A win is a win, but this Miami blowout is a little deceiving. After the ‘Canes jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, a boatload of mental mistakes resulted in a valiant comeback effort by the 37-point underdog Temple Owls.
Yes, Miami wound up winning 44-21, but they played nothing like the No. 1 team in the nation should play against a lackluster opponent.
Mental mishaps were the theme – missed field goals, poor punt snaps, and fumbles. The ‘Canes seemed to manage to pull off every mistake in the book on Saturday, and the players and coaching staff know that they can ill afford to do that again, especially against the surplus of quality teams left on their schedule.
Miami’s carelessness began in the second quarter when punter Freddie Capshaw could not handle a low snap, and subsequently fumbled, giving Temple the ball at Miami’s one. The Owls would punch in a touchdown by halfback Tanardo Sharps.
Miami continued its mental errors with a Jason Geathers fumble on the following possession. This resulted in another Sharps touchdown, pulling the Owls within a touchdown, 21-14. This was as close as Temple would get, but it was a little to close for comfort.
“It’s like we were asleep,” Miami center Brett Romberg said. “I never felt we were into this game. It was almost like we were practicing or something.”
In addition, the usually automatic Todd Sievers missed field goals of 34 and 45 yards and also missed an extra point.
“Last week, we had no problem keeping our (concentration),” head coach Larry Coker said of UM’s 41-16 victory against No. 6 Florida in Gainesville. “There were 80,000 people in the stands against an in-state rival. Today, we were playing in a stadium that was half-full in a game, that on paper, wasn’t as important as last week’s.”
“You learn something each week,” said Coker. “There’s no lead that’s safe. Hopefully, that’s something we learned this week.”
Temple’s All Big East defensive lineman and son of former New York Jets star Joe Klecko put up a valiant effort against the Miami offensive line.
Klecko managed to sack Dorsey once, while harassing him much of the game.
“He’s been telling me every year, ‘Maybe you’ll get me next season,” Klecko said of Dorsey. “I finally got him.”
Backup quarterback Derrick Crudup was also sacked – the UM offensive line has given up four on the season – one more than all of last year.
Sophomore running back Willis McGahee rushed for 134 yards and scored four touchdowns. It was McGahee’s second consecutive week rushing for over 100 yards, following his monster performance against Florida last week. McGahee has rushed for 398 yards and five touchdowns in three games so far this season.
With the victory, Coker improved to 15-0 overall as a head coach. Coker’s start at Miami is the best of any first-time head coach in the modern era of college football without a tie or loss. Coker’s unbeaten start is the best by a first-time Division 1-A head coach since Walter Camp of Yale won his first 28 games before a loss in the 1888-89 season.
The Miami victory also extended Miami’s national leading win streak to 25 games and Big East record win streak to 18 games.
True freshman cornerback Glenn Sharpe made the most of his first career start. On top of playing solid defense, Sharpe recovered a fumble on kickoff coverage, setting up a Ken Dorsey touchdown pass to Kevin Beard…Ethenic Sand’s 53-yard catch in the fourth quarter was the longest of his career and the longest by Miami this season…Miami’s 112 rushing yards was their lowest total in a regular season contest since they rushed for 101 yards against Troy State last season…After getting off to a fast start in 2002, Jason Geathers was held to minus four yards rushing and a fumble.
Brian Poliakoff can be reached at email@example.com