Miami Hurricanes leave out the “D” in Dallas

The No. 8 Miami Hurricanes took on the No. 25 Louisiana State Tigers to open their season and Miami Sports Wave writer Luis Estrada (@Luisakalefty) was in Dallas along with thousands of Hurricanes fans. It is great to see the enthusiasm from our fan base to make the trip to Jerry World right from the jump. Unfortunately Canes Nation left the Lonestar State disappointed as Miami fell 33-17 to LSU.

When the Miami Hurricanes are good, college football is so much better. Under Coach Mark Richt the recruiting has been outstanding each year, and now we are almost getting the depth we need throughout the roster. The drop-off of talent is less and less as you build an elite program, and Miami will be to the point of simply reloading year to year very soon. To open the season at a neutral site against a quality SEC opponent says something about the confidence that Richt has about this team. No cupcakes to open the season if we want to be in the big dance, it’s step on the gas full speed Week One. You need to make a statement.

 

Well, a statement was made. Just by the team in yellow.

They weren’t scared. This isn’t that era. Nor is now a time for extreme overreaction after one contest. It’s just a punch in the gut to all Hurricanes fans who have waited since the early 2000’s for the return to glory.

Simply put, to take the next step and become elite again, a game like this is a showcase. An exhibition. The whole college football world is watching in prime time, on Labor Day weekend. Since it is the last Sunday before the NFL season begins, the stage is yours. People still say are they all the way back?  Ideally you want to remove all doubt quickly. That did not happen for Miami.

Miami received the opening kickoff in an electric initial stanza from AT&T Stadium. Malik Rosier misdiagnosed a read-option as the frenetic crowd made a statement early, and the Hurricanes went three and out. LSU took over with excellent field position after the punt. Miami’s defensive unit made their season debut to the delight of jewelry fans everywhere.

LSU started Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow. The fact they started a Buckeye transfer surely made it easier for Miami fans to bring a little extra when LSU had the ball. Since last season it has seemed like a turnover was not only possible or even probable, it was imminent. That eagerness to get the initial “Turnover Chain” was costly as sophomore defensive back Trajan Bandy was ejected for targeting on a hard hit across the middle. The hit forced a fumble which was recovered by the Tigers. Without Bandy Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz had to shift gears quickly in the secondary. The Hurricanes defense maintained composure and kept up the pressure on Burrow. Miami forced a field goal and trailed 3-0 halfway through the first quarter.

The second possession started off much better for the Hurricanes as Malik Rosier hit Jeff Thomas on an acrobatic completion towards the sideline.

 

 

That was immediately followed by a deep strike to Lawrence Cager to enter scoring territory. Miami was running up tempo and mixing in RPO, however Rosier missed on consecutive throws and the Hurricanes were held to 38-yard field goal by true freshman Bubba Baxa.

 

With the LSU offense back on the field, Miami turned up the pressure from the front seven. When the Hurricanes put teams in third and long situations, good things happen. Another close call as the Chain was almost ready for prime time. Michael Jackson, a close friend of the Chain, almost had a reunion on a pass attempt by Burrow that was initially ruled a fumble. The call was overturned on review, and the Turnover Chain would lay in wait.

 

The first quarter seemed to drag on a bit as there were numerous stoppages. Miami got the ground game going with DeeJay Dallas, who was punishing defensive backs with his physical running style. If anyone knows how to play a little SEC style ground and pound, it’s Mark Richt. Miami also balanced the attack with deep shots against a banged up Tigers’ secondary. Rosier could not connect and finish the drive, and the Hurricanes were forced to attempt another field goal. Baxa made us quickly forget his successful audition as he shanked one to the left to keep it tied late in the first quarter.

Miami kept harassing Burrow while at the same time giving him some second chances with penalties. LSU was hurt by a dropped pass but were able to put a couple first downs together and move the ball. Then the first real mistake by Miami manifested itself as LSU running back Nick Brossette gashed the aggressive defense for a 50-yard score to make it 10-0 as the first quarter finally neared a close. There were six accepted penalties in the first quarter, Rosier was able to move the ball effectively between the 20’s and finished the opening frame with 86 passing yards. Several missed throws down the field hurt the Hurricanes early, especially on third down.

