Football

Patel: Young Canes fall to Gators but grow up in the process

Pravin Patel

Pravin Patel

One letter sums up the Hurricanes’ performance on Saturday night against the Florida Gators: L.

When everything was all said and done, and when people will look back at this game, all they will see and remember is that the Hurricanes lost.

What the record books won’t show is that this young Canes team battled for three quarters against a No. 5 Florida team that most expected to blow the Hurricanes away.

All that will be seen and remembered is a box score that reads 26-3.

Yes, it is true that a loss is a loss, no matter how you look at it. But, in my eyes, it is not that simple.

Though I understand and agree that there are no moral victories in football, I do believe that this statement is not that clear cut.

This game was much closer than the final score reflects, and you better believe that the UM coaches and players know this.

“It was an exciting game against Florida,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “I’m proud of these guys. We didn’t quit. We had a shot in the fourth quarter. That’s all we want on the road against a No. 5 team. It just got away from us.”

The Canes have a lot to be proud of on a number of fronts.

The offensive and defensive lines played hard. In terms of protecting redshirt freshman Robert Marve, the line did a solid job. Marve had time to look down field and make some plays with his legs. They did struggle when it came to opening up holes for the running game, but the loss of starting running back Javarris James in the first quarter, and offensive coordinator Patrick Nix’s play calling did not help.

The defensive line put a lot of pressure on Tebow all night. Though they only got to Tebow once, Tebow was frustrated and looked uncomfortable throughout the game.

Marve provided optimism about the future of the Canes’ quarterback situation. He showed intelligence, made plays with his legs and he didn’t turn the ball over. He has a lot to learn, and we still haven’t seen him air it out, but the future seems bright.

UPENDED: Miami punter Matt Bosher flips as his punt is blocked by Florida's defense for a safety during the first half of the Canes/Gators game last Saturday night. Florida topped the Canes, 26-3. COURTESY INDEPENDENT FLORIDA ALLIGATOR // Andrew Stanfill

UPENDED: Miami punter Matt Bosher flips as his punt is blocked by Florida's defense for a safety during the first half of the Canes/Gators game last Saturday night. Florida topped the Canes, 26-3. COURTESY INDEPENDENT FLORIDA ALLIGATOR // Andrew Stanfill

The biggest area of concern, for me, was with Nix. It makes sense that he wanted to keep the offense simple with Marve making his first collegiate start, but he called a way too conservative game.

He did have a couple of good play calls, but, in my opinion, he was the reason the Canes’ offense couldn’t get things going. This looked like the Miami Dolphins offense of a few years ago, where the play calling was simple: “Run Ricky Run.” It is no shock that the running backs had a tough night; Florida was able to stack the line and plug holes, knowing the Hurricanes were not going to air it out.

The wide receivers dropping easy passes didn’t help the situation. The unit did make some good plays, but they were unable to get the needed separation to help out the freshman quarterback, and when they did get some separation, it seemed like it was a 50-50 toss-up as to whether or not the ball would be caught or dropped.

The linebackers were also an anomaly. At times, they looked sharp – especially true freshman Sean Spence. But at times, everyone was left wondering where the linebackers were, as there were huge gaps in the middle of the field.

Looking back, though, the most disconcerting factor of the game came down to a VERY controversial play – an overturned pass reception that has been ruled incomplete. The problem with the call: It changed the face of the game. The Gators ultimately went on to score a touchdown as a direct result. This was the defining moment of the game, as the young Canes were unable to overcome this.

According to Shannon, “If that didn’t happen, then we were out of that situation and ready to move the ball down the field.”

So, yes, the team had some downs, but they also had many ups. This team is young and this game was a major step in the right direction: growing with each play.

What does this all mean?

The Canes were predicted to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division, but after this game, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canes were playing in Tampa on December 6 for the ACC Championship.

September 9, 2008

Reporters

Pravin Patel


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