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Postscripts, reaction from UM's win against Virginia

Tidbits and observations from UM’s 45-26 win Saturday against Virginia at Sun Life Stadium:

### UM fans justifiably expected Miami’s eighth win to come sooner, but if it’s any consolation, the Canes (8-3) now have won (at least) eight games for the first time since 2009 and for only the second time since 2005. UM’s win total has risen from 6 to 7 to now 8 (and counting) in Al Golden’s first three seasons.  

And after allowing 41, 42 and 48 points the past three weeks, UM allowed 27, albeit against a dreadful Virginia team. (Hardly a reason for a parade, obviously.)

The season will still be a disappointment because Miami likely won’t win the Coastal (barring a UM win, Duke loss and Virginia Tech loss next week). But a 10-win season --- combined with recent resolution of the NCAA case and a top-five recruiting class --- would at least end the year on an uplifting note.

### Al Golden, afterward on WQAM and during his postgame news conference: “I’m thrilled for the seniors. They’ve been through a lot of adversity. They decided they would come out and fight and not take the easy way out….We had more energy. Our tackling was really good in the third quarter. [But] we gave up a big punt return again. Our time of possession wasn’t very good (22:11)." 

Virginia ran 91 plays and had 483 yards of offense.

"On offense, we have to do a better job. Nobody can be out there that long defensively," Golden said. "We're just not that deep.”

### UM’s defensive backfield was very good for 3 ½ quarters, including Tracy Howard’s interception return for a touchdown to start the game (Howard admitted he knew the play was coming and “he did the same thing in practice,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said); Ladarius Gunter's pick and long return to set up a UM TD before halftime; and decent coverage that helped limit Virginia starting quarterback Larry Watford to putrid numbers: 10 for 25 for 106 yards and three picks.

But UM ended the game depleted at cornerback –-- a major concern with UM scheduled to play Friday at Pittsburgh. Miami, already without Artie Burns, lost Ladarius Gunter, Corn Elder and Nate Dortch.

Gunter sustained a neck injury late, left on a stretcher, and was taken by helicopter to Jackson Hospital for observation. [UPDATE: UM announced after 8 p.m. that he has been released from the hospital and will be able to play football again this season.]

Golden said the injuries to Elder and Dortch are "significant." Elder has been planning to join the basketball team as a point guard after football season.

Those injuries left Howard and Antonio Crawford as the only experienced cornerbacks. Larry Hope, who has played mostly on special teams, also is available. UM wants to redshirt cornerback Ray Lewis III.

### UM’s run defense was again bludgeoned in the first half, allowing 208 yards and more than six per carry. But with Virginia forced to throw a lot in the second half, the Cavaliers had just 35 yards on the ground after intermission, closing at 5.3 per carry. Virginia's rushing yardage total was its highest against an FBS opponent.

Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert put up good numbers (12 for 15, 117 yards) in garbage time late in the game.

### Safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who was told very clearly by coaches that he needed to be more of a physical presence across the middle, made two big hits, including one that nearly got him ejected before the officials correctly changed their mind and merely called it a 15-yard penalty.

### UM’s running game mustered just 90 yards, on 3.6 per carry. In the games Duke Johnson played, UM averaged 192 yards rushing. In the three games since, it’s just 101. Dallas Crawford closed with 55 yards on 16 carries --- including his 13th touchdown --– but his highlight was a terrific block on Stacy Coley’s 62-yard TD.

### The run blocking hasn’t been nearly as dominant as one would expect considering the supposed depth and talent of this offensive line. Aside from splendid work from Ereck Flowers and Brandon Linder, the line has had too many lapses. Seantrel Henderson remains one of this season’s biggest disappointments.

### Of UM's 14 possessions, six ended with either three-and-outs or a turnover before a first down was made. That has been a problem all season.

 ### Virginia outgained UM, 483-304, but Miami’s four takeaways were huge. “That’s something we were lacking, and part of what the problem had been,” D’Onofrio said on WQAM. “We had sudden change stops, red zone stops.”

### D’Onofrio dialed up some timely blitzes, including one from Antonio Crawford that forced a third down incompletion. The hope is that the secondary, which will be more experienced next year, will be good enough in coverage to allow a more aggressive defensive approach next season.

### Stephen Morris’ numbers were again bloated because of yards after catch. In fact, all of Coley’s 62 yards on his TD catch were YAC. Morris closed 13 for 26 for 214 yards with two touchdowns and a pick.

“I had a couple of tears in my eyes, was watering up,” Morris said about running through the smoke for the final time at Sun Life Stadium. “Coming here, you never see yourself leaving.”

### One of the best developments of the season: Coley has becoming an electrifying playmaker. He has seven TDs on the season and has plays of 81, 79 and 62 yards the past three games.

### Aside from Johnson, Allen Hurns clearly has been UM’s most consistent offensive skill position player this season. He had six catches for 126 yards on Saturday, including a 26-yard touchdown, and now has 965 receiving yards for the season. He also moved into 10th place on UM's all-time receptions list (110).

"He's a testament to what we want in our program," Golden said. "He's self-made. He is a leader."

### Aside from blocking, UM got nothing in the passing game from tight ends Saturday, with Clive Walford, Asante Cleveland and Beau Sandland all finishing without a catch. In fact, only three UM players had receptions: Hurns, Coley (5 for 81) and Crawford (2 for 7).

### Good to see some of the young players get more work, especially on defense. Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad, who could become everydown players at outside linebacker, got some work on first and second downs, with mixed results.

