Grading the Canes: vs. FSU

The Hurricanes started their season with a big victory over rival Florida State on Monday night. Lets take a closer look at how each position unit performed.

Quarterbacks: B+
Jacory Harris had one of the best performances from a Miami quarterback in several years, probably going all the way back to the Ken Dorsey era. That just goes to show you how this program has lacked elite play from the position in recent years. As good as Harris was, he could have been better. He threw a couple picks, one of which led to an FSU touchdown on a play where he probably could have taken a sack instead. He threw a couple more balls up for grabs and into traffic. However, he made some big time throws throughout the game. He was constantly finding open receivers and getting them the ball. He was creating more time by using his feet inside the pocket. He was money for most of the night but there are things to improve upon.

Running Backs: B-
Despite getting the ball 23 times, the Canes running backs were unable to go over 100 yards. In fact, the trio of Javarris James, Graig Cooper, and Lee Chambers averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. While that's an OK number, it could have been more. Only James broke a tackle on any of the runs. There were no long runs from the backs. They were effective in helping protect Harris and they made an impact in the passing game. The trio caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and James broke a tackle on his only reception, which resulted in a first down. Going back to last season when James went down, the UM running backs haven't been breaking a lot of tackles and hopefully that'll change in the coming weeks. And hopefully they'll continue to play a key role in the passing game.

Wide Receivers: A-
Jacory Harris had a big night and the passing game was clicking for pretty much the entire night and a lot of credit goes to the wide receivers for getting open, making catches, and scoring points. Travis Benjamin picked up right where he left off last season against Florida State by having a big night and showcasing his abilities. Leonard Hankerson had an early drop but he also made four nice catches, including a huge first down reception on the final touchdown drive. Aldarius Johnson had three catches and was solid as a blocker in the running game. Thearon Collier had a couple nice runs and had a couple receptions. Laron Byrd was thrown to twice and had his hands on both balls but neither were receptions. Those were the five primary receivers for the Canes in this game and they played really well as a group.

Tight Ends: B-
Dedrick Epps had two catches for 46 yards and was finding ways to get open. That was real encouraging to see for Miami, since he tore his ACL less than nine months ago. Jimmy Graham was thrown to once but it was incomplete. Richard Gordon played a key role in the running game but the tight ends will have to find ways to open more holes in the running game.

Offensive Line: C+
The Canes played most of the night with six players -- Jason Fox and Matt Pipho at tackle, A.J. Trump at center, Orlando Franklin at left guard, and a rotation of Harland Gunn and Joel Figueroa at right guard. Fox jumped early on the first play of the game but played a very solid game. Franklin struggled to get leverage on his guy, gave up a sack, and had a false start called against him. Trump held his own in the middle. Pipho seemed to have a rough night on the right side. He drew a holding penalty, allowed a sack that resulted in FSU's defensive touchdown, and just had a hard time slowing down FSU's pass rush on the left side of their defense. The running backs averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and Harris was sacked a few times and avoided a couple other plays that could have become sacks. While they protected Harris pretty well and opened up holes at times, they still need some work.

Defensive Line: C
After struggling to find running room in the first half, the Noles ended up getting 110 yards on 30 carries (3.7 per carry) against the Canes and most of that came from backup Ty Jones, who's a power back. Allen Bailey played well and made some big plays. Marcus Robinson supplied good pressure at times and made a big play on a sack/caused fumble. Olivier Vernon applied some heat at times but made some mistakes, including an offsides penalty on third-and-three. Marcus Forston was a non-factor the entire night. Micanor Regis played some, drew a penalty, and recorded a tackle. Steven Wesley had a tackle for loss and a hurry. The entire group was responsible for two sacks and two other plays made behind the line of scrimmage. Couple that with giving up almost four yards per rush and it wasn't a great night for the front four.

Linebackers: C
The starting linebacker group of Colin McCarthy, Sean Spence, and Darryl Sharpton recorded a total of 14 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage. After an excellent freshman season, Spence didn't have a real good start to the season. He missed as many tackles (three) as he made and gave up the first touchdown to the FSU tight end. Sharpton, playing the middle, had just four tackles and missed a tackle down near the goal line that resulted in a Florida State touchdown in the third quarter. McCarthy was the most active of the group, with seven tackles, as he just seemed to be around the ball a lot. Ramon Buchanan also played a lot but didn't have any tackles. The backs and tight ends, after the touchdown to the tight end in the first quarter, were pretty quiet in the passing game for the Noles and so some of that credit goes to the UM linebackers.

Defensive Backs: C-
Florida State lost its two best receivers from last season so they were playing with a lot of unproven players. It didn't seem to matter, as the receivers were responsible for 18 catches for 250 yards and a score. It could have been more had the FSU receiver caught the ball late in the first quarter after beating Randy Phillips over the top. Phillips missed a couple tackles. Brandon Harris, who was a tackling machine in the game, and JoJo Nicolas both had pass interference calls against them in the endzone. It was a rough night at times but the Canes did make some plays. Phillips had an interception. Shields played pretty well for his first time at corner. And they made plays when they needed to, like at the end of the game. Still, the secondary will have to get much better -- especially if the Canes aren't able to generate a big pass rush as the season goes along.

Special Teams: B
Matt Bosher connected on his only field goal attmpt. He averaged over 40 yards on four punts and put three inside the 20 yard line. He wasn't able to get much distance on kickoffs and couple that with some poor tackling at times and the Noles had tremendous field position for a good part of the night following Miami scores. Graig Cooper provided a big boost in the return game, averaging over 35 yards on five returns.

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