Brad Kaaya was playing in his first ever college game and it showed. Louisville crowded the line of scrimmage, threw several different blitz packages at him, and had a rowdy home crowd. Those are three reasons why he struggled tremendously. His two best throws of the night (to Phillip Dorsett for 39 yards and to Clive Walford for 31) came on play-action. He made two bad throws that led to interceptions. He missed a wide open Dorsett on a late fourth down. He also missed an easy potential touchdown pass to Stacy Coley, which led to a turnover. While he made a few nice plays, Kaaya seemed rattled all night. The game plan was very vanilla but Kaaya still struggled to make simple throws. On a positive note, things will likely only get better from here.
Duke Johnson was provided with very little running room all night. Louisville's defenders often made first contact at or behind the line of scrimmage. He still managed to gain 90 yards on 20 carries but it wasn't easy. Surprisingly, especially after since the coaches talked about it during the offseason, Johnson was barely involved in the passing game. He caught just one pass for five yards. Gus Edwards ran three times for one yard and was totally ineffective. Joseph Yearby had just two touches -- one carry and one reception -- for limited yardage. Walter Tucker had no touches from the fullback spot and Trayone Gray did not play.
Kaaya's struggles, the inconsistent O-Line play, and how simple the game plan was from James Coley are three reasons why it was hard for the wide receivers to get much going. Dorsett had just one catch on four targets. Stacy Coley caught just three passes for nine yards on six targets. Herb Waters didn't see a single target until the game was out of hand late. He grabbed six balls on Miami's final drive against a prevent defense full of backups. Malcolm Lewis started the game but, like most of last season, didn't see a single target. It's strange how he continues starting games and yet rarely sees any balls going his way. Braxton Berrios caught two and had one other target. Garrett Kidd, D'Mauri Jones, David Njoku, Darrell Langham, and Tyre Brady were not involved at all.
Clive Walford caught three passes for 38 yards and one touchdown. He had just one other target on the night. Walford continues to produce when given opportunities in the passing game. Coley and Kaaya will need to find ways to get him the football. He also sealed the edge really well on Johnson's longest run of the night. Louisvlle's tight end, Gerald Christian, caught six and a touchdown and there's no reason he should be more active than Walford. Despite all the preseason hype over Standish Dobard, he didn't see a single target. Gray Crow, Jake O'Donnell, and Chris Herndon were not involved.
The Canes went with the same five guys the entire night. Kaaya dropped back 31 times. He was sacked twice and hurried six times. Miami's running backs carried it 24 times for 85 yards (3.5 per carry). Those are not good numbers, especially with an experienced group. The interior of the line got no push up front. The right side of the line, especially, struggled. Taylor Gadbois allowed a sack and was called for a holding penalty. Danny Isidora was called for a false start and then for being illegally downfield on what would have been a big play to Johnson. They struggled from start to finish and were simply handled by Louisville's defensive front.