McCord should have made a stop for a loss on a third and three, but couldn’t make the tackle, and Virginia got a first down. But give McCord credit for forcing the quarterback fumble that David Gilbert scooped up and sprinted 73 yards for a touchdown.

UM hoped Gilbert, a senior transfer from Wisconsin, would have been a bigger factor this season. “Happy for him,” Golden said.

### Junior defensive end Ufomba Kamalu played a lot, and pretty well, and he factors in significantly into UM’s plans next season. Kamalu gives UM terrific size at end: He’s 289 pounds and UM expects him to be top 300 pounds by next fall. Tackle Earl Moore also got some work.

### UM's 17 INTs are its most since 2003... UM snapped a three-game losing streak against Virginia... The senior class finished 17-9 at Sun Life Stadium.

### Four-star California-based quarterback Brad Kaaya, one of UM’s key commitments, is visiting UCLA this weekend. But he remains orally committed to UM and was asking people on Twitter for a UM score update on Saturday.

Comments

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202canefan

Thanks to the seniors!

Juan

This win was unsatisfying. Is that fair to say or are we spoiled???

Dorito sucks

It's definitely fair, Juan. We still allowed 483 yards of offense to a piss poor Virginia team.

Realistic Cane

Its amazing how many injuries we have sustained. Hopefully we can get by Pitt next Fri and have a nice layoff before the bowl game. I'm not expecting both Duke and Va Tech to lose, plus FSU would destroy us by 40 in the conference game, especially with how decimated we are with injuries. We're literally running out of bodies at key positions, like CB and WR. Lets just play in a decent bowl and gain the necessary experience.

Still A U fan

Let's see. Duke or Georgia Southern?

rboud

Please, no Johnny Football or LSU in a bowl game. That would end the season on a depressing note. It's sad how depleted this team is getting at wide receiver and especially at cornerback. I hope Artie Burns can play next week in the Cold Bowl. Best of luck to Gunter - Neck injuries are scary.

AnonymousCane

Where are all the Gator trolls? After losing to Georgia Southern probably out back looking for the nearest tree to string up Muschamps. But hey if you need to borrow $400 he can be your best buddy!

Georgia Cane

It could be worse Canes fans? Gaytors went from BCS bowl last year to toilet bowl this year, I know they had a lot of injuries but that's a big turn around.

Jonny

Thank you, Lord, for the win - against a really bad team fighting hard for last place in the conference. The win and the score were deceptive - we looked terrible on defense and offense. Va gained nearly 500 yards against us - again. We ran up 300.

Last 4 games, we have given up over 525 yards average per game - ugly football. The defense gives us 3 and a half touchdowns, without which we lose. That is not 'winning ugly', that is ugly football.

Maybe this ugliness is the result of the NCAA's three year investigation penalty. Maybe they should have given us 3 more scholarships per year for the next 3 years to undo the damage they have done! Then again, maybe we earned it. And maybe we can beat so-so Pitt, too. How many points will we be favored by? And maybe the defense will be better next year after a top 5 recruiting class comes in. After all, look what Florida has done with their two top 5 recruiting classes.

What sounds worse: Duke or Georgia Southern. I'd like to see Duke vs GaSo in a bowl game to find out. Where is Ga Southern, anyway. Anybody know? If I drank or did that other stuff, I think I'd go do some.

Go Canes - just not to Alabama or Tallahassee for a while.

Ted Hendricks

Hats off to Golden. We are lucky to have him and the fact that he did not bail when he could have, should make us appreciate him better. We are headed in the right direction with him at the helm!

Marco

Huh, Golden needs to seriously fix our defense. So far he's shown he is a great manager of things not named football.

Marco

And that darn D scheme we saw in the first half was more of the same, HOT GARBAGE!!!

DrDan

even at 9 am on the West Coast it is a pleasure to see the U on the helmets fluyig around. Got to figure out a way to trick Pitt!!

ZONE

Terrible Post..... the reason why Gilbert hasnt done much this season is b/c of the scheme, it sucks.

D'onofrio is garbage and Golden is the worst HC Miami has ever had.

Of course blame the Defensive problems on the offense Golden since the defense is u and ur boyfriends personal pet. smh terrible

The offense has been carrying the load for this team all season.... the players arent even to blame. It's the coaches and specifically the Head Coach and DC.

al

look the loss to Duke stings a bit, but if we beat Pitt, that a 9-3 Season before a payday bowl game possible victory. Plus, THOSE ADDITIONAL BOWL GAMES PRACTICES WILL HELP THIS TEAM TREMENDOUSLTY,,REMEMBER, THE CANES HAS NOT HAD THESE ADDITIONAL PRACTICES SINCE 2011 BOWL GAME.

lannertcito

If Miami beats Pitt on Saturday, the Canes will finish up with a 9-3 pre-bowl game record in Al Golden's third season, the same pre-bowl record Randy Shannon owned after his third season with UM. Shannon's squad in 2009 beat three ranked teams - Golden's current beat one ranked team, which is going to end up with a losing record for the first time since 1979.

Miami was 7-4 in Shannon's fourth and final season, before losing to South Florida to finish 7-5. The Canes' ACC record was 5-3 in 2010 - identical to its ACC mark in 2009. If UM knocks off Pitt, the Canes' ACC record will be 5-3, the same as last year.

Shannon was bounced after going 7-5 in 2010. Will Golden get fired if he goes 7-5 in 2014?

Sal

it really looks like canes are going to have a great 2014 class. Coach Golden needs to get together with Jimmy Johnson in the off season, and get his input on UM Defense , his "D" was what National Championships are made of. Hay Al don't be proud. Just saying, It's all about the "U".

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