September 18, 2012
Here are some of my thoughts and observations following Miami’s 38-10 win over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday:
- It goes without saying following a four-touchdown performance, but Duke Johnson is simply sensational. Having said that, credit should also go to the coaching staff for resisting the temptation to overuse him and hand him the ball 30 times a game-so far. Mike James has quietly been pretty good so far primarily handling the inside running, with Johnson handling the periphery. Although he returned a kickoff for a touchdown this week, it would be preferable to take Johnson off of the kickoff return team simply because of the threat of injury.
- It’s a good thing Johnson had the game he had, because Stephen Morris played his worst game in a Miami Hurricanes uniform. Morris had been accurate and decisive with his throws in the first two games, even in the blowout loss to Kansas State, but he was neither on this day. His throws were consistently high and he mysteriously looked like he lacked confidence, perhaps born out by the fact the offensive line didn’t protect him very well in the first two games. He’ll have to play as well as he did in the first two contests for Miami to have a chance in Atlanta on Saturday against Georgia Tech.
- Jedd Fisch’s playcalling can certainly be called into question the last couple of games. Fisch, in his year and change as UM’s offensive coordinator, has generally called a good game, but there have simply been too many horizontal passes and too many plays that could be described as “cute” so far this season. Morris’ statistics bear out the fact that the passing game is too focused on short passes (at one point Morris had about 25 yards on 15 passes on Saturday and his yards per completion and attempt in the first two games weren’t stellar either). It would be great, frankly, if Fisch could take a couple more shots downfield per game, particularly to Phillip Dorsett, just to keep opposing defenses honest.
- It was just Bethune-Cookman, but UM’s defense obviously played its best game of the season on Saturday, particularly in pass defense. It had a noticeably better pass rush, and its pass defense seemed much more organized. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes still had problems with the read option as they did the previous week against Kansas State, and they’ll clearly be in store for a heavy dose of the option when they face Georgia Tech this Saturday, though they’re obviously different types of option plays with some similarities.
- It'll take an even better effort for UM to remain in the contest with the Yellow Jackets on Saturday. Virginia, which likely has a better defense than UM, gave up 56 on Saturday to Georgia Tech. The key to stopping Tech's offense is strong play by defensive tackles, and that hasn't been Miami's strength this year. Additionally, it'll likely have to do without arguably its best defensive player, MLB Denzel Perryman. Further, in the past UM has had success going up against the Georgia Tech defense, but Al Groh looks to have that unit improved, as they've played well against Virginia Tech and Virginia this season. For UM to win, a lot of things have to go right: Morris must play as well as he did the first two games, UM's offensive line must do a good job against the numerous blitzes they're likely to see from Georgia Tech and UM's front seven has to play extremely disciplined assigment football against the Yellow Jackets' triple option attack.