Some questions answered...

So many questions were answered Monday night, yet so many remain unanswered following Miami's embarrassing 13-10 loss to Florida State, one that will linger in the hearts of many fans for quite some time.

The reality is this. Miami lost to Florida State in a game it should have won. Miami could have knocked FSU out in the second quarter when it had the ball inside the 50 for most of the quarter, but managed only ten points when it could have been and should have been at least 17 and possibly 21.

The questions that were answered are the following:

What would a new offensive coordinator bring to the table after Larry Coker fired not just Dan Werner, but offensive line coach Art Kehoe and running backs coach Don Soldinger?

The answer: Absolutely nothing. The ‘Canes managed 134 yards of offense. Kyle Wright was running for his life most of the game and potent ground game managed all of TWO yards on 26 carries. The sad part was that they out gained the ‘Noles by double 2 to 1. And these are two teams ranked in the top 12? Are you kidding me? Fact is, for all the coaching changes, the offensive line couldn't pave any holes for Charlie Jones to run through, Wright still holds the ball far too long and takes awful sacks such as the one he took late in the second quarter knocking Miami out of field goal range and forcing a pooch punt by Jon Peattie.

Miami threw ONE pass downfield the entire game and that was on the first play of the game. And Wright overthrew that one by at least ten yards. But ONE PASS. FSU had babies in at cornerback and Rich Olson had one play all game that went downfield. There was no use of the roll out, no use of the fullback, no use of Greg Olsen for the most past and a petrified quarterback who can't seem to stop thinking on the field and simply start playing.

Miami's play calling was flat out bland. On only one possession of the second half did Miami get the ball past the 50. That was early in the third quarter and what did Miami do with that. Following a run by Jones that lost eight yards, rather than going to the air, Olson runs the ball again with Jones and gets only five back. Then Wright takes a horrific sack, dropping 17 more yards pushing Miami back from the FSU 39 to the ‘Canes 41. The field possession war was lost right there the rest of the game.

Does Wright have better tools than Drew Weatherford? Most definitely, but Weatherford's decision making is levels above. He doesn't take bad sacks. He throws the ball away rather than getting dropped for a 15 yard loss. He takes advantage of his backs as many of his passes went to Antone Smith and Lorenzo Booker.

How would wide receivers play without Ryan Moore?

The answer: Adequately. Overall, Darnell Jenkins did as much as he could. Lance Leggett did as much as he could. Neither dropped a pass. Sam Shields did a fine job playing as a true freshman in the biggest game of his life. Yes, he dropped a pass that hit him smack on the chest late in the game that was costly, but he didn't actually drop it. It hit smack off his chest. He hadn't even really turned his head yet, but that's a freshman and it's something that has to be accepted.

But the ‘Canes have no game breakers. Gone are days of Roscoe Parrish, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson. Moore was sorely missed and it appears he probably won't play for Miami again, so this crew is going to have to step up its game period. But it can't do what the offensive coordinator doesn't call. At one point, Wright was 13 for 15 in the second quarter for 90 yards. 2 and 3 yard passes don't strike fear into a defense. Miami had always prided itself on being a team that can hit for the home run at any time.

Right now, there are no home run hitters and if there are, they really weren't given the chance to hit a home run Monday night.

What kind of defense will the ‘Canes have?

The defense rebounded from the 40-3 shellacking against LSU in the Peach Bowl, but in the second half simply didn't make plays. Glenn Cook couldn't make a major tackle late in the third on 3rd and 10 when Lorenzo Booker caught a dump off and took it to the Miami five-yard line. It's plays like that which cost Miami.

Miami's defensive front four was spectacular against the run, but couldn't sniff Weatherford. The defensive didn't get near Weatherford most of the game and when it did, they couldn't tackle him.

Miami clearly has one of the best defenses in the country, but when you hear answers in the post game locker room that they relaxed, the question is why. Why in the world you they relax against Florida State? That mental lapse cost the game regardless of how pathetically the offense played.

On a good note, Randy Phillips and Glenn Sharpe were great. Sharpe limited Greg Carr to one catch for 11 yards and defended the jump balls that were thrown to Carr great. He is an NFL caliber corner. Phillips did a great job. He's the type of defensive back that has the potential to be great. And not enough can be said about Kenny Phillips. He was all over the field. NFL scouts are drooling over him already. Brandon Meriweather was his normal self. Made a big play in the second quarter with the interception, but the offense simply didn't capitalize.

