Mike's Thoughts: FSU game

Read on to see what CanesTime's Mike Bakas was saying about the team's loss to Florida State last night.

* Lets start out by stating the obvious -- Florida State is simply a better football team right now. They are bigger, faster, more talented, deeper, and more experienced. There's no debating that. UM kept it close because of some gutsy performances, some FSU mistakes early on, and the fact that UM is a tough, well-coached team. However, the game played out like I thought it would.

* The gap between the two teams is probably two years. Like Kirk Herbstreit pointed out a few times on the telecast last night, come watch this team two years from now and it'll be a whole different story. In addition to being able to develop the current youngsters, Golden and his staff will be able to continue leveling things out with a couple more recruiting classes. The Canes are off to a great start this year, with a stronger current class than the one FSU has, and so it likely won't be long. Remember, UM lost 47-0 in 1997 when Butch Davis was here. Three years later UM won the game and had the best team in college football. The gap right now isn't nearly as big as it was in 97, so if Golden can continue developing and recruiting well then it won't be long.

* The biggest key on offense for Miami was getting the running game going. I made a post on here Friday that said if the Canes can't get the ground game going, it'll likely lose by three touchdowns. Well, that happened. I am a bit surprised at how little of a commitment the Canes made to running it. This was still a game a few minutes into the 4th quarter, and UM had a hobbled quarterback. However, UM chose to throw it twice as much as they ran it. I didn't agree with that philosophy, and thought they got away from the run too early and didn't make a strong enough commitment to it. If you're going to start a 270-pound tight end who has 1 or 2 career catches and a 270-pound fullback who has just a few touches in his entire career, why get away from running the ball?

* I thought Stephen Morris turned in a very gutsy performance. However, he didn't play well. I'm not sure how much the ankle and hip limited him physically but he made a lot of mistakes. He missed a lot of reads and missed a lot of throws to open receivers. If UM wasn't going to commit to running the ball and FSU was forcing Morris to beat them underneath then why not give Ryan Williams a few chances? The offense had gained about 150 yards when the game started getting out of hand.

* Mike James was clearly Miami's best offensive weapon in this game, and I think that's a for a combination of reasons. One, Duke Johnson still doesn't seem to be fully healthy. He simply lacks the burst I saw in him for three years at Norland High and what everyone here saw early in the season. Two, the tight ends simply are a non-factor in the passing game. And thirdly, there isn't a true number one receiver. It's by-committee and the top guy seems to change on a weekly basis. Put all those things together and it's easy to see how a solid, yet unspectacular, running back can be so much more effective than everyone else on his side of the ball.

* The offensive line has played pretty well this season. We found out last night that a big reason for that was because of the competition they'd been playing against. While they could push BC, GT, and NC State around, and had some success against UNC and Notre Dame, they simply were overmatched by the first top notch defensive front they saw all season. Four sacks, some penalties, and the inability to sustain blocks and open holes were some of the reasons why this unit struggled like it did.

* The defensive line got pushed around quite a bit again. E.J. Manuel threw it 31 times and was only sacked once by the front 4. Fortunately for UM, Tyriq McCord caused a turnover on the play but the lack of a pass rush really hasn't changed all season. And the interior guys continue getting pushed around. FSU averaged almost six yards per carry while using several different running backs.

* For those wondering why Denzel Perryman was moved to the outside during practices leading up to the game, are you still asking that? He finished with 12 tackles, caused a fumble, and simply is Miami's best defensive player no matter where you put him. He's the type of player who could have been a difference maker on even some of the great UM defenses over the last 20 years. He's a very good player and will have a chance to become one of the nation's best by next season -- whether he's playing inside or outside.

* The middle linebacker (Jimmy Gaines) getting just six tackles has just as much to do with the guys in front of him getting manhandled as it does for his lack of playmaking ability. It's making life tough on the linebackers, but Gaines seems to be at least a decent player inside.

* How many more times can Kalvin Benjamin push off on Ladarius Gunter without getting called? Wow.

* Deon Bush is going to be one heck of a player one day. He's not ready yet though, just like Ed Reed wasn't ready when he was a freshman playing on a poor defense. However, after Bush, this is probably the least talented group of safeties that UM's had in 30 years. UM could even use a Jeff Popovich back there right now.

* The bye week will be much needed for this team. They're banged up and probably ready to take a break from game action for an extra few days. It'll also give them a few extra days to prepare for what will be a HUGE game against Virginia Tech. The Hokies are solid and well-coached as always but it's certainly not the same Hokie team we're used to seeing. UM will have a great chance to win the game and go one step closer to winning the Coastal Division. Wins over VT, UVA, and Duke would accomplish that and so the VT game becomes the biggest of the Al Golden era so far.

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