Mike's Take: Ga Tech Game

The Canes defeated Georgia Tech Saturday by the score of 45-30. Read on for a game analysis from CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* Big win for the Hurricanes. Because of the offense Georgia Tech runs, you never know what to expect. Anytime a team has more rushing yards in college football over the last four seasons, you better be prepared. After a slow start, the Hurricanes took over the game in the second half. I saw good halftime adjustments, an offensive line that took over the game in the second half, and a team that showed that it's in top physical condition.

* Stephen Morris is hobbled. At one point in the game I wondered if they'd begin turning to Ryan Williams since all Morris seemed to be doing was handing the ball off, throwing interceptions, or throwing quick passes underneath. That all changed when he made the strong throw to Allen Hurns that ended up in a long touchdown. The bye week is huge for UM's quarterback. He needs some time off. I know people have wondered if this is something that will be an issue for the rest of the season. While it certainly could be, I think about two major positives in that regard -- the bye week and the fact that Morris was hobbled against Florida State last season and then came back to finish as one of the hottest quarterbacks in all of college football over the final few games of the season. Lets hope the same thing happens this season because he's certainly not himself right now.

* Duke was Duke. 27 touches is about as high as I can remember. Unlike the other games in which he's had over 20 touches, he seemed to make it through the game without any major bumps or bruises. He continues being a major difference maker. Many of us wondered what his role on kickoffs would be this season since he took over the running back position. Well, he's still an absolute game-changer there so I'm glad he's still doing that. He was good in the running game, good in pass pro, and good in the return game. He's playing at a very high level.

* Lets give Maurice Hagens some credit, too. He continues blocking his butt off and not many people outside of the team seem to notice, or mention him much. He also had a few touches today. He limped off at the end of the game. Lets hope that's nothing because he plays a major role in this offense right now.

* Dallas Crawford continues playing a big role. His ability to find paydirt down by the goal line is excellent. He has a knack for finding the endzone, a trait he displayed all the way back to his days as a prep quarterback.

* The receivers played very well. The trio who caught passes had 11 for close to 250 yards and a pair of scores. That's very good production. Herb Waters also played but didn't catch anything. The thing that continues to worry me, especially as we get deeper into the season, is how well this unit will hold up with just four primary guys. Malcolm Lewis continues seeing the field at times but is a total non-factor in the passing game. Plays simply aren't designed to go his way, Morris isn't looking his way, and he doesn't seem to be getting open on a regular basis. The top four have stayed healthy all season. If that changes, UM's passing game could be in a bit of trouble.

* I liked how much Clive Walford was involved in the passing game, especially early. In fact, he and the backs combined for six catches for around 70 yards and a touchdown. I said after the USF game that the backs and tight ends need to be more involved in the passing game -- especially since only four primary receivers are being used. Today, we saw that and it was impressive.

* Especially considering how much they were moving around, the offensive line played very well. Seantrel Henderson was suspended for the game, so the Canes were immediately without one of their top five guys. This unit didn't miss a beat, despite having to move Brandon Linder out to right tackle for a lot of the game. Jared Wheeler continues to show strong versatility. He played both guard spots today, and did so effectively. 45 for Ga Tech was talked about all week. He can change games with his pass rushing skills. He ran over Linder once for a sack but otherwise, he was very quiet.

* As long as Morris stays healthy, this offense should be able to move the ball and score against anyone left on the schedule. Florida State and Virginia Tech are the only two strong defenses left, and they happen to be two of the next three games. That's why getting Morris back healthy asap is so important.

* Defensively, UM didn't have an answer for anything GT was doing early in the game. Fortunately, they made very good halftime adjustments -- something this group of coaches seems to do on a regular basis. For those of you who are wondering how good Coach D and his staff are at making in-game adjustments, consider these numbers. On GT's five offensive possessions in the first half, they ran 43 plays for 244 yards and scored 17 points. Over their next five possessions to begin the 2nd half, they ran 29 plays for 99 yards and scored 7 points. That, flat out, is getting it done from a coaching standpoint.

* A lot of guys played well on this side of the ball. Because of the offense Ga Tech runs, guys like Chick and Shayon Green were on the field a lot of snaps and both played very well throughout the game. They both are in top notch physical condition. They combined for 14 tackles. I thought the most important play of the first half was Justin Renfrow knocking the ball out of GT's QB hand. That led to a Miami touchdown on a drive where GT appeared to be ready to add more points. While his name doesn't show up in the stat sheet very much, Curtis Porter continues to play really well. He's so tough to handle inside, and was a big difference -- especially in the 2nd half -- of this game compared to the one from last season. Tyriq McCord was again a beast off the edge when he knew GT was throwing the ball.

* The linebackers were all over the field, and didn't seem to make very many mistakes. They weren't out of position very often and they didn't miss many tackles. Denzel Perryman deserves credit for being all over the field again. And Jimmy Gaines deserves credit for getting the defense lined up the right way -- especially after Miami figured out what GT was doing in the 2nd half. I was surprised that Tyrone Cornileus -- not Thurston Armbrister or Alex Figueroa -- got the start as the 3rd 'backer.

* GT has no vertical passing game, so the defensive backs really weren't tested much. However, it was nice to see Ladarius Gunter so active. They tried him a few times, and it simply wasn't working. They stayed completely away from Tracy Howard. It was nice to see Gunter getting the pick six, something this team needs more of.

* The special teams units were rock solid again, minus the Dorsett muff. Matt Goudis did what he had to do. Pat O'Donnell was only asked to punt one time. Coverage units, despite GT's good return late, continue being rock solid.

* It was a solid win. I thought going into the game that the Canes would win by about two touchdowns, so the final score was about what I expected (even though GT scored the late garbage type touchdown). The bye week, even though it's the 2nd one already this season, couldn't come at a better time because of what I said about Morris and the offense. Lets hope he comes out 100-percent and we see the offense firing on all cylinders when they travel to UNC. The Tar Heels haven't looked good this season, but it's a Thursday night game on the road. Crazy things can happen.

* Bring on the Tar Heels!

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