First off, I didn’t know Lady Gaga designed Maryland’s uniforms.
Miami should have been the one's rocking them because their play was rather grotesque at times in Al Golden’s debut. Then again, don’t discount the fact eight players were suspended for this game, including five defensive starters. They were not supposed to win this game.
Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly from Miami’s first game of the 2011 season, a 32-24 heart breaker in College Park.
- Although Miami’s defense struggled to keep the Terrapins from moving the ball down the field (one forced punt), they were solid in the red zone, allowing just one touchdown. They only allowed 18 points. Getting back three defensive starters will provide a significant boost—most notably senior linebacker Sean Spence, the heart of the defense.
- Lamar Miller showcased his big-play ability with a 41-yard touchdown burst in the second quarter. Him finishing the night with 18 rushes for 119 yards (6.6 YPC) is a good sign for the running game and he will be among the top backs in the ACC this year.
- Stephen Morris may have finished with two interceptions and a lost fumble, but his play was pretty good on the whole. The second pick was a late game prayer, which shouldn’t be held against him. He proved he has the arm to rifle the ball into tight windows, and his poise in the pocket under pressure bodes well for a young quarterback. What he really needs to work on is looking away from his primary receiver (Note the key late interception on a short out pattern). Elite quarterbacks have the uncanny ability to “hide” where they’re going with the ball until the very last second upon release. Overall, I think he showed enough to warrant the start against Ohio State in two weeks, although I’m not sure the coaching staff feels the same way.
- Miami’s play in the secondary was atrocious at times. Cornerback Mike Williams struggled immensely against bubble screens early, while fellow corner Brandon McGee was shredded on a critical late-game 51-yard bomb with 4:01 remaining. No question the return of several starters on the defensive line will help the secondary automatically, but they need to tighten up.
- Danny O’Brien carved up Miami’s defense to the tune of 348 yards through the air and another 37 on the ground. I’d like to see him play against a top flight defense at full strength, but this kid just may be the top quarterback in the ACC this year.
- 10 penalties, including enough delay-of-game flags and false starts to drive Golden mad proved to be one of the key reasons for the loss.
- Losing the turnover battle 4-1 makes it unbelievably difficult to win close games.
- Die-hard Canes fans may want to crucify me, but I saw plenty of good from this squad’s first game. They fought against tremendous adversity in hostile conditions and still had a chance to come out on top in the end. This will make them a better team in the long run if they are able to learn to limit the foot-in-your-mouth plays like penalties and turnovers.