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UCF progress report, midseason analysis

It's hard to grade last week's performance against UCF as a progress report considering it felt more like regression. But I'll stick with the theme considering the Canes got the win. Since we are also at the midseason point, I figured I'd also give you an overall grade and thought on each unit as well as an MVP. My grading system system, in honor of the Canes, is simple: National championship material (excellent), BCS worthy (good), MicronPC Bowl here we come (average), Coker-esque (poor) and Scout Team reserve (the bottom of the barrel).

Quarterbacks: For the second week in a row, starter Robert Marve took a step back instead of a Robert_marve step forward. Against a veteran UCF secondary, Marve was 8 of 19 for 74 yards and three interceptions. He admitted afterward he was confused by the coverage schemes UCF threw at him and had never seen it before -- proof positive he's not learning enough or fast enough in the classroom with offensive coordinator Patrick Nix. Jacory Harris, meanwhile, didn't set the world on fire finishing 4 of 16 for 14 yards. But he did play more than he has since he started the season opener in place of a suspended Marve. He failed to lead UM to a scoring drive for the first time this season, but was in there late in the game instead of Marve.
> This week's progress report says: Coker-esque. It wasn't as bad as Kirby Freeman's 1-for-15 performance a year ago against N.C. State, but Marve didn't do anything outside of a 25-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin that looked good. I don't think we are headed toward a QB controversy yet, but Marve needs to stop throwing picks. He's got seven in his last three games and now has 8 INTs versus 6 TDs. UM's pass offense, which finished 108th a year ago, is now 101st in the country.
> Midseason report card: C. Marve has to be considered the MVP, but he is headed in the wrong direction right now and looks a lot more today like he's going to be another Kyle Wright instead of a Ken Dorsey. Nix has turn to this around quickly.

Running backs: Graig Cooper carried the ball a career high 23 times and finished with 90 yards and Graig_cooper a touchdown. Lee Chambers, who hadn't carried the ball since the win against Charleston Southern, came in and provided a nice burst with a long 25 yard run. But there is no question in my eyes now this UM offenses misses Javarris James. Cooper always seems to start of great, ripping off nice runs. But he slows down and so does the UM running game.
> This week's progress report says: BCS Worthy. It was another good effort by UM's most consistent unit. But like I said earlier, the Canes need JJ back. And it looks like they'll get him this week.
> Midseason report card: B+. Not having JJ has hurt this group, but Cooper has played exceptional in his absence and earns the MVP for this group and possibly the entire team. But he's going to have to step his game up and prove he can be the featured back for four quarters if he wants NFL scouts to consider him an early round pick a year or two from now.

Receivers/tight ends: Everyone knows how much Marve struggled. But it wasn't a great day for any Travis_benjaminof UM's receivers either. Dedrick Epps and Cooper led the team with three catches each. Benjamin's 25-yard catch was about the only highlight. My question is, what's the real problem? Can these guys not get open? Are they not running the right routes? Is Nix calling the wrong plays? The bottomline is these guys aren't working in a lot of space. How many times Saturday did you see a UM receiver catch a ball and have any room to manuever? A lot of times, they already had defensive players draped all over them. You can't have success in the passing game if you can't create space. Part of it is the short routes and part of it separation.
> This week's progress report says: Coker-esque. Simply not enough production. I felt like I was watching a rerun of last season.
> Midseason report card: C-. UM has so much speed and talent at this position now. But we're only seeing it in flashes. And those have usually been provided by Travis Benjamin, the midseason MVP for this unit.

Offensive line: Unlike a lot of other critics who might rip this unit for the way they played Offensive_line Saturday, I'm not putting all the blame on their shoulders for the three sacks they gave up. Marve and Harris had a lot to do with it. Each had plenty of time to throw Saturday, but held onto the ball for long periods of time. Harris had an opportunity to throw the ball away the one time he was sacked and instead held onto it to keep the clock running. The running game is where more of my criticism goes. UM ran the ball 43 times and netted just 3 yards a carry. UCF's defense was good. But not that good.
> This week's progress report says: MicronPC Bowl here we come. Chris Rutledge looks like the weakest link on this line at right tackle. When he was splitting time with Reggie Youngblood, he was effective. But with Tyrone Byrd, he's not getting the same results. The good news is Chris Barney looks like he's back, which provides more depth on the interior.
> Midseason report card: B. They've given up some sacks this season and haven't been as good as we thought they were, but they haven't been bad. Jason Fox has been the obvious MVP of the unit.