However, Miami's defense didn't make the plays it had to in the second half. It is one of the best in the country, but with an anemic offense, it has to pitch shutouts.

Now here are the questions that remain unanswered.

Why in the world did Larry Coker stick freshman running back Javarris James in the game in the fourth quarter when he hadn't sniffed the field in the first three quarters?

James is a supreme talent, but again, he's a freshman. He fumbled one hand off that wasn't really put in his bread basket the way it should have been. Freshman historically can't pass block, yet he was put in the game in the fourth quarter at the 20-yard line.

Do you blame James? No. You blame Coker, one of the many, many things that Coker needs to be blamed for. People have to stop giving the head coach a scholarship because he won a National Championship in 2001. Fans don't remember 2001 anymore because this team doesn't even begin to resemble that team. Coker put a freshman in the game for the first at the most critical point of the game without having giving him a carry the first three quarters. If you are going to put him in the game, he needs to play earlier to get his feet wet, not when the game is on the line.

What was Coker's reasoning? He claimed Charlie Jones was tired. According to Jones after the game, Jones stated he wasn't tired at all. He stated it was a coach's decision. Someone is not telling the truth here and my guy is that Jones is telling the truth.

Coker also stated that he should have played James earlier? Then why didn't he. Don't tell me what you should have done. Do it. The excuses have grown tired.

Why didn't UM attempt a field goal from the 35-yard line late in the second quarter?

That's another question that has no answer. Miami had all the momentum. Meriweather had intercepted a pass, but from the 35-yard line, that's a 52-yard field goal. Can Jon Peattie make that kick? Sure he can make it. Would he have made it? We'll never know because he didn't get a chance to kick it. If he makes it, it's a 13-3 game going into the half, not 10-3. Were those three points important? Most definitely they were.

And so what if he misses the kick. FSU had done nothing the entire first half following its first drive. You take your chances with your defense, but since Coker had already blown two timeouts earlier in the first half, punting the ball did nothing but pin FSU back and basically forced them to run the clock out in the first half because Miami had no timeouts to stop the clock.

The simple answer is you let Peattie kick the 52-yard field goal and hope he makes it. You have to give him a chance to make it. Simple as that. In games like this, you have to take chances.

Why didn't Miami blitz more?

One has no idea about that. Miami's front four put zero pressure on Weatherford, but didn't blitz most of the game. And when it did, it blitzed from the WRONG side. Rather than forcing Weatherford left, the blitz came from the right and forced Weatherford to his right, his throwing arm allowing him to role out and complete the dump offs to Booker and Smith. Blitz from the left and force Weatherford to his left and it's a different story, but Miami should have blitzed Weatherford all game long.

Synopsis of the Game and Our Perspective

The reality is this. Miami has a great defense and a mediocre offense at best. The offense truly isn't going to get much better. Four losses wouldn't surprise me at all. In its past four losses, it's scored a total of 30 points and hasn't scored a point in the second half. Miami hasn't scored a point in the fourth quarter in its past six games.

It's time the Texas gunslinger Kirby Freeman gets a crack at this. Wright is 9-4 in 13 starts. He's lost double the games Ken Dorsey did in 40 starts. Miami scored 10 points against Florida State last night. Could Freeman have done any worse? Doubtful.

Coker continues to get a free ride and we continue hearing about his remarkable 53-10 record from the national media that simply don't have a clue.

But that record is a fraud.

With Butch Davis' recruits, he was 24-0 until the referee stole the Fiesta Bowl. It was hard not to be 24-0 with that much talent. Since that 24-0 start, Coker is 29-10. That's a .743 winning percentage. That might be good enough at Oklahoma State or Tulsa where 9-3 brings about a block party, but in Miami, good is not good enough. The standard of excellence at the University of Miami is Mount Everest-like. Miami has won 5 National Championships since 1983 and has played for at least four more. But this championship program is looking less and less like it each and every year.

Miami is 11-6 in the ACC. Miami has lost games to Georgia Tech at home with an ACC Championship game appearance at stake, North Carolina and Clemson. Not to mention FSU twice and Virginia Tech at home with a BCS bid at stake.

Back-to-back 9-3 records are the exact reason the Orange Bowl WAS NOT sold out for the Florida State game. Those records simply are not acceptable. Period. Coker can delude himself all day and say we've got great players, but we don't. His recruits for the most part are average. For every stud he's recruited, he's recruited three that don't belong here. And if Miami isn't sitting on a 12-1 record at the end of this season, he shouldn't be here either.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at rudy@canestime.com

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