POSTED SEPT. 2 AT 2:45 P.M.
Kirby Freeman went nine for 21 and was rather average in his decisions and ability to make big plays. His longest completion was 19 yards, which is decent but will need to be improved throughout the season. Spencer Adkins’ interception in the third quarter was quickly undone by Freeman who returned the ball to Marshall on the next play.
Running Backs: A
Head Coach Randy Shannon and offensive coordinator Patrick Nix have found the duo that can control the clock and put points on the board. Javarris James and true freshman Graig Cooper were nearly unstoppable. James rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while Cooper covered 116 yards.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C+/B-
Overall, the passing game was disappointing, accounting for 81 of the 341 offensive yards covered. Although Freeman may be to blame here, the receivers had trouble making plays after connecting with the ball. Lance Leggett had four of the nine complete passes and his longest catch was only 10 yards.
Offensive Line: B-
While the O-Line has improved somewhat from last year (although there was no way they could get any worse), they’re still struggling to create openings for the run game. However, they were able to prevent Freeman from being sacked. In order for the ‘Canes to have a successful season, especially when facing ranked opponents, this unit MUST be able to block better than it did against Marshall.
Defensive Line: A
Led by the towering Calais Campbell, the defense continues to be Miami’s strongest weapon. Campbell and JoJo Nicolas each had an interception. Blocking, sacking and tackling were, with few exceptions, everything you would expect in the first game of the season.
This unit was successful in creating two of the four Marshall turnovers thanks to Tavares Gooden and Spencer Adkins. Gooden and Colin McCarthy were credited with six solo tackles and McCarthy also had one of six sacks.
Secondary coverage overall was successful in preventing Marshall from reaching the endzone the entire game. However, the Herd was able to break away a few times. Shannon mentioned this as a weakness that must be fixed going into next week’s game against Oklahoma.
Special Teams: B-
One punt out of bounds and a missed field goal were almost expected from first timers Daren Daly and Francesco Zampogna. With time, freshman Graig Cooper may be the next Devin Hester in the return game.
Shannon proved that he will lead the Hurricanes back to the top through humility, team work and playing solid football. His players respect and listen to him, which led to small but important changes on the field such as a decrease in penalties. Play calling was safe and the offense still has work to do, but there is an overall improvement from last season.
Stacey Arnold may be contacted at email@example.com.