K9Cane Korner - Canes Get Kelly Tough

K9Cane Korner - Canes Get Kelly Tough

Can we all admit that despite some of the early setbacks in this 2014 season, this Miami Hurricane football team is improving? They put up perhaps their most complete three-dimensional performance( offense, defense and special teams) in some time in dominating the North Carolina Tar Heels by a score of 47-20 in a game that wasn't even that close.

Yeah, the Canes got 'Kelly Tough' this afternoon where they honored Hurricane greats Jim Kelly, Russell Maryland and Jerome Brown, in what was an ode to past greats that wore the orange and green.

I'll say it right now( and I'll use a boxing term) but they have a punchers chance on the night of November 15th versus FSU at Sun Life Stadium. This team is playing with more confidence than at anytime this year, have athletes across the board, have a franchise player in Duke Johnson that is playing as well as any player in the country and a quarterback( Brad Kaaya) that keeps improving every week. Also a defense that seems to be finding itself.

Some thoughts on this game....

- OK, yeah, some of the past defensive performances this year were mirages. They beat up on tomato cans and padded stats. But coming in the consensus was that UNC was at the very least a high-powered offense that was going to give Mark D'onofrio's unit fits. Well, from the very beginning of the game they were throttled. Again, wont get into the schematics of our defense - as usual, I'll let the gurus on this board break that down - but I do think our defenders are playing faster and more decisively.

The boundary corner blitz has become more and more prevalent and Artie Burns( who is coming on real strong week after week) and Corn Elder both had sacks. Overall, I see Miami dialing up more blitzes and a variety of them. I saw a delayed blitz in the A-gap from Darrion Owens that caused some pressure in the first half. UM is not a team that can consistently create pressure with their front four but in recent weeks they do seem to be doing different things upfront.

Like many others I thought UM would win this game by a score of like 48-38, where the game wasn't in doubt till the last possesion or two. Well, the defense made sure that UNC was never really a threat by consistently forcing the Tar Heels to punt and giving the ball back to the Miami offense. My hats off to this unit.

- Tyriq McCord is playing the best ball of his Miami career. He'll never be a guy that will be the most stout holding the edge on run plays but that's not his game. Let him pin his ears back and come downhill on the quarterback and he'll be a guy that will cause some problems. It's really a shame he was never given an opportunity to redshirt back in 2013. It's too bad we never got to see him and AQM together on the field at the same time this season.

- Susan Miller Dergan has to be happy with how well Justin Vogel has become a weapon as a punter. This guy is really surging and his directional punting has really improved the past month. He doesn't have the pure leg strength of Pat O'Donnell, but I think his ability to coffin corner kicks is actually superior.

- Is it too late to start the Heisman campaign for Duke Johnson? Today he had 19 carries for 177( including a 90-yard jaunt) and two scores, including a 37 yard screen pass for a score - in what basically amount to one half of football. He is now Miami's second all-time leading rusher behind the great Ottis Anderson. Yeah, I understand the Tar Heels weren't lining up Robert Quinn and Quintin Coples out there but this guy is playing at an incredibly high level and sometimes you just have to enjoy greatness when you see it. I'm a realist, I know his tenure at Miami is coming to an end in about five games, lets just appreciate what 8-Ball has meant to this program.

As Kool Moe Dee once said so famously,"It irks my nerve," when I keep hearing about how Johnson beats up on bad teams. Well, last I checked he's never been on the 86 'Canes, either. If there has been a defining player of the Al Golden era, it's been this guy. I don't know where he ranks among the pantheon of Edgerring James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Mel Bratton and Willis McGahee, but it says here that he absolutely belongs in the class.

- It's interesting about Brad Kayaa, while his numbers have gone down the last game or two, he's actually played in a way that leaves you more impressed. Today he only threw 17 times but had 189 yards and three scores. But he's become more adept at protecting the ball and delivering it to our playmakers or just making sound decisions. As I said after the Vatech game, sometimes you have to watch the game because stats don't always tell the whole story. For what Miami has tried to do recently( rely on Duke) he's been the perfect QB in many ways.

