Grading the Canes: Offense

The Hurricanes turned in their best offensive performance of this young season on Saturday so lets take a closer look at what made it so successful.

Quarterbacks: B+
Robert Marve had an excellent performance. He put the ball into the hands of his playmakers, he made plays (or kept plays alive) with his feet for the second game in a row, and he did a nice job of limiting his mistakes. Sure, he threw one pick but the A&M defender made a great play on it. Marve completed 16-of-22 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He would have been close to 300 yards and three scores if Leonard Hankerson didn't flinch early on Thearon Collier's touchdown reception. He continues giving UM some excitement at the quarterback position and he has Canes fans every excited moving forward. As well as he played, he did make a few mistakes. For the second game in a row, he missed an open receiver deep. This time, Travis Benjamin had gotten loose and Marve underthrew him in the endzone, resulting in an incompletion. He's learning a lot each week and seems to be a big upside in leading Miami's offense. Jacory Harris came in and completed 4-of-7 for 27 yards.

Running Backs: A
Playing without starter Javarris James, the Canes used three backs in this game. Graig Cooper started and had one of the best games of his short Miami career. Even though his holes were bigger in this game, Cooper was running harder than he did against Florida. He broke several tackles and did a nice job of finishing his runs. He made the most of some holes and if he can continue playing that way the rest of the season, he'll have a big year. He finished with 16 carries for 128 yards and two scores. Derron Thomas had a nice run on his first carry but that's about all he was able to get going. It was nice, however, to see Thomas get involved in the passing game by catching a couple passes for 15 yards. The running backs, otherwise, have pretty much been non-existent as pass-catchers so far this season. Shawnbrey McNeal came in the game late and had seven yards on three carries. Fullback Patrick Hill played a much better game against Texas A&M than he did against Florida. Hill was on the field for 10 of Miami's 23 offensive plays where the running back was handed the football. The result? 123 yards and two scores. When he wasn't on the field? 42 yards on 13 carries and no scores. A 12.3 yards per carry is a lot better than 3.2 and the play of Patrick Hill played a big part in that. The backs did a fairly good job of blitz pickup as well.

Wide Receivers: A
Senior Kayne Farquharson has put together back-to-back solid performances for the Canes, as he finished this game as the team's leading receiver with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Had Marve thrown a better pass on the one that got picked off, Farquharson would have had another touchdown because he was open on the play. Thearon Collier finished with four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown and he had another long touchdown reception called back because of penalty. He looked like a young Santana or Roscoe out there. Aldarius Johnson had three catches for 19 yards; Travis Benjamin caught one for 13; Sam Shields caught one for 11; and LaRon Byrd caught one fof our, which went for a first down. The receivers moved the sticks, found the endzone, and did a nice job blocking for the running backs. After the offense dropped five balls against Florida, there were no drops by the receivers in this game. The biggest negative was Hankerson's motion penalty on Collier's long touchdown.

Tight Ends: C
There's no doubt where the strength of these tight ends lies -- in the running game because of their blocking skills. That's what Chris Zellner and Richard Gordon do best -- block for UM's running game. They were, again, very effective in doing so. Dedrick Epps had three catches for 48 yards and broke some tackles in doing so. Considered UM's best pass-catching tight end, the talented junior showed some of what he can do in the passing game. He's also a skilled blocker as well. UM's offensive success on the ground when Patrick Hill was in the game was talked about earlier. Well, the tight ends have to be considered in that talk as well. Gordon, however, had two penalties for 15 yards and that didn't help.

Offensive Line: B
The Canes had a different starting offensive line for the third time in as many games. Tyrone Byrd became the third right tackle to start a game for the Canes this season. We talked about his strong performance playing behind Jason Fox after the Florida game so it was nice to see him rewarded with a start in this game. Chris Rutledge started in place of Joel Figueroa as well. The Canes used eight offensive linemen again, using A.J. Trump, Reggie Youngblood, and Figueroa as backups. They all played a lot. Xavier Shannon, again, played the entire game at center. Byrd got into the action right away, making a great block on Cooper's first carry of the game. Rutledge did as well, making two nice blocks on Cooper's first touchdown run. Fox had a great block on Cooper's second touchdown run. They were all getting involved. Watch Orlando Franklin getting downfield throwing a block on the Collier touchdown that was called back. That's very impressive for a 6-7, 330-pound man. The two sacks appeared to be the responsibility of Byrd (the first one) and Shannon (the second). Still, the O-Line was strong enough to help the running backs average 5.9 per carry. Marve was sacked a few times and hurried a few other times, including a shot he took by Trump's guy that knocked him out of the game for a couple series. The O-Line played better than it did against Florida but it still has a lot of room for improvement. But for a game when your ground game averages six a carry, you give up just two sacks, and there are no penalties called against your unit for the entire game, you must be doing something right and that's what Coach Stoutland's unit did on Saturday.


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