Afternoon, folks. It’s been two calendar days since the Miami Hurricanes went into Kyle Field and laid a 17-9 stinker in front of a national audience. I shouldn’t have been too mad, because this was a game on the calendar as a loss back in the preseason. But expectations change, and mine certainly did after seeing the first two weeks of the season.
On with the analysis...
1) First, I want to start off on a positive note: the defense played it’s a$$ off. Absolute gem of an all-around effort from this unit. As far as I’m concerned, this type of play will put Miami in position to win every remaining game on their schedule. And I think that’s the order I’d rather have things - a better defense that can prop up an underwhelming offense at times. It’s hard to overcome a terrible defense with a great offense and win plenty of games, and fortunately for Miami, their defense - with a retooled and improved front seven - looks like it will be a bright spot this year.
2) I wrote here about the five players who needed to shine for Miami to win, which you can check out here. My five were: Tyler Van Dyke, Leonard Taylor, James Williams, Brashard Smith, and Key’Shawn Smith. Nope, yes, yes, nope, nope, respectively. Taylor and Williams were brilliant on Saturday, as was much of the rest of the defense as previously noted.
3) Van Dyke and his receivers, on the other hand, were largely the reason for the loss. How much of that goes on each respective player is up for debate, but none of the receivers stepped up with Xavier Restrepo out, as I called for needing to happen. And it happened with two A&M defenders out for targeting and two more suspended. A bunch of backups in their secondary, and Miami receivers absolutely couldn’t beat them. Terribly sad and worrisome.
4) Van Dyke also had several uncharacteristic misfires, including a deep crossing route to Michael Redding, III that would have gone for a big gain. Long story short, the passing game is a major hot mess that’s going to have to be fixed starting next week with ACC play just around the corner.
5) A big shoutout to the offensive line and the running backs. They, like UM’s defensive line, won the battles in the trenches the majority of the game, which is usually a recipe for success. If they can create holes like that, Miami should be able to continue to play ball control in ACC play, with the breaks finally going their way, hopefully. The unit looks completely different than last year, and that’s a big positive to take away from the game. Also, Henry Parrish, Jr. and Jaylan Knighton ran hard and physical. Love them as a one-two punch out of the backfield.
6) And also props to DJ Ivey. I’ve noted the play of Taylor and Williams, but I thought Ivey was perhaps the best player on the Canes’ defense Saturday. Just an amazing effort in coverage on multiple occasions. Bravo, sir.
7) Cam’s grades are up in his Good, Bad, and Ugly piece, and Special Teams got a 100%-deserved F. I couldn’t agree more. This, at least as much as the failed passing attack, lost Miami the game. I know we’re working to change the culture, but the special teams unit is far better than what they showed Saturday. Every single break went against them and in favor of A&M. Tyrique Stevenson’s muffed punt, obviously, was the game-changer, and the Aggies recovered and capitalized in what was at least a 7-point swing and more likely 10+. Of course, when their returner fumbled NEXT TO THREE OF OUR PLAYERS, they recovered. Every single one of their punts died deep inside the 20. They made their field goal. The Canes missed two. Just a symphony of things working against UM that made small differences (and in a couple of cases big ones) that added up over the course of the game.
8) And the coaching decisions don’t get a pass either. I have no idea what Mario Cristobal and/or Josh Gattis was thinking with the conservative plan near the goal line down 17-6. It looks like they were playing for a field goal with goal-to-go, which would create a highly-unlikely situation of tying the game down 8. An extremely passive decision. Hopefully that won’t be repeated if Miami finds themselves in a similar situation this year.
9) Oh well. On to Week 4. The MTSU Blue Raiders roll into Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, and there’s little point in previewing this one. MTSU lost to James Madison 44-7 to open the season, so this isn’t a team in the Canes’ class. What I WILL be watching is how well Van Dyke and his receivers get their timing down. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if UM aired it out on Saturday just to give the passing game additional work. And hopefully Jake Garcia gets some second half work because, well, he’s a Cane and he’s damned good. I’d like to see what he can do in live action as much as possible. Not calling for a change, to be clear. Would just like to see both quarterbacks work, and excel in the season’s final tune up. Miami 47, MTSU 13.