Sunday, October 14, 2007
Canes Continue To Regress
Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice gains some of his 204 yards
Since beating Texas A&M 34-17 back on September 20th, it seemed Randy Shannon's Miami Hurricanes had turned the corner and were on their way to a successful season. Oh how the wheels have fallen off. The unranked Canes continue to flounder after losing to Georgia Tech 17-14 at the Orange Bowl. The loss was Miami's second straight and dropped UM's record to 4-3 and 1-2 in the ACC with the heart of its conference schedule coming up. Georgia Tech has now beaten UM the last three consecutive years.
For so long Miami's defense had been the backbone of the team. But with injuries to starting linebacker Colin McCarthy, defensive tackle Antonio Dixon and poor play from the secondary, this is the worst UM defense I've seen in a long time. Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice rushed for 204 yards. It marked only the third time since 1986 the Canes defense had allowed a running back to break the 200 yard barrier. Choice got 152 of his yards in the second half and it was clear this Canes defense wasn't capable of stopping him. What's even more frustrating is Georgia Tech ran the same counter play time after time and the Canes could do nothing to stop it. That's just physical domination.
The offense wasn't much better. Quarterback Kyle Wright continues to take steps backwards in his senior year. He threw for a pathetic 56 yards. It wasn't because of a lack of trying. Offensive coordinator Patrick Nix called three long bombs on the Canes first three plays from scrimmage. All three times, Wright's passes missed their targets. In fact, the Canes threw 6 deep passes the entire game and completed none of them. On a couple of occassions receiver Darnell Jenkins was wide open for easy scores. Kirby Freeman even made couple of appearances and was just as ineffective.
Again, it's not a big mystery where Miami's offensive problems begin. The quarterback position is in an awful state. There's no other way to put it. The Georgia Tech game marked the third time this season Miami quarterbacks Wright or Freeman failed to throw for at least 100 yards. That should never happen once in a season--let alone three times. Watching Wright throw the deep pass is painful. He either underthrows his receiver or overthrows them badly. The only good thing I can say about Wright's performance is he didn't throw any interceptions.
If there was a bright spot, freshman running back Shawnbrey McNeal has emerged as a breakaway threat. McNeal had a 33 yard touchdown run on 4th down and 1. He also had another long run that was called back due to a holding penalty. McNeal finished with 48 yards on 8 carries. But as well as McNeal played, UM's offense was not able to muster enough consistancy. What's also alarming is the deterioration of starting running back Javarris James. James started the game, but didn't see any action after the first quarter.
By the way, is there is worse punter in the nation than Matt Bosher? His backup David Strimple wasn't any better. When your offense can't move the ball, you better have a good punter to give your team a decent field position.
But what disturbed me the most going into the Georgia Tech game was a quote by Randy Shannon. He said the players don't trust the coaches. It's easy to blame the coaches for Miami's recent regression. Shannon is ultimately responsible for the product on the field. But it's clear the talent level is the worst Canes fans have seen since the days of probation in the late 1990s. Shannon has tried disciplining players by taking away playing time and changing personnel. But nothing has worked so far and you have to attribute this to a lack of talent.
I'm willing to wait and see how Shannon's recruits develop when they enter UM. If you believe the recruiting experts, the Canes should bring in a great crop of new talent this coming signing day. UM currently has 17 high school players committed including some of the very best in South Florida. But let's not forget Kyle Wright was all-world coming out of high school. Shannon and his staff must prove they develop talent as well they can recruit it. Those are two totally different things. Success will not happen until this coaching staff can do both.