Sunday, September 30, 2007
Canes Survive Duke
Kayne Farquharson makes a leaping TD catch in the first quarter
Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis always dreamed of playing in the Orange Bowl for the Miami Hurricanes. Yesterday, part of his dream came true. But the former Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School star came up just short as the Canes escaped with a 24-14 victory. Lewis threw for 242 yards including a 31 yard touchdown pass to Eron Riley.
The former HML Trojan was in position to help Duke pull off a huge upset on a day of upsets. Down 17-14, the Blue Devils drove deep into UM territory late in the fourth quarter. But on 4th down, Lewis was sacked by Canes defensive end Eric Moncur, ending a potential winning drive. The Canes then capitalized on Moncur's sack with a Kyle Wright 33 yard touchdown pass to tight end Dajleon Farr.
Lewis's heroics aside, the Canes took a couple of steps backwards. After an impressive 34-17 victory over then 20th ranked Texas A&M, UM seemed to sleepwalk through most of the Duke game. Sometimes statistics can lie. For example, UM quarterback Kyle Wright completed 19 of 23 passes for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns. Certainly those seem like great numbers. But Wright also threw 2 costly interceptions. Both came deep in Duke territory, including one in the end zone. He also had to leave the game in the third quarter after taking a big hit that busted his mouth open. Randy Shannon did point out one of those interceptions was the fault of a receiver running the wrong route.
Miami's offensive line also took a huge step backwards. The OL had been one of the most pleasant surprises thus far in 2007. But yesterday's game turned into a flag fest. Drive and drive was marred or killed by holding penalties. It seemed like every Cane offensive lineman was called at least once for holding.
UM's pass defense continues to struggle at times. Thaddeus Lewis was able to consitantly pick apart the Canes secondary in the second half. Through 4 games, Lewis may be the most impressive quarterback the Canes have played this year. He threw for over 400 yards last week in a loss against Navy. Lewis has a strong arm and showed tremendous mental and physical toughness. The Canes defense sacked him 9 times. But Lewis kept getting up and completing passes.
*Running back Graig Cooper continues to impress. Cooper had 100 yards rushing including a 2 yard touchdown. Cooper gives UM a big play weapon in the backfield Cane fans haven't seen since Willis McGahee.
*Receivers Sam Shields and Ryan Hill were suspended by head coach Randy Shannon. Shield's suspension was particularly disappointing. This was the second game Shields has missed due to suspension. He was coming off a great performance against Texas A&M and looked like the closest thing Kyle Wright had to a go-to receiver. But you have to wonder about this kid's dedication in the classroom and his discipline. One thing is for sure, Randy Shannon is not going to put up with half-ass effort on the field or in the classroom.
*Kayne Farquharson stepped his game up big time. Farquharson, a junior college transfer out of Homestead, replaced Shields in the lineup and caught 6 pass including a 5 yard touchdown--his first TD as a Hurricane.
*Vegas Franklin continues to be the unsung hero of the Canes defense. Franklin is a fifth year senior defensive lineman who doesn't start. But he's done a tremendous job rushing the passer and has provided valuable depth at both defensive end and tackle. Franklin had 2 sacks against Duke.
*Duke's Thaddeus Lewis is the best quarterback the Canes have seen this year. Yes, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford had a brilliant game against Miami earlier this season. But Lewis doesn't have near the supporting cast of Bradford. Lewis is just a true sophomore and will challenge Boston College's Matt Ryan as the best quarterback in the ACC. It's hard to believe none of the Florida schools recruited Lewis out of Hialeah-Miami Lakes High. He's got a great arm, mental and physical toughness and poise in the pocket. I remember reading about Lewis during his high school days and wondered why UM never showed any interest. Former Hialeah-Miami Lakes head coach Jerry Hughes used to compare Lewis to another former HML star Rohan Davey. Lewis might be better.
*Miami's cornerbacks Carlos Armour and Bruce Johnson must do a better job in coverage. Neither has made many plays or intercepted any passes. Veteran cornerback Glenn Sharpe has returned from inury and should provide quality depth along with nickleback Chavez Grant.
*Speaking of Chavez Grant, he was used as Miami's primary punt returner yesterday. Personally, I would rather see Graig Cooper. He's a much better big play threat.
*Kudos to Kyle Wright who was knocked out of the game in the 3rd quarter after a brutal hit busted open his mouth, requring stitches. Wright re-entered the the game in the 4th quarter and fired a 33 yard TD pass Dajleon Farr for the game's final score. While I've never been a huge Wright fan and his inconsistancy drives UM fans crazy, I'll never question this kid's toughness.
*Linebacker Romeo Davis and defensive tackle Josh Holmes saw their first game action of the season after returning from injuries. Holmes, a redshirt freshman from San Diego, played in his first college game.
*Only 30,614 fans were in the Orange Bowl Saturday afternoon. Why the University of Miami continues to schedule home games in the afternoon is beyond me. Why make fans sit out in the heat, when you could play the game at night. Since the game wasn't televised, there's no reason why this game couldn't have been played in the evening. I can't imagine the players enjoy playing in those day games. It's got to be brutal out there.
*UM freshman cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was a Pop Warner teammate of Thaddeus Lewis with the Northwest Boys & Girls Club in Miami. After the game Van Dyke said, "I think he (Lewis) has a chip on his shoulder because he wanted to be a Cane. Everytime he plays against us, he wants to go the whole way. We just got to stop him."