Here are some of my thoughts and observations following Miami’s 31-28 loss to Kansas State on Saturday:
- Although it’s not a conference loss, there’s something that hurts about this defeat more than Miami’s 32-24 loss at Maryland did a few weeks ago if you’re a Miami fan. It might be the missed opportunities both on defense and late in the game on the goal line, but really it might be the realization that this is not that much different of a team than the one we’ve seen in recent years despite a new coaching staff, and that there’s a lot of work to be done before UM gets back to an elite level.
- It will be lost in defeat, but Jacory Harris played his best game in a while for Miami. His first half was unspectacular, but he hung in as UM fell behind and the home crowd seemingly turning on him. Aside from Harris just overshooting Tommy Streeter on a long passing play, Harris was impeccable in the second half, and he’s the main reason UM even had a chance to win late.
- The major dissapointment in the game was obviously defensively. The UM run defense simply doesn’t appear to be very good, and a lot of that has to be attributed to the lack of production and penetration from the defensive line. The group never seems to be in the backfield and has gotten arguably outplayed in each of its first three games by the opposition’s offensive line. Other than Sean Spence, the linebacking has been inconsistent, although freshman Denzel Perryman has shown signs of being a future impact player at the position.
- Special teams continues to be a bright spot for the team. Although Jake Wieclaw’s kickoffs were shorter than usual, the kickoff coverage was very good and UM continues to win the field position battle in that regard, although it wasn’t necessarily a pronounced advantage in this game. Wieclaw has also done well kicking field goals and extra points, while Dalton Botts has done a nice job getting good hang time on his punts. Travis Benjamin’s returns were solid as well in this game too.
- Lamar Miller’s shoulder injury has to be of great concern to everyone associated with UM football, and with Bethune-Cookman up next before the team’s most important game of the year at Virginia Tech, it shouldn’t be suprising if Miller sits out against the Wildcats. Miller was held in check for most of the game against Kansas State as they focused a good deal on stopping him, but his presence allowed Jacory Harris and the passing game to make some big gains, particularly in the second half.
- The playcalling on the first-and-goal at the two yard line wasn’t bad on offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s part, but the execution obviously can be called into question. Clive Walford dropped what likely would have been a touchdown (although the throw was by no means perfect from Jacorry Harris). The most galling part of the series of play were the second and third down runs from Mike James. UM clearly has more talent on along its offensive line than Kansas State does along its defensive line, and if given two tries, UM should be able to get two yards in that situation, plain and simple. The fourth down play call of a shovel pass was innovative (Harris specifically mentioned in his postgame interview that the defensive end actually getting a bad jump caused the play to be blown up – Source: www.hurricanes.cstv.com), but it was doomed once Miller was bottled up inside.
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