OK, before we go to the defense... it's time to go to the polls.

The Front Seven: Talk about a turnaround. After looking horrendous against Florida State, UCF Allen_bailey provided the perfect remedy for this unit. Yes, UCF wasn't good. But UM made tremendous strides in its open field tackling this week. Daryl Sharpton showed me a lot. And, I don't care who you are playing, if you hold someone to four yards rushing its an accomplishment. Aside from about two scrambles, UM also patched up the problem of giving up first down runs on quarterback scrambles. And how could we forget about the five sacks? After collecting nine in the first five games, that was a major improvement.
> This week's progress report says: National championship material. Bill Young got the job done -- albeit against a weak opponent. But he got it done.
> Midseason report card: B. Of all the units we had questions about coming into the season, I felt this was the one area that needed the most work. All in all, these guys have honestly overachieved. How else can you explain that this group gave up 281 yards rushing to FSU and still ranks 20th in the country in total defense and 16th against the run? After losing Colin McCarthy and Eric Moncur for the season, this unit stepped up and looked like they fixed some major problem areas this week. But that still doesn't mean I'm not worried about this group going forward. UM isn't very deep at linebacker. Thankfully, the Canes have had freshman Sean Spence, the MVP of the group, come in and provide some major minutes and some big plays. Now, if they can get Allen Bailey going and a couple of freshman like Marcus Robinson going you could see even more improvement.

Bruce_johnsonThe Secondary: The Knights had one of the worst passing offenses in the country coming and didn't disappoint. Quarterback Rob Calabrese had trouble making simple passes at times. Still, nobody got beat on any deep passes this week and UCF's receivers didn't get very far when they did catch the ball. Chavez Grant looked good back in his nickel spot and had two pass breakups. The bad? The dropped interceptions. Brandon Harris and Jojo Nicholas had chances to make picks. They have to hold onto the football.
> This week's progress report says: BCS Worthy. Only 74 yards passing allowed and a few batted balls in key situations this week helped these guys have their best day of the season.
> Midseason report card: C. Only one interception from the secondary and several blown coverages hurt UM bad this season in losses to North Carolina and Florida State. But we got to remember how short-handed this group is. Despite the woes, UM still ranks 37th in the country in pass defense. That's not too bad. I'll give the nod to Chavez Grant as the MVP of the unit. He hasn't made a ton of plays, but of all the guys in the secondary he's made the fewest mistakes. By the way, anybody seen DeMarcus Van Dyke?

Special Teams: Matt Bosher finally looked human this week, shanking two punts. But he still had a solid day considering he had to punt 11 times. He had some good hang time on the majority of his punts and made a field goal. Travis Benjamin was limited in what he could do this week as UCF kicked the ball high in the air every time they kicked to him, but still provided UM with decent field position. The stain was the 91-yard kickoff return they gave up following an offsides penalty on DeMarcus Van Dyke. The play of the day was provided by Sam Shields, who recovered a fumble to setup the winning touchdown and redeemed himself for drawing a flag on kick catch interference earlier in the game.
> This week's progress report says: MicronPC Bowl Here We Come. The good ultimately outweighed the mistakes since UM won.
> Midseason report card: B+. Bosher has been phenomenal considering he has to handle all the kicking duties. He's averaging 40 yards a punt and is 9 of 10 on field goal attempts. I'm giving him co-MVP honors with Benjamin, who has finally provided UM with a badly needed game-changer on special teams.

Coaching: Last week, I got on Bill Young's case. This week, it's Patrick Nix's turn. His quarterbacks Patrick_nix were unprepared for the zone defense UCF threw at them and the Canes were never able to adjust and get the passing game going. Plus, I'm getting tired of those bubble screens. We see them at least once a drive. For a coach who looked creative in those trick plays against FSU, Nix didn't use one against UCF -- not even a reverse. He's getting too predictable. On the flip side, Young did his best to take advantage of a struggling UCF offense and made sure his players not only got to the quarterback this week with sacks, but didn't give up first downs. That's getting the job done.
> This week's progress report says: MicronPC Bowl Here We Come. You can't just have the defense playing well and expect to go anywhere. We saw what happened under Larry Coker when that was the case. Offensive adjustments have to be made.
> Midseason report card: C. Young has to be considered the MVP here. Aside from the FSU game and the final 10 minutes against Carolina, he's done a good job without much -- especially when you consider the injuries (McCarthy, Randy Phillips, Eric Moncur) and losses (Kenny Phillips) this team has had to endure. Really, only one freshman, Sean Spence, has been able to come in and provide a real lift. Young is ultimately doing more with this defense with less than the guy who was here a year ago. Offensively, Nix's clock is ticking. He's got more talent this year than he had last year, better quarterbacks, better receivers, a veteran offensive line and a solid weapon in Graig Cooper. Yet, UM ranks 110th in total offense and 11th out of 12 teams in the ACC. That's what UM ranked at the end of last last year. That's called not getting it done.

