in D’Eriq King. Can this offensive line protect him and open holes for the offense? That’s my biggest question coming into this game. After facing the toughest challenge they will ever face last week, I say that helps them play well enough to win this week....albeit by a smaller margin than folks would like. Miami 31, Appalachian State 24.