Grading the Canes: Marshall

It's time to close the books on coverage of last week's Marshall game. Raul Tano does so by giving out the grades for last week's performance by the Hurricanes.

QB = C-. It's hard to really give Kirby Freeman a failing grade, because he really didn't lose the game for Miami. According to the coaches (if you want to believe what they tell you) managed the game the way he was asked to. He made one interception, but didn't really make any boneheaded plays. That being said, his poor completion percentage and anemic ability to move the ball forward through the air will not win the Hurricanes many big games.

RB = A. How could I give them anything less than an A? They put up nearly 260 yards on the ground. Even more amazing is that the bulk of the carries went to a true sophomore and true freshman. The ‘Canes have to feel good about their running game right about now. Javarris James and Graig Cooper complimented each other nearly perfectly.

WR = D+. I know they weren't really called on too much, but they had nearly half as many drops as total catches in this game. Lance Leggett played decently but wasn't really asked to do much other than be on the receiving end of several spot passes. I can't say for certain whether he slowed down or not on the one deep route where Kirby missed him, so I won't comment on that. Shields got himself suspended before the game, Darnell had two drops, Khalil Jones had one, and Kayne Farquharson added one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not condemning them yet, not by a long shot. They're a talented group and I think they'll turn in a much better performance for OU.

OL = A+. Spectacular. No sacks allowed and they paved the way for nearly 260 yards on the ground. Especially impressive considering that they had been considered a team weakness for 2+ years. Coach Stoutland really had them prepared and in excellent physical shape. When was the last time you saw offensive linemen running down field and making blocks like that?

TE= B-. They weren't really looked at too much in the passing game, but Dajleon Farr did score a touchdown and they did help block for that running game. There were a couple instances where they were open and Kirby missed them. Still, you'd like to see Kirby be able to make some throws to his tight end instead of having to resort to tucking and running.

DL= A. Solid as usual. The one concern I had before the game was how the interior of the line was going to perform, but they impressed me. Dixon came on for quite a few plays, but Hendricks and McCray really penetrated the interior of Marshall's line masterfully. The rotation between ends was great as well. At one point, Calais Campbell sat out nearly 10 minutes straight and the line did not miss a beat. Nice to see Eric Moncur perform up to expectations as well. 6 sacks AND an interception? Wow.

LB = B. I hesitate to give them an A simply because I'm not sure if the errors in pass coverage were their fault or the defensive backs. Still, the linebacking corps looked sharp, even in the passing game, racking up two interceptions. Colin McCarthy looked like the real deal, Spencer Adkins showed the speed that had people talking him up during the summer and early fall, and Tavares Gooden looked at home in the middle (which was another concern of mine). This linebacking corps is probably the most athletic since the 2003 group of Jonathan Vilma, DJ Williams, Darrel McClover, and Roger McIntosh.

DB = C. While they held Marshall to under 200 yards passing, they gave up more plays than I'd like to see. Hopefully they hammered those issues out. The middle of the field was the most open, leading me to believe the issue was with the safeties, but you never know. Kenny Phillips did not have his best game, but he's been one of the most consistent performers on the team during his three years here. They'll also have to turn it up a notch versus Oklahoma.

ST = C. One for two on field goals and a couple of lazy punts will not get it done versus the Sooners. Maybe Bosher was nervous during his first two attempts, because his third pinned Marshall inside their own five yard line. Hopefully he doesn't have the jitters this Saturday. Zampogna didn't miss the second field goal by much and was perfect on special teams. Everyone misses a kick from time to time. I expect consistency from him, just like he shows in practice. Graig Cooper showed us something we didn't see all of last year while returning punts: Wiggle and vision. He'll have a tougher time on Saturday, but it's nice to know we have a possible game breaker back there. Richard Gordon looked like a freight train when he returned the kick, and was only tackled because the defender cut his legs out. I don't blame him, I wouldn't attack Gordon from the waist either.


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