Mike's Analysis: NC State Game

Read on for a full game analysis of Miami's 14-point win over NC State.

* Brad Kaaya has taken some heat in recent weeks because of what many believe to be sub-par play but he was on his game in this one. Sure, he didn't throw any touchdowns but he managed the game well, got rid of the ball when he needed to, and got the ball into the hands of his playmakers. I thought it was probably the third best game he's played all season, and his best on the road since Georgia Tech. 

* Kudos to Mark Walton for going over 1,000 yards on the season. While he might not be the most explosive back UM's had, he has been extremely consistent all season. He blocks, he catches passes, and he consistently gets close to 20 touches a game and moves the chains. He's shown tremendous durability all season, and has put together a solid sophomore season. 

* It seemed in recent weeks that Gus Edwards was closing the gap between he and Joe Yearby for the No. 2 spot, and it continued in this game with five touches to Yearby's two. I still think Yearby gives UM a better option and would like to see him get more touches over the last couple games.

* This past week I said the gap between Ahmmon Richards and Stacy Coley is closing quickly, and it continued in this game. This was really the first time all season that Richards was clearly Brad's favorite target. Coley is the real deal but Richards is showing off tremendous ability. I can't imagine there being more than a couple freshman wide receivers in all of college football with his ability and upside. He is emerging as a really special young talent.

* David Njoku continued a very good junior season. I wrote last week that his 2016 season has been every bit as good as when Clive Walford nearly won the John Mackey Award a few years ago. That continued in this game. He's clearly distanced himself from Chris Herndon as the team's top pass-catching tight end.

* The offensive line seemed to play one of its better games of the season. The surprise was that Trevor Darling was not in the starting lineup for the second straight week, especially since he wasn't listed at all on Miami's Thursday injury report. Kc McDermott was solid again at left tackle, and it's encouraging that he can be effective at tackle. The sacks are still an issue but things are getting better. For a unit playing without three of its opening day starters (Darling, center Nick Linder, and RT Sunny Odogwu), this unit has played much better in recent weeks so line coach Stacy Searels deserves some credit for their improvement.

* Defensively, it was another solid performance from Miami's young unit. Although they didn't post any sacks, they made NC States quarterback uncomfortable (that's the word Manny Diaz used after the game). They did a decent job against the run. NC State scored just touchdown in four trips inside the red zone, and converted just 5-of-17 third downs. Plus, the Wolfpack offense had just two plays over 25 yards on 73 offensive plays so they did a nice job limiting big plays and making their offense drive the length of the field.

* The starting front continues playing well but I want to make a note about freshman Joe Jackson. He continues making good things happen whenever he's on the field. He was heavily recruited last year but I'm not sure people expected him to be this good this quickly. He has a very promising future here.

* Speaking of freshmen, Malek Young has really started turning the corner. He's been tremendous lately. The talented freshman cornerback has emerged as a starter now and turned in a very good game in this one. What a steal that was getting him away from Georgia late in the recruiting process last year.

* Justin Vogel has been one of the best players on the team all season, and this was one of the best games he's ever played. He averaged over 45 yards on five punts and put four of them inside the 20, making them drive the length of the field on a regular basis.

* Bring on Duke!!


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