Cole:It was just Marshall.
With that said, we can take a lot away from this game. If you've read my thoughts on the forums (5 Things…) you would know that I think we had some impressive aspects of our team.
Let me first start off with the running game. Yeah, it was just Marshall, but any team that puts up 251 total rushing yards should be considered a solid running team. When looking at our co-starters, sophomore Javarris James and freshman Graig Cooper, we saw two runners, that over the next two to three years will develop into one of the nations top duos. The Hurricane-nation is already anointing them Thunder and Lightening and are considering then the next great Miami running backs. Cooper, who hit the century mark in his debut showed elusiveness and quickness and field vision which is reminiscent of Devin Hester as a return man and the ability to hit the hole with incredible acceleration in the running game. His reckless style is a breath of fresh air that has lacked a big play threat in recent years.
Secondly, I want to credit the defensive front four. They showed a serious knack at disrupting the pocket and flushing a quarterback out before he can make his second and third reads. They kept Bernard Morris on his toes all game long and limited the Marshall offense through the air.
Teraz McCray got my game ball, as I saw this kid disrupt the pocket from the interior unlike any Miami defensive tackle in several years. He was a force against a potential All-MAC center.
Calais Campbell was constantly double teamed and Eric Moncur benefited with two sacks. Vegas Franklin and Courtney Harris in a reserve role excelled. This front four has the potential to be special throughout the year.
For those that question their ability to stop the run, let me say this. You don't need big 330-pound behemoths in the middle to clog the lanes. Being able to penetrate and stop the north-south running of an attack plays just as vital of a role. Our defensive line is able to one-gap with the best in the country and that alone will give our linebackers the chance to make plays.
Thirdly, I like what I saw in terms of the culmination of an off-season of change. Head Coach Randy Shannon had these kids as excited as I've seen them in years and as in shape as ever. The package system they are running which allows players ample time on the sideline keeps the team fresh at all times. They were accountable for their actions and the work though the off-season paid its dividends.
Fourthly, I would have liked to see a better passing attack, but I realize Kirby Freeman isn't a finished product. It is obvious this staff wants him more as a game manager and that is ok. If Kirby relies on our running game and does enough to keep the defense honest, he doesn't need to be a 400 yard passer for me to be content. All I ask is that the chains keep moving and that turnovers are kept at a minimum and I think that is good enough to win nine games this season.
Overall, we saw a better product on the field than we have seen in years. This season, however, is a marathon and not a race. They have a long way to go. I think we will get a better idea of what we have this week versus Oklahoma.
Bakas: One thing you often notice about first game performances is how many mistakes teams make. Even the best ones. They all seem to make a lot of mistakes and that's one area on Saturday that I thought the Hurricanes were very impressive in. There weren't many discipline type penalties. Most of them were players being too physical or too aggressive. That's the first thing that really stood out to me.
The second thing I was impressed with was how impressive and how fresh the offensive linemen looked. That's been a major weakness on this team going back to the 2003 season and these guys looked good. Sure, it was Marshall but they flew around, played with excitement, and seemed to have little problem competing in the extreme South Florida heat.
Finally, it was good to see 10 true freshmen on the field competing. JoJo Nicolas had the interception. Graig Cooper had a big performance. Guys made plays on special teams. That was big for those guys, especially since they'll be asked to contribute in such a big game this weekend.
On the other side, the passing game struggled against a team that probably won't be one of the better pass defenses on the schedule this year. Sure, Marshall was giving a lot of room but things need to get a lot better this weekend because Oklahoma's pass rush and secondary will both be much, much better than what the Canes saw last Saturday.
From an overall standpoint, it was a good win. Anytime you can start the season with a 28-point win and leave healthy, you're off to a pretty good start and that's what the Canes did on Saturday.
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