Here are some of my thoughts and observations on Miami's 45-14 win over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday:
- Miami's effort was fairly flat through much of the game, though the Hurricanes did perform better out of halftime. It's somewhat expected given the tough loss last week to Kansas State and the upcoming trip to Virginia Tech the following week, but the performance wasn't good enough, particularly defensively.
- Miami gave up over 400 yards, and Bethune-Cookman had 24 first downs in the game (as opposed to Miami's 15, though much of that is attributable to the fact that UM hit on a couple of big plays for scores). The team has major issues with its run defense and seems to really struggle in particular with the read option out of the shotgun. Miami gets no push from its defensive line, and its linebackers seem to be out of position at times as well (although Sean Spence has been very good since returning from his one-game suspension).
- Jacory Harris has shown noticeable improvement in the last two games following the Ohio State game. He has been much more judicious in his reads and has tucked the ball and ran more than we've seen in the past. This might be because he's got Stephen Morris as an insurance policy as opposed to last season when Harris simply couldn't afford to get injured due to lack of depth at the position.
- Lamar Miller should have sat out the Bethune-Cookman game, as it's clear he's not 100 percent with a shoulder injury. This is especially true given that Miami's next three games against Coastal Division foes Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech will essentially determine its season. It was very nice to see Eduardo Clements get some carries as he showed a good burst, and one wonders whether or not he'll get some carries in the Hurricanes' upcoming games and/or whether or not he'll take some from Mike James, who is also battling an injury.
- A couple of the short-yardage plays weren't good enough from Miami. Twice on a 3rd and 1, UM opted to throw instead of run, and both times the plays were unsuccessful. Especially against a team such as Bethune-Cookman, Miami simply has to be able to gain a yard running straight ahead. It was a glairing problem that cost them a game against Kansas State, and it could do so again if the issue isn't fixed. Involving the fullbacks (and if it's short enough of a distance-quarterbacks on sneaks) and utilizing more straight ahead plays might help the problem.
- Although Virginia Tech's loss to Clemson lessens the absolute need to win this game, there's a very good chance that UM has to win this game to compete for the ACC Coastal Division title this year. If it were to lose, it would essentially two games behind the Hokies when the tiebreakers are factored in. They would also be two games back in the loss column of Georgia Tech, who they will also likely need to beat in a couple of weeks, and they'd be behind North Carolina as well. The bottom line is that UM almost certainly needs to beat Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and may need to beat North Carolina as well depending on how the rest of the Tar Heels' season plays out given Miami's opening loss in the conference to Maryland which has put them in a bit of a hole.
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