The Hurricanes looked to get some revenge against the Cardinals Monday night for the embarrassing 36-9 loss in last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl, and did just about everything but that.
Miami came into the game with high expectations returning several players on both sides of the ball, including RB Duke Johnson, WR Phillip Dorsett, and LB Denzel Perryman. The deciding factor was thought to be true freshman QB Brad Kaaya, whom many fans seem to think didn’t live up to expectations. Asking a player, especially a first year QB like Kaaya, to go into a hostile environment like Louisville and win a ball game rather than manage it in his first collegiate start isn’t fair especially with the enormous amount of talent surrounding him.
With that being said, here are four things we learned in Miami’s gut-wrenching loss:
1. The defense is still horrendous. The Canes only put pressure on Louisville a handful of times, mainly in part to lack of rush now with their “3-4 hybrid’ scheme. They forced a few turnovers, yes, but after halftime it was a typical Mark D’Onofrio defense that fell apart. Louisville’s first time starting QB Will Gardner made the secondary look like Swiss cheese finding just about every hole in the secondary. As far as the run game goes, RB Dominique Brown ran just about any and everywhere that he wanted to as he totaled 143 yards on 33 carries. There is too much talent on that defense to not be able to succeed and there is nobody else to point the finger at other than D’Onofrio.
2. The offensive line was overhyped. Maybe this was in part to lack of preparation, but Louisville’s defense was in Miami’s backfield every single play before Kaaya could even make a read or Duke could even get back to the line of scrimmage. This year’s line was supposed to be the strength of the offense and they looked like the team’s biggest weakness.
3. We still don’t know how good Brad Kaaya is. He had no protection all game long. He has gotten a lot of the blame for poor play, but in a loss the QB always gets the blame and in a win gets all the glory. It is the nature of the position. All of the throws that he had time to make came off of playaction. When he did have time to throw, he made them count with the exception of an interception in which he underthrew tight end Stan Dobard.
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) September 2, 2014
4. Duke Johnson will get hurt by midseason, again. Offensive Coordinator James Coley doesn’t seem to quite grasp how to use the speedster, or his counterparts at the position. It seemed like Coley wanted to run Duke between the tackles more than get him to the outside. Johnson is the type of back that needs to get the ball off tackle and get outside rather than in the trenches. That is why you have the 230-pound RB Gus “The Bus” Edwards. He is the bruiser of the backfield and needs to be the one carrying it up the middle.
If this coaching staff doesn’t get the o-line and defense fixed, this team is an 8 win team at best. You have to wonder how much longer Al Golden can be loyal to under-performing coaches such as D’Onofrio. Luckily, the next two games will be home against Florida A&M and Arkansas State. These should be games where Kaaya can build the confidence he needs before traveling to yet another hostile environment at Nebraska on the 20th to take on the Cornhuskers.