I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I dreaded the GA Tech game all season. After taking a look at our defense in the first couple of games, I had mentally prepared myself for an “L” next to this game. Even after Miami’s impressive performance (in the first half, at least) against UNC, I was only cautiously optimistic because as anyone who has been a fan for the ‘Canes the past 5 years knows, they have a way of building you up one week only to break your heart the next.
Well now there is a new sheriff in town, and his name is Al Golden. Although I give the players most of the credit for yesterday’s performance, I believe our triumph was due in large part to superior coaching. How long has it been that we can say that? With our depleted defensive line, especially with the absence of Micanor Regis at tackle, Golden and D’Onofrio had their hands full with GA Tech’s triple option. The personnel moves and defensive strategy was surprising, so refreshing, and gives me boundless hope for the remaining games. Let’s get to the report card, something I’ve avoided doing after most games this season in the attempt to not be too negative about our defense.
After a couple of spetacular games, on Saturday Jacory Harris (8/23, 140 yds, 0 TDs) was more of a game manager than the game winner. For once, he didn’t need to be. Harris showed maturity by throwing away the ball when necessary and made a great 18 yard run play out of nothing that led to a UM field goal. What Harris did the best was deliver the mail, namely to play makers Lamar Miller (93 yards) and Tommy Streeter (3 catches, 96 yards). No matter what your feelings were on Jacory to start the season, you have to be happy with how he is progressing.
Oh, how I have longed to give our defense that grade! The Wrambling Wreck entered this game averaging 42.9 points per game and 517 yards. Um, try 7 points and only 134 yards on the ground and 77 through the air. That just happened. Sean Spence has truly cemented himself in ‘Canes history as one of Miami’s best linebackers. Moved to the Mike this week to help contain the run in the middle in the absence of Micanor Regis, Spence absolutely dominated the Yellow Jackets. Jo Jo Nicolas was impressive hauling in an interception of QB Tevin Washington on Georgia Tech’s first offensive play from scrimmage that led to Miami’s first TD. Moreover, the future for Miami’s defense looks bright between Anthony Chickillo and Denzel Perryman who contributed three tackles for losses and a forced fumble.
Special Teams: A
Jake Wieclaw delivered another perfect game (I don’t count a block as a miss), and P Dalton Botts seemed to get the memo that his job could be in jeopardy if he didn’t shape up, averaging over 46 yards on his 4 punts. For me, the play of the game was when Mike James (who was playing ST for only the 2nd time this season) jarred the ball loose from Zach Laskey and JoJo Nicolas recovered it in the end zone to give the Canes a 14-0 lead. Travis Benjamin also contributed an impressive 48 yard return.
Our beloved ‘Canes are finally starting to bear some resemblence to our beloved teams from the past, and after yesterday’s performance, I think Al Golden is making it clear to fans that we have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks, months, and years.