Humbling Road Trip for Hurricanes
The Miami Hurricanes traveled to Manhattan, Kansas in play the 21st ranked team in the country, Kansas State. This was a very humbling experience for the Hurricanes to say the least. Coming off of a feel good win at Boston College, the Canes were looking to make a statement on the road against a ranked opponent. The only statement they made is they this team has a ways to go before they’re relevant in the national spotlight once again. K-State dominated in every facet of the game including the scoreboard (52-13). It wouldn’t be surprising if they handed out water on the sidelines with more intensity than the Canes. Week 2 presented the same problems Week 1 did but unfortunately for Miami the level of competition was far superior.
Miami is a very young team, this is no secret. Aside from youth being a hindrance this team has gaping holes that were exposed again this weekend. The most glaring red flag on this 2012 Miami Hurricanes team has to be the defensive line. The line is lacking both in depth and talent. Once more, this band of misfits was exposed. They could not stop the run nor could they generate any pressure on the quarterback leaving the linebackers and defensive backs out to dry. Defensive tackle play for Miami has been dreadful. Not having big Luther Robinson out there really hurt the Canes against K-State. Robinson had been suspended for a dispute with Head Coach Al Golden. Olsen Pierre and Jalen Grimble have been mediocre at best. Neither is getting any push whatsoever off the line. Subsequently, linebacker and defensive back play suffered mightily in this game. Against the run, it was as if the D-line wasn’t even on the field. The first line of defense in running situations were the linebackers after the opposing back has already gained four or five yards. Of this group, only Eddie Johnson showed up to play and his game was far from perfect. Whenever the defense made a rare stop behind the line of scrimmage, it was Johnson who made the play. However, he was also caught out of position multiple times. As for the defensive backs, they could not cover the K-State receivers. Aside from a Brandon McGee interception, there really isn’t much to commend. McGee’s interception came at a point where the Canes still had a slim chance to make it a ballgame. That glimmer of hope turned into a farfetched fairy tale soon after. Kansas State racked up 498 yards of total offense and they did it while operating on a short field the entire game. The lone occasion where they had a long field in front of them, they marched 97 yards for a touchdown. The Wildcat offense was also 8-11 on 3rd downs for the game. At times where the Hurricane defense had the opportunity to get off the field, they squandered it. Miami’s defense was a mere stepping stone for Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein’s Heisman Trophy candidacy. Klein ended the day 9 of 11 passing for 210 yards and a touchdown as well as 71 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries on the ground.
Miami Hurricanes Defensive Coordinator Mike D’Onofrio showed his stubbornness by sticking with a two-high safety look for the majority of the game. That philosophy is designed to keep everything in front of you and eliminate big plays. However, the Kansas State offense was shredding Miami on the ground mostly and their big plays came off of missed tackles. Klein did throw for 210 yards but the majority of his passes were short and his receiver got into open space. Instead of going away from the two-high safety look and perhaps bringing a safety up in the box to help against the run, Coach D stuck with it and ultimately gave up 50+ points for just the fifth time in school history. Maybe it’s not Coach D’s scheme that’s the problem, fans are starting to see that the Hurricanes need to get better as well as get better players. Though there are some good kids on the team, they need much more talent. That being said, when something is not working, you must fix it. After using the same defense and giving up 30 points, why not switch is up and let K-State beat you by throwing. Colin Klein is good, but he’s not an elite passer. Make him beat you with his arm not his legs (the strong suit of his game). It was just an overall deplorable effort by the Hurricane defense game plan included.
The offense wasn’t nearly as bad as the defense but it wasn’t great either. In their defense, they barely had the ball. K-State dominated the time of possession (37:16 to 22:44). When the offense was on the field, they were up against a very stout and consequently rested Wildcat defense. Quarterback Stephen Morris had a decent game going 19 for 26 for 215 yards. The Canes just could not convert first downs, especially on third down. Miami only had success on 5 of their 13 third down situations. The running game that was heroic in Week 1 was nonexistent in Week 2. As a whole, Miami gained 40 yards on the ground. The very same issue that plagued the Cane offense in BC followed them to Kansas. Receivers continued to drop balls in this game. Most notably freshman running back Randy “Duke” Johnson had three drops himself, one of which could have been a huge play for a score in a critical part of the game. UM also couldn’t hold on to the football, they coughed it up three times.
All in all it was embarrassing both for the fans and the team. It’s been a long time since Miami has been spanked like that. They were dominated in every aspect of the contest. Even special teams which was a strong suit against BC was terrible this week. Also, the tackling had been so solid was pathetic. There is no question that this team needs to get better. But if there is a silver lining to be had, two legendary Miami Hurricanes coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Howard Schnellenberger, suffered similar defeats and both were able to rebound and win National Championships. Al Golden is will undoubtedly use this game to fuel his team as well as teach them. There is little uncertainty that the team will respond to this latest adversity. In essence this loss was a good thing, it was a reality check to show them where they really are. This game was evidence of how far the program has truly fallen and how much work it will take to rise up again. The Hurricane fan base is full of frustration and desperation and understandably so, but fans should be patient and optimistic. Progress is being made and will continue to be made. Have faith and stand by your team when they need you most. Miami (1-1) plays at home against Bethune-Cookman this Saturday at SunLife Stadium.
Side Notes: Luther Robinson reinstated to team. Ereck Flowers might move to LT to replace struggling Malcolm Bunche. Seantrel Henderson to take over RT if Flowers moves to LT. LB Ramon Buchanan out for season with Knee injury. S Vaughn Telemaque out for next game.