Co-Public Relations Manager Brandon Carusillo reflects his opinion on the outcome of the University of Miami vs. Florida State University game on Saturday.
Despite the absolute category five hurricane that the Miami Hurricanes brought in the first half, we learned some things about the 2014-2015 season’s team. The ugly truth was obvious: the Miami Hurricanes came up short with opportunities throughout the game, mainly the first half, to go for the kill. In the second half, they decided to play to not lose the game; which is the biggest mistake a sports team could make when facing an “elite” opponent like Florida State University.
After the game’s results, Miami fell to 6-4 and 3-3 in the ACC, while Florida State improved to 10-0 and 7-0 in the ACC where again, they have won the Atlantic Division.
In the first half, Miami’s fan base could have looked at a lot of things as to why the Miami Hurricanes ended up losing the game. For instance, a blocked extra point and a missed field goal by Miami Kicker/Punter Michael Badgley that ended up killing the Hurricanes’ chances later on. Instead of a 30-26 loss, it could have been a 30-30 score heading into overtime, or even a 33-30 ‘Canes win if the Hurricanes had an opportunity to get into field goal range. If they gained a field goal, the plays would have been astronomically different. After all, the opportunity arose when they got into Florida State’s territory with plenty of time left, trying for a touchdown.
Besides the first half of the game, other missed opportunities arose, like if Wide Receiver Braxton Barrios held on to the touchdown pass. Or, if Miami Quarterback Brad Kaaya,who finished with 16-of-34 for 316 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, didn’t overthrow Miami Wide Receiver Stacy Coley twice on would-have-been touchdown passes? The list culminates, creating another “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, but didn’t,” game for the Miami Hurricanes.
“We did a lot of things that hurt ourselves more than they did,” Miami Running Back Duke Johnson said.
At the end of the day, the Hurricane fan base speculates on the future of the team: if the ‘Canes want to be int he national spotlight and taken seriously as contenders, they need to take that next step in closing out “elite” teams. Keys to overthrowing these teams include turning the ball over at crucial times in the game, not making mistakes in the kicking and special teams game and not, in general, “shooting themselves in the foot.”
“Can’t make those mistakes in a game like this,” Miami Coach Al Golden said.
Though these things are recognized, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that Miami had the opportunity to win–and missed.
In the third quarter, things swung in Florida State’s favor including every call and even every lucky bounce or deflection. One of the turning points in the game included a deflection by Miami’s Linebacker Tyriq McCord on Florida State’s Quarterback Jameis Winston’s pass at the line and Running Back Karlos Williams catching the ball and scoring for Florida State. In general, it was a flashback of University of Miami’s 2013 homecoming game versus Virginia Tech.
“Sometimes, you have to have a little luck on your side,” Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Though in the third quarter, the running game was successful, Miami relied on it too much, thus creating an almost inept offense by Miami. The running game was not successful enough to sustain a scoring drive that would have done wonders for Miami later on in the game. Eventually, the passing game turned cold and Florida State was all over Miami. No one on the Hurricane’s receiving core was consistently open, and Miami Quarterback Brad Kaaya did not have time to let the play develop. That’s what happens though when you lose valuable linemen earlier in the season. An inexperienced line could later haunt you, as it did the whole third quarter for the ‘Canes. This caused conservative play calling for the entire quarter and even some of the fourth quarter.
As the fourth quarter played out, Miami’s chances of hanging on grew smaller and smaller. Miami Running Back Duke Johnson performed well and overall had a great game (with 130 yards rushing and one score), but it seemed like the coaching staff relied a little too heavily on Johnson and the rushing game. Miami’s offensive line did not hold up for most of the quarter on passing plays as they were getting out played by Florida State’s pass rush.
In addition, the play call for Kaaya did not seem creative enough even when he did have time to throw. Give credit to Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff on putting his secondary in a position to succeed and shutting down most of the passing game in the second half; something Miami could not do for that half. The only points scored in the second half for the Hurricanes were gained by Badgley’s 47 yard field goal. Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston, who finished the game 25-of-42 for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception, lead a final drive with the score 26-23 in favor of the Canes, that showed the nation exactly why he is the best player in college football. The same quarterback roll-out play by Florida State, with a crossing route by a wide receiver or tight end; something that Miami could not defend.
The defense played well for three quarters, but could not generate any pass rush in the second half and finally couldn’t contain Winston and company in the fourth. Running Back Dalvin Cook, who chose Florida State over Miami in recruiting, broke Miami’s heart again as he made a fantastic run into the end zone with 3:05 remaining to give Florida State the lead. Miami had the ball with three timeouts and plenty of time left, but ultimately their drive came up short, as the run wasn’t quite successful enough. This left Kaaya, under pressure for the entire drive, to throw one up for grabs on fourth and nine, which resulted in the game sealing interception.
“We were just a couple plays short,” Golden said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Maybe the ‘Cane’s lack of offense in the third quarter doomed their defense for the fourth as they were on the field for too much of the second half trying to protect the lead. Maybe they should have made more plays in the first three quarters to prevent being in a tough position in the fourth. Or maybe, just maybe, with the lights shining bright and the big lead, Miami played the second half not to lose.
words_brandon carusillo. photo_zach beeker.