The Hurricanes’ final game of the 2006 season was a vivid depiction of their entire season: a tumultuous up and down game for a talented team who, wrapped in its own mediocrity, was able to barely get away on top.
The team, which took center stage at the MPC Computers Bowl, proved two things: 1) They had a number of talented players, among whom many are returning to the team and 2) They still had not worked out a number of issues they faced throughout the season.
Among some of the brighter aspects of the game, sophomore quarterback Kirby Freeman was able to connect on a couple of home run balls, something the team had virtually lacked the entire season. Freeman, who threw two touchdowns and ran one in for a third, connected with senior wide receiver Ryan Moore for a 52-yard touchdown and freshman wide receiver Sam Shields for a 78-yard touchdown.
Both Freeman and Shields showed a little bit of what might be expected next season. As for Shields, his quickness and ability to get open will definitely be something the Hurricanes’ quarterback, no matter who wins that job, will be looking for. As for Freeman, his ability to get creative and scramble around is an added dimension that Miami might find useful.
Additionally, the Hurricane defense saw some very good play from senior defensive linemen Kareem Brown and Baraka Atkins and sophomore defensive end Calais Campbell. The three were quite busy on New Year’s Eve, as they were in the face of and sacking Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe all game.
The Hurricanes also saw a great diving interception from freshman defensive back Chavez Grant. The interception, which came with 18 seconds left on the clock, could not have come at a better time, as the Wolf Pack were driving and on the Miami 36.
Despite these positives, there were some plays and some instances where Miami did not look polished. Kirby Freeman’s interception and foolish intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, which resulted in a safety against Miami, are two such instances.
Coupled with this was the effectiveness of the offensive line. The line did play better, but had they been playing against one of the tougher teams on Miami’s schedule, Freeman could have been in trouble. Needless to say, the line was not great, but they were not as bad as they were at some points during the season.
Defensively, the team allowed the Nevada offense to sustain itself and stay on the field, as is proven by some of their long drives and their 23 first downs.
Mix this in with Miami’s inability to go a game without racking up the penalty yards, and it can be seen that there were many aspects of the game where Miami could have performed better.
Despite many of these negative aspects, the Hurricanes did walk away with a 21-20 victory during Head Coach Larry Coker’s final game as a Hurricane.
After a quite disappointing season, Miami fans can take solace in the fact that they were able to salvage their final two games and come away winners.
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.