Mike's Take: Va Tech Game

The Hurricanes lost a very important conference game to Virginia Tech on Saturday night. Read on for a complete game analysis from CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* It was a bad night for the Hurricanes. There's no other way to put it. This was the 33rd game of the Al Golden era. It was a home game against a Virginia Tech team that had lost its last two games. It was a chance for Miami, despite getting blown out last week, to take control of the ACC Coastal Division. A lot was at stake. The result? A blowout loss. Unfortunately, this game wasn't a whole lot different than the one Miami played against Virginia Tech in Randy Shannon's third season at Miami. Both were blowout losses.

* The one thing I've noticed about this team, especially in this game, is how little excitement they seem to show on the football field -- especially on defense. It almost seems like the mentality is just don't make mistakes. I heard Mark D'Onofio before the game talk about how his defense wore down against FSU in the second half. He said a lot of it was because they were using the same regular guys in the second half of that game because "some younger guys made some mistakes early on in that game" and basically were removed from the rotation because of it. That's bothersome. Say what you want about Mark D'Onofrio and his schemes. Say what you want about the players in it. The thing that probably worries me most is it looks like his entire defensive unit is playing and just trying not to make mistakes. Maybe that's the new brand of Miami football -- it's just frustrating because we're seeing the product of what's being put on the field.

* Offensively, I was very surprised that Miami didn't try to come out and establish the line of scrimmage -- especially considering the weather conditions. The play calling in the first quarter suggests that a strong enough commitment probably wasn't made to the running game. Aside from a few passes on the final drive (when the game was out of hand), the running backs are still not getting any looks in the passing game. The whole offense just seemed out of synch again.

* Stephen Morris made some big time throws in the game. A few of his balls were also dropped. He took good care of the football. However, he still isn't the same quarterback that we came to expect. Comparing him now to this time last year is like night and day.

* Dallas Crawford played one heck of a game against North Carolina. We saw tonight, however, what happens when this team faces an elite defense without Duke Johnson. 17 carries for 50 yards is what the two running backs accomplished in this game. Eduardo Clements, strangely, has become a complete non-factor in this offense.

* The strong senior season from Allen Hurns continued. He's been rock solid all season, and tonight was no different. Stacy Coley continues to show flashes. They're still missing Phillip Dorsett's ability to stretch the field but this group of receivers played pretty well.

* Clive Walford's struggles continued. He was dropping and juggling balls again tonight. I'm confused as to why UM signed a pass-catching tight end last year when all they're using him for is to block. Beau Sandland was on the field a lot -- as is always the case -- but continues getting no looks in the passing game. For as little as he's being used compared to how many snaps he's getting (as a blocker), why did UM take a pass-catching TE prospect instead of a blocking tight end? Either they took the wrong type of tight end from the Juco ranks last recruiting season or they're severely under-utilizing Sandland right now. It's probably been a combination of both.

* The offensive line got it handed to them tonight. The running backs averaged under three yards per carry and Morris was sacked three times. Ereck Flowers and Brandon Linder continue playing really well. The others struggled against a very good front for the Hokies.

* Anthony Chickillo and Shayon Green continue playing high effort football. They play hard, give strong effort, and they've both made a decent amount of plays because of it. Unfortunately, they're a bit one-dimensional as defensive ends. They can only have a limited impact. I was a bit surprised to see Olsen Pierre (who was involved in a very heated exchange on the sideline with Curtis Porter following one of VT's touchdowns) lined up as a defensive end on several snaps when UM was in a 4-man front. The fact that guys like Earl Moore and Ufomba Kamalu and Jelani Hamilton can't break into the rotation in this defensive line is very discouraging, and I've said that before.

* Denzel Perryman was, again, all over the field. I think he was credited with 15 tackles and a couple sacks. He's started probably 30 games here. He was probably the team's leading tackler in about 22-24 of those games and most were as an outside guy. I'll say a few things about Denzel -- 1) he continues being Miami's biggest playmaker on defense, 2) he continues showing more emotion and frustration following opposing touchdowns than anyone else, and 3) we better enjoy these last few games from him. He's going to make a fine pro, and there's a good chance it'll start in 2014.

* The lack of playmakers in the secondary is still troubling. A.J. Highsmith will not blow assignments, and is always in the right spot. Having said that, it's unfortunate that UM doesn't have superior athletes who can play over him at that position right now.

* Pat O'Donnell might be the best player on the team right now. Three of his five kickoffs went for touchbacks and he averaged almost 56 yards on his five punts! That's an incredible night. Sure, it was unfortunate that his knee hit the ground on that one play but that was a bad snap (as Al Golden pointed out in the post-game). Can you imagine if UM was getting average production from this position this season? It might be 5-4 right now. Instead, they're getting elite production. What a weapon he's been, and what a tremendous transfer it turned out to be for the Canes.

* This is a bottom line business. Virginia Tech was one of the worst teams in America on the offensive side of the ball. On the road, and in the rain, they took it to Miami's defense. No turnovers, only four negative plays, 57-percent on third down, and they scored touchdowns on their first four trips to the redzone. Those are very good numbers against a Miami defense that is quickly heading back to the bottom of the league.

* It's a very frustrating loss. Unfortunately, this team has a lot of holes that were really exposed the last two weeks. It won't get any easier next week at Duke, which beat Virginia Tech last week.

* Speaking of Duke, bring them on!

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