Here are some of my thoughts and observations following Miami's 23-19 loss to Florida State on Saturday:
- Saturday's loss to Florida State might not have been more dissapointing than the loss to Virginia, but it was close. It's not that UM lost so much as the way they lost-sloppy play, lack of discipline, and turnovers- that really is disheartened. The Hurricanes, much like last year have all a lot of talent, and this team simply shouldn't be 5-5 even with the early season suspensions.
- Defensively, Miami actually turned in a great performance, in what was one of its best efforts of the year along with the performances against Ohio State and Georgia Tech this season. Florida State really managed only 13 offensive points, with the other 10 coming off of a punt return and Travis Benjamin's muffed punt. It's an encouraging sign for a defense that has been criticized for being too passive. There were more five man rushes than there have been all year, and that seemed to be fairly effective. The rushing defense was also strong.
- Jacory Harris didn't have one of his better games this season, and even then he was still effective. What's even more impressive is that he did this in the second half with back spasms.
- I understand the need to get Stephen Morris some repetitions at quarterback, particularly with any hopes of an ACC Championship having been dashed, but I think the manner by which the coaching staff is getting him those repetitions is interrupting the flow of the offense. Playcalls seem to be too obvious when Morris is in the game, even though he's not really a read option quarterback as he's been playing. Overall though, other than the random plays were Morris is placed into the game, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has been outstanding calling plays this year for the Hurricanes.
- Special teams were uncharacteristically poor, and were one of the biggest reasons why Miami lost the game. It could have even been worse had Florida State not gotten nabbed with a holding call on the first play of the second half as FSU would have scored on a kickoff return for a touchdown in addition to Greg Reid's punt return for a touchdown late in the first half. Add that to Travis Benjamin's muff of a punt in the first half, and it wasn't a great day for UM special teams, and that's an area that's been a great strength for UM this season.
- Miami needs to be very careful against USF. Losing to the Bulls twice in a row would immediately put heat on Al Golden and the perception of the program would be turn decidedly more negative. It might also hurt some in recruiting to lose to USF once again as well. It doesn't seem like much, but UM can get the momentum of the program headed back in the right direction with wins in its last two games over South Florida, Boston College, and a presumed bowl game which they would be eligible for should they win one of their last two games.