So what are your thoughts at the midway point? What are your grades for each unit? Who are your MVPs?


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lets go get charlie weis hehe

lets go get bo pelini hehe

lets go get philip fulmer hehe

lets go get tommy tuberville hehe

lets go get bobby bowden hehe

Maybe we shouldn't let Herbal Minded, be in charge of the smoke, that the Canes run through!

If you know what I Mean..
And I think you do...

You people need to get your heads screwed on straight. I don't think Butch Davis would be doing any better here than Randy Shannon is. I think butch DID inherit more talent at North Carolina than Shannon did here, recruiting class rankings be damned! North Carolina will have someone drafted this year, we won't. North Carolina will have more players drafted next year than we will. That's the long and short of it, and you'll just have to wait for that to change around. There is less talent in the top two classes this year then there were in any two classes during our sanctioned years when we had reduced scholarships!

You guys can talk about how great Javaris James, Colin McCarthy, Antonio Dixon, etc. are, but the fact is that none of our "stars" would have made it off the scout team in 2000. Everything I'm hearing from the fans now I heard about Butch Davis and Larry Coker (the offensice coordinator at the time) back in the late nineties, and look how that turned out. Everyone wanted Coker's head on a stick because he called games "too conservatively," and his offenses set records a few years later! There was more talent on those sanctioned teams than there is on this one.

When you don't have the talent that North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forrest, then you are not going to beat them. See the Orange and Green and pretend this is another group of kids if you want, but they're not good enough to win, and the coaches know it, and that's why they're being conservative and why we're losing.

I have supported Nix all year. But....... after the UCF game I just can no longer stick with Nix. (I will continue to support him this season) When was the last time you saw a crossing route or TE pass over the middle? He is an un-proven OC that doesn't have an identity nor knows how to adjust. Watching MNF I saw our ex-OC call a perfect game for Cleveland, it reminded me of Miami teams of the past. The budget calls for not paying coaches but I still think Miami would be better off firing Nix at the end of the year and hiring an assistant of a team that is running a pro style O all the time.

To all of you talking about the youth of Miami and how NC is playing more seniors bla bla bla. Look at this ESPN break down and see if it changes your mind. They have more FR and fewer SR.

Miami Breakdown
Freshmen 40
Sophomores 17
Juniors 21
Seniors 22

NC Class Breakdown
Freshmen 44
Sophomores 41
Juniors 22
Seniors 13

FYI - Not sure why or how UNC has more players but ESPN and SI.COM are identical.

Posted by: ChicagoCane | October 14, 2008 at 10:25 AM


Posted by: TXCane | October 14, 2008 at 12:02 PM



Go 'canes!

Bottom line is this team is not going anywhere with Nix at the offensive helm. I'm tired of the delayed handoffs deep in the backfield and passing "attack" consisting of throwing the ball within 3 yards of the line and hoping our receivers can beat 3-4 guys to get the first down. Nix's only experience was calling plays for a year in a gimmicky offense from G.Tech. Miami has athletes again that can beat folks at the point of attack in running downhill and vertically in the passing game. I don't buy that he's protecting the young qbs, from what 1-5 vs. 3-3? This is Nix's offense, it may look a little smoother with experience but the plays aren't going to change. I'm giving Shannon more time but the game management (last week before the half)and confusion throughout the game wasting timeouts is wearing thin. Can someone please coach Mavre to receive the snap with 2 hands in the shotgun. Awful habit, already dropped one in the UNC game. Jacory can catch Xavier's snaps securing with both hands, don't understand why Mavre can't.


