Mike's Take: Wake Forest Game

The Hurricanes defeated Wake Forest by the score of 24-21 on Saturday. Read on for a game analysis by CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* Another week, another win. There is no such thing as an ugly win in college football anymore. The one negative part about these close games is that Miami's not being able to play a whole lot of players and a lot of younger guys aren't getting the game experience they'd be getting in games with bigger margins. Still, this now makes nine wins in a row for the Hurricanes. Like Al Golden said after the game, the whole program is spent -- physically from these close games and emotionally because of all the NCAA stuff that's now in the rear view mirror. Winning this game was not going to be easy because of those things. Remember, this is a Wake team that beat two solid ACC opponents (Maryland and NC State) by double digits in their two previous games. They were probably better than people expected.

* This was the second straight game in which the offense turned to its running game to win the game for them. It's become very clear lately that when this team absolutely has to move the ball and score points, it doesn't turn it over to Stephen Morris. It turns it over to the backs and tight ends and offensive line. And it worked, again. It's not just the offensive line either. Look at the block Clive Walford made on Duke's first touchdown. Look at the block Stacy Coley made on the 2nd to last play, the one that got reviewed late. That's a team effort offensively.

* The Canes played poorly on defense in the first half but, as we've seen all season long, the coaching staff made good adjustments at halftime. Wake was 6-for-9 on third downs in the first half. They were 1-for-7 in the second. They gained 219 yards in the first half and just 155 in the second. There was a blown coverage on their long touchdown in the second half. That should not have happened. If you take away that play, Wake finished with just over 100 yards, didn't score any other points, and could not convert on third downs. That's a great job by Miami's defensive staff at halftime.

* Morris seemed to be healthiest he's been in awhile. He didn't seem to favor his ankle after any throws. His footwork was still sloppy on too many of his throws but he took good care of the football and made some quality throws. He's still having accuracy issues, however. Even the long touchdown to Herb Waters was underthrown, forcing Waters to slow down and have to wait for the ball. Again, Morris was better today but there's still a lot of room for improvement.

* After the way Dallas Crawford ran the ball against North Carolina last week a lot of people wondered if there would be more of an even split in offensive touches between he and Duke. 30 to 7 answers that question for you. Duke was excellent today. Although he seemed to get dinged up a bit at the end of the game, he carried the load. He proved today that he doesn't have to be the home run hitter all the time. His longest run today was 23, although he came close to breaking a few. It's unfortunate that his 30-carry game came a week before Florida State but it sure was nice to see him back at full strength today.

* Oddly, the running backs continue to be a total non-factor in the passing game. While Maurice Hagens caught a pass from the fullback spot, the running backs didn't catch a single pass. That's been a common theme all season, which is tough to figure out since both Johnson and Crawford are talented pass-catchers who can make people miss in the open field. Either Morris simply doesn't want to them or it's just not really part of the offensive game plan.

* Aside from winning the game the best part of the day was probably when Allen Hurns returned after going into the locker room before halftime with what appeared to be a hip injury. Miami's receiving corps is very thin, and losing him would've been a major blow. Not only did he came back into the game but he caught some passes in the second half.

* This was another very solid performance by Clive Walford at tight end. Sure, he dropped a pass but he also had a great one-handed catch that went for a first down. He was blocking his butt off all day, too. Interestingly, the tight ends caught two other passes but both went to Asante Cleveland and not Beau Sandland. Cleveland actually had three targets while Sandland had zero. If you would've told me back in the summer that Sandland, the nation's top Juco pass-catching tight end prospect last year, would be getting zero targets in the 7th game of the season I would've called you crazy. That's very surprising to me.

* Kudos to the offensive line. Morris was sacked just once in 29 drop backs. And they opened up holes all day for the running backs to average 5.5 yards per carry. And that's with a long run of 23, which means there were a lot of 5, 6, 7 yard runs. Wake Forest DT Nakita Whitlock (#50) came into the game as one of the nation's most productive interior linemen in terms of making plays behind the line of scrimmage. While he was active and a load for Miami to handle, he didn't have a single play behind the line of scrimmage today. Again, that's a great job by Miami's front. Even though Brandon Linder went back inside to guard after starting the game at right tackle, he was back at tackle when the game was on the line. Flowers, Feliciano, McDermott, Wheeler, and Linder are the five UM seems to trust the most right now.

* Defensively, they simply could not get off the field on third down in the first half. The second half was a different story. They did an excellent job of shutting down Wake's ground game. Wake ran it 25 times but averaged just 2.4 yards per carry with a long run of just 14 yards. This defensive line is built to stop the run, and they certainly did a nice job of that today. Anthony Chickillo continues playing at a very high level. Despite not having top notch athleticism, he's everywhere. He never leaves the field either. What a player, what a leader. He's in the middle of a very good season. And Shayon Green's not far behind him. He went from being a lightly recruited linebacker who didn't see the field his first few years here to being a quality defensive end. Jethro Franklin deserves a lot of credit for that, too.

* Tackling seemed to be somewhat of an issue at linebacker today. Tyrone Cornileus made a very good play on the 4th quarter sack but he also missed the tackle on Wake's running back who scored their only second half touchdown. Denzel Perryman had just six stops and zero behind the line of scrimmage. Especially since Wake ran it 25 times, you'd like to see a player of his caliber more active in a game like that.

* Michael Campanero is a dynamite player for Wake. He's their best offensive player, and he caught 10 passes for several first downs and a touchdown. Unfortunately, it was the second straight week that Miami's defense was unable to slow down the opponent's top player. Last week it was UNC tight end Eric Ebron. Today it was number 3 for them. That was discouraging but he was held to just one catch over the final 20 minutes of the game.

* After Matt Goudis missed the field goal attempt in the first half, I wonder how much that played a role in Al Golden's decision to go for a 4th and 1 deep in Wake territory. It's not like this was a shootout. This was a close game, a low scoring game, and Golden passed up what appeared to be a chip shot field goal that would've cut Wake's lead to one point. Goudis has the leg but has been inconsistent all season.

* Pat O'Donnell was again a huge weapon. Four of his five kickoffs went as touchbacks. He averaged over 44 yards on four punts, and placed two inside the 20 (and one inside the five). He was outstanding today, and is probably the team's MVP lately. The Hurricanes have played two close games in a row and he's been clutch in both. It's hard to imagine if he hadn't made the transfer before the season.

* Bring on Florida State!

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