Junior Jacory Harris finished 21-for-32 with 248 yards passing. Harris threw for two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. Harris was solid throwing short passes in the flat and connected well with junior LaRon Byrd on out routes. Harris’s two interceptions came on deep balls intended for junior Travis Benjamin. Harris has six interceptions this year and four of them were intended for Benjamin. Shannon blames Benjamin for the four turnovers but Professor Antweil begs to differ. Harris doesn’t put enough velocity on his deep throws. They flutter in the air for too long. Harris seems more comfortable in the shot gun and rolling out dumping the ball off. Miami only led 10-0 at the half and it wasn’t the defense’s fault.
Running Backs: B+
Senior Damien Berry was the featured back and did a solid job. Berry continues to prove he is virtually unstoppable after the initial hit. He ran the ball 21 times for 87 yards and had a touchdown on the first possession of the game. Berry deserved more carries at times. Redshirt sophomore Kendal Thompkins struggled on his lone carry. It was a reverse and he lost six yards. Thompkins has been disappointing thus far after a solid spring.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B+
Senior Leonard Hankerson dropped a touchdown pass but came back and caught one on the first possession of the second half. Benjamin’s routes were not crisp but all the blame should not go on him. Junior Chase Ford needs to have a better burst off the line of scrimmage. Byrd was phenomenal hauling in six balls for 69 yards. Junior Aldarius Johnson only had one catch but he made it memorable. He had a big first down catch that was initially ruled incomplete but replays showed Glue hands dragged his back foot in play and made the slick catch.
Offensive Line: B
It’s only fitting I give the offensive line a B because four of the five positions were solid. The only liability on the offensive line was senior right tackle Joel Figueroa. Figueroa was a turn style Thursday night and got beat consistently by the blue and gold. Figueroa ended up missing a block that led to Harris hurting his left arm/shoulder. Harris sat out a couple of plays but later returned in the same series. Harris was seen Friday at around 5 p.m. with a sling in his left shoulder. Freshman Seantrel Henderson looked great in his few snaps. Coaches are taking it easy with the youngster from Minnesota. Henderson was the lead blocker on the Berry 1 yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Henderson deserves to be starting at right tackle. Seniority should not matter. Henderson is the better player hands down.
Defensive Line: A+
Absolutely perfect. What more could be said? Miami had nine tackles for a loss and five sacks. They were constantly in the back field. Senior Allen Bailey finally recorded a sack for the first time in 11 months. Junior Andrew Smith played like he did in the three scrimmages recording multiple sacks. Senior Josh Holmes was fantastic as well. Every time you look up you see sophomore Olivier Vernon in the back field wrapping up an opposing player. Just a text book performance and much credit goes to defensive line coach Rick Petri.
The best move head coach Randy Shannon made was benching senior DeMarcus Van Dyke and starting fifth year senior Ryan Hill. Hill was fantastic and “finally became a Hurricane.” He recorded his first career interception and held Pitt standout wide receiver Jon Baldwin to only three catches that totaled 26 yards. Van Dyke later recorded an interception to boost his confidence. Junior All-American Brandon Harris was stout as usual and the safeties played assignment football. As for linebackers, junior Sean Spence played like Jon Vilma. He had 1.5 sacks and nine tackles, six were solo. #31 was all over the place. Senior Colin McCarthy was flying around as well. He and Spence played text book defense that led to an 18 yard loss on a Panther attempt at a reverse.
Special Teams: B
Senior kicker Matt Bosher was fantastic and senior Kylan Robinson recovered a muffed punt that was one of three takeaways Miami had. But dumb penalties continue to haunt this team. Freshman Tyrone Cornelius had an illegal block in the back penalty that negated a Benjamin touchdown. Special teams coach Joe Pannuzio needs to preach discipline. It’s been a theme for a while now.
Winning a road game against a BCS conference is tough, no matter what. So it’s a very a good bounce back win for the Miami Hurricanes after the loss to Ohio State. The defense was phenomenal and like I said before, playing Hill over Van Dyke paid dividends. But there are still weaknesses. Right tackle is a concern. There is no reason Henderson shouldn’t be playing over Figueroa. Age is just a number. That shouldn’t be a factor. Penalties continue to be an issue, not just on special teams but in all three phases of the game. UM had eight for 78 yards. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple needs to tell Harris to check down. The deep pass is good in small doses. I would like to see Byrd used more.
Professor Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.