* I thought before the game the biggest keys were getting off the field on third down (defense) and not turning the ball over (offense). Had Morris not thrown both picks, which both led to FSU points, it could have been a different game offensively. And FSU converted 11 of its first 13 third down attempts. They entered the game No. 1 in the nation, so you knew they were very good at keeping drives alive. They were outstanding last night. Another big key ended up being how Miami's defense couldn't make the plays inside the redzone. FSU scored on all six of their redzone opportunities (four touchdowns and two field goals). It's hard to be average teams when they convert 11 of 13 third downs and 6-of-6 in the redzone. Very hard. Forget about trying to beat an excellent team in their house when that happens.
* This should be a good learning experience for Miami's entire team. They haven't played in too many of these games. No one on the roster (including the head coach) had played in a prime time game between a couple Top 10 teams. They've worked really hard to get to this point and it's games like these that help a team learn how to win them. Think about the 1999 team. That group had taken its lumps in recent years. They really grew up in losses at Florida State and Virginia Tech that year. Those games prepared them for future games like that. I think this one could be similar.
* Stephen Morris could have played better, especially when the opponent has a freshman who played much better. People talk about him being a top flight NFL prospect. A QBR of 52.1 is the stat line of a freshman in this type of game. Morris is a senior. We can continue talking about the ankle all we want. That seems like a non-issue now that we're 8 games into his senior season and he seems to still miss. He made some big time throws. Both touchdown passes -- especially the second one -- were outstanding. He had 3 or 4 drops on a night when he threw just 12 incompletions. However, I'd like to see him making better decisions and spreading the ball around more in the ACC games down the stretch.
* Tough loss on Duke. He was running hard last night. He was finding holes, trusting his blockers, and finishing his runs. That's a really unfortunate break for him and the entire offense. It also raises an injury issue with him since it's the 3rd game he's been knocked out of this season. I trust that he'll come back at full strength and be better than ever in 2014.
* Allen Hurns played a great football game. In an offense in which everyone talks about Duke and the loss of Dorsett and the ability of Morris, Hurns continues making play after play after play. A major issue right now is not having any legit No. 2. Without Dorsett, teams don't fear Miami deep. Coley broke open twice last night and shows flashes. Being a freshman, he's done really well and has a very bright future here. My concern is that, aside from Coley, this current regime hasn't signed a single difference maker at WR in their first three classes. Dorsett was technically in that first class but he was a Shannon commitment. After those 3, no one else is ready for this type of game. Looking ahead to 2014, especially in a year where the starting QB will likely be a game manager type instead of a gunslinger, having WR weapons emerge will be a major priority.
* It wasn't Cllive Walford's night. He struggled with his blocking, he had a couple drops, a penalty, and a couple receptions that could have gone for more yards (and first downs) had he not bobbled the football. At what point do some of those targets start going to Beau Sandland. I'm confused at how UM thought they signed the top Juco TE in America, get him in for all of spring and summer, and then throw him the ball only a handful of times through the first 8 games of the season. He saw one target last night. I'd like to see him more involved in the passing game.
* UM's offensive line played OKl, I thought. No penalties (with a record crowd at FSU), 2 sacks on 30 pass attempts (and only 1 hurry), 3 negative runs on 26 carries, and the RB's averaged 3.8 per carry. It was a solid performance. Sure, it can be better but they were certainly ready. And once FSU got up a couple scores the UM offense was forced to be one-dimensional, which took Miami away from its strength up front (smash mouth football that can take over late in games).
* The defensive line played poorly. They were pushed around on a consistent basis by FSU's offensive line, gave up 4.5 yards per carry, couldn't get the short yardage stops, and finished the game with no sacks. For a unit that's built around stopping the run (2 big, powerful ends, massive inside guys) with some pass rushing heat (the only primary responsibility for both McCord and Quan), this unit did not even come close to getting it done. Considering how much the main guys are playing over the younger guys, it speaks volumes of how far away some of the younger guys are (since they can't even see the field). It doesn't bode well for the prospects of guys like Dwayne Hoilett, Earl Moore, Corey King, and Jelani Hamilton -- all guys that should be counted on based on next year's depth chart. UM needs a lot of help here, and fast. I'd like them to sign 3 or 4 Juco kids, and hope that 2 or 3 get in and 1 or 2 are legit players who can help right away in 2014.
* Denzel Perryman was all over the place again. He finished with 11 tackles, and I thought he played pretty well. Jimmy Gaines is like having a coach on the field but there's a reason why he doesn't make a whole lot of plays despite being such a smart kid. Physically, he's limited and it gets exposed against teams like FSU. Again, UM needs a lot of recruiting help at this spot.
* Deon Bush seemed to play his best game of the season last night. He seems more healthy than he's been all season, and seems to be settling in. Kacy Rodgers, who wasn't even on the injury report Thursday, didn't see the field. UM could use his experience out there.
* Pat O'Donnell averaged over 53 yards per punt, and put one inside the 20. Without Duke, you could make the argument that he's Miami's best player right now. After the miss by Matt Goudis, Golden decided to go for it on 4th down in the FSU redzone. That was likely due to lack of trust in his kicker in that spot. It's tough to win close games when your kicker is struggling.
* Bring on Virginia Tech -- the biggest game of Miami's season and perhaps the most important in Golden's 3 years here up until now. If the Canes win on Saturday, it'll give them a 2-game lead on both VT and GT (and then the Duke game will become the game of the year. You get the picture). VT is huge, and I trust that the team will be ready to play.