Wake Forest vs. Miami: 10 Things We Learned in Hurricanes' Win
Miami pulled another one out in the end this season against Wake Forest with its 24-21 win in Sun Life Stadium on Saturday. In doing so, the Hurricanes advanced to 7-0 and have a huge showdown with Florida State in Tallahassee on November 2.
There were 10 things that could be learned about this year's Miami squad going into that matchup between what looks to be a pair of Top 10 teams.
Stephen Morris Is Maddeningly Inconsistent
Stephen Morris can be a first-round pick in May's draft. But that's only if he can figure out how to not look like an undraftable player with his maddening inconsistency. He was so inconsistent against the Demon Deacons.
At times, he had perfect mechanics. The ball would fly out of his hand like a perfectly aimed dart that only his receivers could catch. He would put the ball right where it needed to be with zip and poise.
And other times, he looked like Mark Sanchez. He would overthrow his receivers on easy passes. He would underthrow on easier passes. He would lay his receivers out to dry and throw dangerous balls.
He's lucky that his offensive coordinator chose to run more toward the end of the game than trust him with the ball. Because Morris is a quarterback who will lose the game if he doesn't learn how to become more consistent.
Duke Johnson Is a Heisman-Level Talent at Running Back
Duke Johnson proved Saturday that he's a Heisman contender. His 30 runs for 168 yards and two touchdowns carried the Miami offense. He showed that he's the most valuable player for the entire Hurricanes roster, and that if he goes down, they are pretty much done.
When Al Golden finally got his head on straight against the Demon Deacons and decided to lean on Duke, they were able to move the ball at will. As much as Dallas Crawford tries to be a part of the offense, Johnson will be the focal point for the Hurricanes in 2013.
Stacy Coley, Herb Waters and Allen Hurns Bail out Stephen Morris Quite a Bit
Stacy Coley made an insane catch toward the end of the game (see above) to give Miami a momentum swing. Allen Hurns had multiple third-down catches that went for first downs. And Herb Waters had a deep touchdown to give Miami its first score of the game.
Those are just a few examples of what these Miami receivers do for Morris. If Miami wasn't able to recruit the kind of talent that it has at receiver, Morris would look like an undrafted player every single game.
Clive Walford and Asante Cleveland Are a Pair of Talented Tight Ends
The best tight ends are ones who can use their bodies to create separation that isn't even really there. Most teams are lucky if they can get one guy who can do that. Miami has two. Asante Cleveland and Clive Walford are the perfect fit for tight end at the college level.
Walford and Cleveland use their nearly identical frames—Walford is 6'4", 259 pounds and Asante Cleveland is 6'5", 260 pounds—to body out defenders in zone coverages. They also have hands of glue and, between the two of them, have dropped just one catch against the Demon Deacons.
Miami Has a Deep and Versatile Pool of Offensive Line Talent
If a team's left tackle goes down, normally, the offensive line is going to scramble for depth and talent to replace them. Miami just seamlessly shuffled players around, and its line surprisingly played better.
It got more push in the running game and better protection for the limited passing game at that point. Miami had already been battling injuries along the line. It did a very unique shift that is extremely rare when Ereck Flowers went down.
The Hurricanes moved their right tackle to left tackle, their center and right guard to right guard and right tackle, and then inserted a new center. It worked very well for them, though, and that's a true testament to their depth.
Miami Has a Dominant Run Defense
Miami's defense dominated against the Wake Forest rushing attack on Saturday. Not only was it able to hold the Demon Deacons to just 59 yards, it allowed just 2.36 yards per carry on the day. However, take out the three runs that Wake Forest had of 10, 10 and 14 yards, and it's much better.
Taking out those three runs, the Miami defense allowed just 1.14 yards per carry on the day to a rushing attack that was already one of the worst in all of college football. Miami brought Wake Forest's team rushing yards per game average down to just 95.9 yards per game. Or in the bottom 10 of all FBS teams.
Denzel Perryman Gives Miami Defense an Attitude
Ray Lewis. Jon Beason. Jonathan Vilma. Rocky McIntosh.
The Miami linebacker lineage is long and full of talent. It will have another one added to its NFL collection when Denzel Perryman leaves the Hurricanes. But for now, he brings an attitude to the defense that most college football teams wish they could have.
The best example of that was shown when he lifted Dominique Gibson and planted him with what looked to be a spinebuster out of the WWE's Triple H's playbook. The defense started to play with more of an attitude after the big hit in what was a much-needed spark for the Hurricanes.
Short Routes Killed Miami's Pass Defense Saturday
Michael Campanaro had 10 catches for 88 yards and Tyree Harris had six catches for 95 yards. Outside of the 56-yard catch by Harris, this pair just tore up the Miami secondary with underneath routes all day. Screens, crosses and slants were the routes of choice by the pair.
Tanner Price was able to look like a much better quarterback than he really is by utilizing the pair underneath. Miami could have chosen to do this with its game plan, but it looked more like it just was unable to stick with the talented Wake Forest pair—specifically on third downs.
Special Teams Shoots Itself in the Foot with Too Many Penalties
Miami had multiple great returns during the game that were brought back by stupid penalties. The Hurricanes would either commit blocks in the back, holds or other penalties that they had no business committing.
Miami lost out on good field position at least a pair of times when it had to start within its own 10-yard line because of penalty issues. That's unacceptable, and Al Golden has to fix that.
Al Golden Is a Great Coach, but He Needs to Get Miami to Play a Full 60 Minutes
Miami is arguably the best team in the country in the fourth quarter of games. Over the past three weeks alone, it has scored 49 points combined in the fourth quarter. But the Hurricanes need to learn how to turn that adrenaline rush in the fourth quarter into a full game's adrenaline.
This all falls on their coaching. Al Golden has a responsibility to get the Hurricanes hyped for every game like it's against a potential national champion. If they can't start strong and play a full 60 minutes against Florida State, they will get demolished.
And that's not a good look for a team that finally is bowl-eligible.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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