Tuesday, September 8, 2009

UM vs. FSU: An Instant Classic

September 8, 2009

All it took was for these two teams to step on the field for the dated rivalry to reignite and make the season opener for UM and FSU an instant classic. There were no wide right kicks in this showdown, but FSU did botch an extra point kick reminiscent of the old days. The battle was fought to the bitter end with fans on both sides chewing their nails all the way down to the stubs. In the end, the Miami Hurricanes prevailed and took a valuable victory from a raucous Talahassee crowd, moving into the 20th spot in the AP top 25.

No matter the outcome, the fact that the game was decided in the final minutes and seconds made this one to remember. It was an offensive shootout as both teams combined for 74 points and were able to score at will.

Jacory Harris entered his third NCAA start with poise and confidence, throwing for 386 yds, 2 TDs and 1 rushing TD (coupled with 2 interceptions). The Noles' QB, Christian Ponder, had a standout performance of his own, passing for 294 yds, 2 TDs and 1 rushing TD (he had an interception of his own as well). The entire Canes team mustered 476 yards of offense and 5 TDs on their way to victory.

In the greater scheme of things, Miami's offense looked explosive once again - a potential threat for other ACC teams. FSU was ranked 18th before the game began and to defeat a ranked team with such offensive numbers is impressive for a rebuilding team like the Hurricanes.

The obvious concerns are on the defensive end of things. Giving up 34 points is not something to be proud about, especially when you allowed the Seminoles to drive you deep into their redzone with just under two minutes to play. Randy Shannon must take this victory with a grain of salt as the final seconds were the difference between an upset for UM of FSU. It's safe to say that once the Canes get back on the practice field defense will be the number one priority.

On a side note, there has been plenty of public praise of Miami's Offensive Coordinator, Mark Whipple, primarily on sports talk radio. The man did a great job of play calling and helping the Canes move the ball down the field, thanks in part to Coach Shannon's new strategy of letting him control the offense. With that said, the rhetoric should be toned down when praising Whipple. It's only game one of the season and there are three more big games to worry about.

The Big Three

The next three games for UM include Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma - part of the four tough games Miami had scheduled to start off the season. Now that the Seminoles are out of the way and Miami got their first win under their belt, it's time to focus on the challenges ahead.

September 17th vs. Georgia Tech
A difficult match-up for Miami with GT's offense, especially the option play. Look out for a follow up article on a Miami-Georgia Tech preview.

September 26th @ Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech is always a cause for concern in the ACC, as they can be a handful on both sides of the ball. It should be a close game.

October 3rd vs. Oklahoma
With Sam Bradford likely out for this game, the match-up does not seem as daunting as it did before the season started. Everyone saw what Oklahoma was like without Bradford, and it wasn't pretty. The U should capitalize on this opportunity and come out with a win.

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