Since Rosier and the offense were largely ineffective to open the game, it seemed to take some of the energy out of the Miami faction. The loyal Hurricanes contingent needed a boost from their defense. Another third and long situation put the Tigers in a hole, but LSU converted a fourth down using the big uglies in heavy personnel to enter Miami territory. LSU followed that fourth down conversion with another one, helped by a Miami offsides penalty. To end the drive Burrow hit a pass to get inside the one, and LSU quickly punched it in to go up 17-3 halfway through the second quarter. The Hurricanes defense seemed a little rattled and really needed some support from the other side of the ball.

Miami still struggled with penalties and mediocre offensive line play in the first half. The front five is a unit in transition and will get better as the season continues. Once again the Hurricanes could not convert on third down and failed for the sixth time to open the game. Zach Feagles chunked a punt to once again set up LSU with good field position. LSU took advantage for another field goal to make it 20-3 with about five minutes to go in the half.

There were simply too many open receivers running around unimpeded through the Miami secondary. Simply too many missed tackles against a good opponent that you overlooked. Rosier was not sharp in the first half, but he didn’t make the killer mistake. Until he did exactly that.

 

Eight penalties. Zero third down conversions. A pick-six to put you down by 24 points.

And… we still had one half to go!

 

Second half brings false hope

Simply put, Malik Rosier was hot garbage most of this game. He cannot complete passes at a reasonable percentage. That is a pretty important trait for a quarterback to possess. When he shows flashes they are exactly that, gone in an instant. Miami has no intermediate passing game to speak of, and when Rosier is off the results are a disaster. He hangs throws up over the middle under pressure and misses easy completions. Some of this has to go on the offensive coaching staff, they are not calling plays that put him in a position to succeed. For some reason the University of Miami football team does not have a tight end on the roster. If they do he does not appear in games.

To make matters worse is the offensive line, there was no sustained push against a stout LSU defensive front. When you have an erratic quarterback without a safety valve at tight end, if you don’t give him a running game you score three points in three quarters. We have good running backs. We have dynamic wide receivers. We also have a propensity to forget how to get them the ball.

The second half of this game was more of the same, although in a slightly more palatable version. Miami still could not sustain drives despite sticking with the running game to a degree. LSU was much more balanced, at one time in the fourth quarter having exactly 133 yards both rushing and passing. The Hurricanes do deserve credit, they did not quit. That has been a trait since Richt took over, even when we have been getting our ass handed to us we do not give up. Finally Rosier hit a couple big plays, including a beautiful pass to freshman Brian Hightower for his first career touchdown.

 

The play got the Miami crowd back into the game and Diaz’s defense picked up the intensity with a big stop to force a punt. Despite being dominated in the trenches for the majority of the game, the big boys stood tall in a crucial late game situation to get the ball back. Unfortunately they were giving the ball back to Malik Rosier. Only down two scores with over six minutes and two timeouts left, Rosier could change the narrative. He hit a nice intermediate pass on third and 25 followed by a solid fourth down strike to move the chains. Here was the flash. Hightower made another tough grab with one arm being held by a defensive back and the buzz was back in the building. Then Rosier went back to missing throws. Two straight overthrows with the last one almost going the other way. Fourth and ten. Rosier goes down in a heap as the Tigers defensive line simply destroys the interior of Miami’s offensive line.

At the end of the day statistics really do not matter much. Rosier had almost twice as many passing yards as Burrows. Thomas led all receivers with 132 yards and two spectacular catches. It did not matter. As the quarterback goes, so does the team. Along with a run defense that was simply blown off the ball, these were the two main reasons Miami lost. The battle in the trenches was lopsided on both offense and defense, when they go back and look at the tape there is going to be a lot of blame to go around. A few guys showed up, most assumed they would walk through this one. They did, only problem it was a sleep walk.

 

Follow us on Twitter @MiamiSportsWave and @MiamiSportDave.

 

Related:

Miami Hurricanes game day coverage from our partners

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 thought on “Miami Hurricanes leave out the “D” in Dallas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *