Mike's Take: UVA Game

The Hurricanes defeated Virginia by the score of 45-26 Saturday. Read on for a game analysis by CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* It's nice to see Miami get back on the winning side of things today. While records don't always tell the real story, Virginia was clearly the worst team Miami's played since hosting Savannah State back in September. The Cavs dropped several passes, pulled its starting quarterback because he was so inaccurate all afternoon, finished the game with 10 penalties, and just looked sloppy from start to finish. Miami took advantage of those things and got the win. That's the most important part about today.

* In what's been a common theme in most of Miami's eight wins this season, it was an ugly win for the Canes. The rain may have contributed some to it but the Canes simply couldn't come close to dominating what's been a bad Virginia team all season long. UVA had won just two games all season and this was an 11-point game with eight minutes left in the game. It wasn't a dominating performance that a lot of Canes fan had hoped for.

* Offensively, the Hurricanes simply had no rhythm all afternoon. They averaged just 3.6 yards per carry on the ground, and Stephen Morris completed just 50-percent of his passes -- and only used three different receivers. The Canes converted just 36-percent on third down and turned the ball over twice.

* Morris struggled from the start. He was having a hard time completing the quick passes that are designed to be high percentage throws. He badly underthrew Allen Hurns on one play where a decent throw would have allowed Hurns to go for a long touchdown. Perhaps the strangest stat of all is that Morris completed passes to just three receivers on the day. He only threw one pass to the tight ends (incomplete because it was a very low throw to Clive Walford) and I don't remember him throwing at all to Herb Waters, who has been a steady performer at a very thin position for the Canes. This all came against a Virginia pass defense that was giving up just under 240 yards per game through the air and then lost its best player in the secondary to an ejection midway through the game.

* The trio of running backs carried the ball 23 times, and their longest run went for 16 yards. And that was against a UVA defense that came into the game giving up just under 190 yards per game on the ground. Dallas Crawford does so many things for this team. He can make an occasional guy miss. He can block. He can catch the football. However, he simply doesn't break tackles and lacks the explosiveness to take short runs and turn them into bigger ones. While Crawford played very well down the stretch against North Carolina, the team playing without Duke Johnson is really hurting its ability to run the football.

* I've said it about three weeks in a row now and it's worth repeating -- Allen Hurns has had a very strong senior season. He's not flashy but all he does is find ways to get open and move the chains. He's even turned into more of a downfield threat ever since Phillip Dorsett (who was dressed for this game but didn't play) was injured. He's just under 1,000 yards for the season and will likely go over it against Pittsburgh next week. I doubt too many people saw that coming before the season. Stacy Coley did what's become expected of him -- turn in some big plays. He's really starting to turn the corner. He has a very exciting future here, and should emerge as one of the most exciting receivers in all of college football next season. Coley and Dorsett will form a tremendously explosive combo for either Ryan Williams or Kevin Olsen next season. Strangely, Waters was a total non-factor. He played but simply wasn't thrown to. Very, very strange. Malcolm Lewis continues getting no looks, while Rashawn Scott only played late in the game when it was pretty much over.

* There isn't much to discuss with the tight ends other than it's just yet another game where they were terribly under-utilized. Walford had one target and Beau Sandland (who had a key fumble recovery on the Gus Edwards fumble just before the half and was very good blocking again today) had zero.

* The offensive line didn't play its best day by any stretch. The running backs averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and Morris had some pressure on several of his throws. It's been an up-and-down season for them. It's interesting that Brandon Linder continues playing both right guard and right tackle during games. It was good to see Danny Isidora, who saw a few snaps on the final series of the game for Miami, back on the field.

* Defensively, it was another sub-par performance. Sure, it got four turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns but it also gave up nearly 500 yards to one of the worst offenses in all of college football. The Cavs also converted 11 of 20 third down opportunities. They got just the one sack. Having said that, they did get the turnovers and just as importantly they did a better job inside the redzone. That's an area they've been getting burned badly in lately, and today the Cavs scored just two touchdowns on their six trips inside the redzone. Forcing a turnover and making them kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns is what really kept UVA from really staying in the game or even taking the lead.

* Anthony Chickillo played one of his better games of the season. He was solid against the run and was able to provide a decent amount of pressure on the quarterback. In the end, however, it was Tyriq McCod again providing the most spark as a pass rusher.

* It was a quiet day for the linebackers. The three starters combined for just 17 tackles and no plays behind the line of scrimmage. Denzel Perryman was beaten in pass coverage on Virginia's first touchdown in the second half. The front seven allowed the Cavs to average 5.8 yards per carry on 45 runs from scrimmage.

* Virginia had very little threat of a passing game, especially when their starter was in the game. He was one of the two or three most inaccurate quarterbacks the Canes have faced this season so he didn't really challenge the secondary. The backup had a better arm and was more accurate, so it wasn't surprising that he had 134 yards in the 4th quarter alone (against Miami's starters). It was nice, however, to see Tracy Howard getting a pick six and Kacy Rodgers getting the interception.

* Switching over to special teams, Pat O'Donnell has clearly become the best player on Miami's team. He came into the game 2nd nationally in punting. This was his best day yet as a Hurricane. He averaged over 49 yards on his seven punts, and that included placing five inside the 20. His transfer has given Miami a huge weapon, someone who has really helped Miami's defense along the way. Like I said, today was another example of why he's become the best player on the team this season.

* Lets hope Ladarius Gunter, who was injured and carted off late in the game, is OK along with Corn Elder and Nate Dortch. The injury bug seems to have bitten the cornerback position pretty hard all of a sudden.

* Bring on Pittsburgh!


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