Saturday, September 8, 2007
Canes Have a Long Way To Go
Oklahoma receiver Malcolm Kelly burns Randy Phillips for one of his 3 touchdowns
There's a reason why Oklahoma is a top five team and the Canes are unranked. The talent gap between the two programs is much wider than I ever imagined. The 51-13 Sooner victory was no fluke. It actually could have been worse. Believe it or not, Miami actually had fewer turnovers.
Like I've stated before, Miami must restore excellence to the quarterback position if it is ever to return as an elite program. Right now, the Canes have the worst duo of quarterbacks I've ever seen at UM. So far in two games, Miami quarterbacks have failed to throw for at least 100 yards. That is absolutley pathetic--even for a high school team. Even worse are Miami's starting receivers Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins. Leggett can't get open. I've yet to see him separate himself from cornerbacks in the first two games. Despite this, Freeman has repeatedly tried to get him the ball on long bombs without any success.. Jenkins can't catch a cold. He dropped two more balls today on middle screens.
While it's easy to notice the Canes lack of talent in the passing game. The play calling and coaching didn't help matters. For example, why are Miami's quarterbacks lining up in the shotgun when neither are threats to make enough plays with their arms? Miami's strength is its running backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper. Pound the football!
For the first time I have to seriously question Randy Shannon and offensive coordinator Patrick Nix's performance. Shannon made the decision to bench Freeman late in the second quarter. He brings in Kyle Wright, who actually was playing well and moving the offense. Wright drove the team into the red zone late in the first half. But instead of pounding the ball with James and Cooper, Nix decides to call back-to-back option plays where Wright would pitch the ball to Cooper on the perimeter. Both option plays lost yardage. Luckily UM was able to draw two pass interference penalties in the end zone. Wright finished the drive with a touchdown pass to a wide open Ryan Hill in the middle of the end zone.
Although Oklahoma was dominating the game from the start, the Canes made it interesting when they cut the Sooner lead to just 21-13 early in the 3rd quarter. From that point on, the roof completely collapsed. Oklahoma scored 30 unanswered points. Inexplicably, Shannon decided to bring Kirby Freeman back into the game late in the 3rd quarter. As usual, Freeman was coompletely inept. He couldn't move the offense to a single first down. How Freeman even won the starting job is beyond me. But the truth is both quarterbacks are like hot garbage sitting on the side of a curb on a South Florida summer day collecting flies.
Defensively, the Canes weaknesses were exposed by a team with superior athletes. Miami's secondary simply could not match up with Oklahoma's receivers--particularly Malcolm Kelly. Kelly had 3 touchdown receptions and burned UM cornerback Randy Phillips repeatedly. The truth is every phase of Oklahoma's team was superior to Miami's and it really wasn't close. Even against Marshall, the Canes secondary gave up some big plays down the middle of the field. Oklahoma's big and athletic receivers could not be stopped.
* Randy Phillips is too slow to be a Miami caliber cornerback. How many times must we watch this guy get burned? Phillips was a safety coming out of Glades Central High School. He should be playing safety. He's not a corner.
* Randy Shannon has made a complete mess out of an already messy quarterback situation. He starts Freeman, then benches him for Wright. Wright plays decently and then he's benched again for Freeman. What? This is going to open a huge can of worms in terms of a quarterback controversy. Personally Wright's brief stint in the 2nd and 3rd quarters were better than anything Freeman has shown in his career.
* Javarris James and Graig Cooper were wasted by Patrick Nix. Granted, the Canes were behind most of the game. But don't abandon the running game--especially when they were down just 21-13 in the 3rd quarter. Don't put the ball in the hands of Freeman or Wright and expect them to win the game. They won't.
* Darnell Jenkins has more drops than catches. When was the last time Lance Leggett was able to get open?
* Miami has a huge problem at defensive tackle in terms of depth. Dwayne Hendricks had to leave the game with an ankle injury. Antonio Dixon and Teraz McCray was also banged up.
* The linebackers played well, despite the bonehead hit by Tavares Gooden on Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford out of bounds. Colin McCarthy is a stud and a future Canes great.
* Oklahoma is going to be tough to stop. From top to bottom, this team is loaded. Their only major question was quarterback. They've found a good one in young Sam Bradford--a redshirt freshman. The Sooners have now scored 130 points in their first two games.
* If there's a better receiver in the country than Malcolm Kelly, I'd like to see him.
* Hidden in the blowout loss, the offensive line did a fine job of pass protection. It wasn't a dominating performance. But it was a solid performance. It's probably the most improved portion of the football team.
* Much better performance by punter Matt Bosher. He averaged less than 30 yards against Marshall. But when you punt as often as the Canes did today, you're bound to a boom a few long ones sooner or later. Kicker Francesco Zampogna has been a pleasant surprise so far.
* For the love of God, why is Richard Gordon, a 260 pound tight end, returning kickoffs? We need more speed back there.
* Thank God I'm not a Michigan fan.