- This O-line despite it's injuries played another solid game and one again, credit has to go to Art Kehoe, who has had to shuffle his unit and play some really young guys. Sonny Odogwu looked like an African version of Ricky Perry on the sack-fumble-TD and was quickly replaced by Trevor Darling RT, who seemed to do well. I'll say this, I really love the future of this unit and it's developed some real depth for the future. Some young guys have really stepped up and played well. And I think Jon Feliciano has made some real money for himself this season by showing some real versatility.

With a bye week coming up, this unit has a chance to try and develop some continuity going into the Noles showdown. I think this time will be invaluable for Darling( who I think has a real upside).

- Speaking of awards, but shouldn't Clive Walford be up for consideration for the Mackey Award? This guy was great today, catching the ball cleanly, making guys miss and rumbling upfield. He has really turned into an elite college tight end and he and Kaaya have a certain chemistry.

- I know people have made fun of the recent sideline histrionics of Al Golden. Honestly, I like it. Is he fighting for his job or feeling the pressure? Who knows, but I think his emotion is clearly evident and rubbing off on his players. Sports is about emotion and momentum and right now, Miami has some. I've felt that Golden needed to be less 'corporate' and I like this guy who's willing to cut loose a bit. Football, more than any other game is about spirit and playing loose. You play how you are coached and perhaps, just maybe, this staff is getting better and it's coming together.

My one pet peeve from a coaching standpoint today is once again we had another delay of game penalty coming after a kick( after the safety) on first down. Yeah, maybe Golden has a point about the play-clock being wound too early, but this is at least the third time it's happened this season. Coach, you have to adjust and perhaps you should just tell James Coley( who is also developing as a play-caller) to trot out your offense earlier. Just my opinion, as soon as it went to 1st and 15, it forced Miami to pass and well, you know what happened after that...

- And finally, what a great way to pay tribute to Jim Kelly. No, the crowd wasn't the greatest( hey, it never is for early afternoon games at Sun Life Stadium) but you could feel the love for a true 'Cane great. I feel that without this strong arm kid from Pennsylvania that JoePa wanted as a linebacker that there is no Miami program as we know it. It was he that began the tradition of 'QB U' and the dynastic run that soon followed it. It was Kelly that began the tradition of alums coming back to the sideline and keeping ties with the players still at Coral Gables. He never won a national title at Miami but it was guys like him that laid the foundation for them.

Today was a proper tribute to him and past Hurricane greats.

Comments (18)

Agreed, nice to see positive vibe and signs of individual and team improvement.
That dude is such a boring, self-important blowhard. His football 'analysis' isn't markedly better than DBC's or one of the prepubescent kids on CIS, but he's been cranking out the unreadable bilge for over a decade, while seemingly under the impression that he's some big time writer.

Basically a teriyaki Joe Casale.
No "yeah, but" after this one. The Canes played a solid game.
Too bad that Pitt kicker had to put a damper on a great afternoon.

I'll see you guys at Sun Life in 2 weeks.
Best write up yet K9. Still think we need better position coaches if they arent going to can Albert. If we ever want to be elite again that is.
Thanks for a great write up. I might also add that we have found a kicker for 4 years.
Thanks for a great write up. I might also add that we have found a kicker for 4 years.

Spike, I like Badgley but I still think UM needs to find a guy for kickoffs that can consistently boot it deeper into the endzone...
Very good write up. I agree with you about Golden actually showing some emotion on the sideline. I don't care if it's because he might get canned I think it is fueling the team.
Thanks for a great write up. I might also add that we have found a kicker for 4 years.

Spike, I like Badgley but I still think UM needs to find a guy for kickoffs that can consistently boot it deeper into the endzone...

Badgley will get stronger over time, he is a true freshmen. I wonder if Goudis will have a job next year...
Steve as always your insight is second to none. You were the 1st one to tell me about Kaayay long before he committed and you were right about him. I agree about the punchers chance vs FSU as I started a thread a couple weeks ago about it. They are beatable by someone so " WHY NOT US "
Was on a cruise and didn't get a chance to read until now. Another great write up. Thanks. I agree with most all points. Just don't trust the staff, so I am staying away from Koolaide this year.