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photo courtesy of hurricanesports.com
photo courtesy of hurricanesports.com

Commentary: The Beast: The Start of 2014 Looked a lot Like 2013

Granted a lot of the names on both sides of the field had changed, but Miami and Louisville looked a lot like the ‘Canes and Cards from December in the Russell Athletic Bowl. What is actually more worrisome, if you’re a ‘Canes fan, is that Louisville’s best WR and arguably their best RB didn’t play against Miami on Labor day night.

Maybe I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but I will continue to shout from the mountain top that if Jake Heaps were healthy, he would have and SHOULD HAVE started the game on Monday night. Brad Kaaya did some nice things, but he also made a lot of freshman mistakes. Now some of you would say that it’s better he makes those mistakes now, and gets the growing process going. If Heaps were healthy, I would have sent him out there, at least knowing he would be under center not thinking about first-game jitters. But…..that’s a conversation that really can’t be had since we’ll never really know if Heaps is healthy or not.

The biggest thing for Miami was their continuation from 2013 when it came to third-down conversions. Miami converted on third down just once on Monday night. They converted on a combined 1-of-24 against Louisville in the last two games. That’s unacceptable. Miami was 96th in the nation in third-down conversions in 2013, and if that doesn’t improve, 2014 is going to go much the same way. The lack of third-down conversions not only kills the offense’s confidence, and limits your ability to score, but it gets your defense word down in a hurry as they don’t have time to catch their breath in between series. We saw that Monday night as Miami’s defense, which I thought played pretty decent early on, especially against the run, started to develop holes later in the game.

I don’t think it was a great night for the coaching staff either. There were still times when I thought there was a bit too much soft zone played by Coach D’Onofrio’s defense. I thought he did make some adjustments though, and obviously the pressure up front, including the four sacks, was a much needed boost.

I thought James Coley had a very conservative game plan, but can you blame him considering he was dealing with a QB that was at his high school prom a few months ago? The biggest problem was that Miami’s offensive line, once again expected to be a strength of the team, did not do a great job of opening holes for Duke Johnson. Now, give credit to Louisville’s defense as they stacked the box with big nasties, but Miami’s big guys up front didn’t help matters much either. I’m sure Al Golden and Art Kehoe will be evaluating that offensive line to see if there are some guys they can plug in that can get the job done.

Al Golden is the man that is coaching special teams. They gave up a huge kick return that broke the camel’s back. Obviously someone missed an assignment, but, still, the head coach is ultimately responsible for what goes on on the field. On a positive note, I though that Vogel and Goudis did a nice job punting and kicking. I would have liked to see Golden give Goudis a try with what would have been a 49 or 50 yarder when it was 4th and 4. He believed that picking up four yards was easier than getting the long field goal. I disagreed at the time, but seeing Phil Dorsett running wide open means they had the right play call, but putting a freshman quarterback in that situation was a tough gamble.

Some positives moving forward: Brad Kaaya is only going to get better. The kid looks like he’s got the goods and fits the part. I think it’s just a matter of getting experience and gaining the trust of James Coley so that the offense is opened up a bit. You have to get the ball to Dorsett and Coley who had a combined four catches for 48 yards. This team can’t win without those play makers being able to make plays.

Despite the stats on the page in the end, I thought the defense did some nice things. I really though the intensity they played with early and some of the stops they made showed growth. Now, obviously there is still a ways to go, but considering where they are coming from-I’ll take it.

The best thing is that, despite the short week, Miami has FAMU on Saturday and will hopefully be able to work out the kinks. Atleast Kaaya got his first start out of the way, in a tough road environment, and walking into the stadium in Lincoln in a few weeks won’t rattle him.

Bring on the game where you don’t want to leave your seat at halftime!

About Brian London

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