I'm glad you posed the question about the roster. I did some digging and found out that the UNC number is deceiving because the entire 2006 freshmen class was redshirted. This list includes injured started T.J. Yates. As a result, the number of Sophomores includes a ton of third-year players. They also have 12 redshirt freshmen.

Can someone find out how many redshirt freshmen and sophmores are on our squad. Maybe UNC isn't so young after all.


I thought the same thing watching the MNF...Chudzinski called a brilliant game last nite. We haven't seen anything like that from Patrick Nix. They had balance, hit big plays, used the clock when necessary and took shots downfield.

I'm all for pro-style offense. I don't mind them using the spread sometimes, but pro-style works. Ask the defending super bowl champs and the Browns.


According to this site:

This is UNC's adjusted roster (* are redshirts):

FR 15
FR* 27
SO 13
SO* 29
JR 8
JR* 16
SR 8
SR* 11


Here's our roster. I didn't go through the roster, so the freshmen number in both schools may be inflated with guys who ended up going to prep school.

FR 28
FR* 37
SO 8
SO* 15
JR 11
JR* 17
SR 13
SR* 21

the main thing that is stopping me from jumping on the "get rid of nix" bandwagon is looking at the years of kyle wright. sure he could have done better with what he had, and may have been a coker choker, however, he dealt with three or more offensive coordinators. if we change up the offensive coordinator once again for marve and jacory it would be brutal, and will be set back another year. but idk. what do i know. i just want the to win again. thats all that matters.

The problem is players, and we do not have them yet! For God sakes Larry Friggin' Coker went un-defeated in 2001 AND 2002!! (Sorry Buckeye fan, you know the drill!) Is anyone accusing him of being a GREAT coach? His 2001 team is considered one of the greatest of all time! Is Butch a "better" coach than Randy? Maybe! Can Randy beat Butch, with Butch's players! Definitely!

When we get the players we need we will get better! When we get our injured players back, we will get better! When our recruits return from prep school, we will get better!

We are the second or third best team in the state, for now! (Sorry USF, it's true!)

I'm sorry if the 1999-2002 Hurricane teams were your first ride on this crazy train! This is the THIRD time the team has been down since I began following them! If you could look back at what the "fans" were saying each time Miami was down, you would be reading the exact same thing!

We do not need the best coach(es) in the NCAA to make this thing work, we need the best players, and capable coaches. If Nix is not the guy, he will be gone at the END of the year! Randy can only fix so many problems at once! Special teams is STARTING to improve under his watch!

Not to defend Nix, but it's funny how Young gets a pass, and his defense has been the one laying eggs the last two weeks! But we know Young is capable, so we give him the benefit of the doubt. Is Belicheck on the hot seat in New England? Of course not! He's a capable coach who happens to be missing the greatest player in the NFL at this time!




Go 'canes!

Hey manny,

your mid-season grades were at best generous, remember when this program first won with Howard, they went outside for J.J. (not Olivadoti) then J. J. left,they went for Dennis,(not the o.c. Gary whatever), then Dennis is gone they went out and got Butchie baby, here's where they quit the formula and stayed inside, got rid of the inside guy and choose another inside guy, big mistake;
morale of the story, call Sammy Jankovich


Scrap the first two roster lists I posted earlier...mess up on my part. Here are UMs and UNCs rosters (* are redshirts and the walk-ons are my assumption based on sampling a few players and noticing a consistent trend):

15 FR
12 FR*
17 FR Walk On
13 SO
16 SO*
12 SO Walk On
8 JR
8 JR*
6 JR Walk On
8 SR
3 SR*
2 SR Walk On

28 FR
9 FR*
4 FR Walk On
8 SO
7 SO*
1 SO Walk On
11 JR
6 JR*
3 JR Walk On
13 SR
8 SR*
1 SR Walk On

Butch is a genius....I'm guessing he has all of those walk-ons to keep the academic faculty happy about the team GPA and graduation rates.

Manny you mispoke about Jacory's stats from the game. He was 4 of 6.

Manny you made a couple of mistakes in your assesment of the QBs. Harris was 4 of 6 not 4 of 16 and he did lead the Canes to a scoring drive (Cooper 5 yd run) and a two-point conversion.

Secondly, you can't consider Marve the MVP when he's thrown more interceptions than TDs. Harris has a better QB rating, fewer INTs, and exhibits more pose and command of the offense when he takes the field, all with a fraction of the throws Marve has had.

I'm not completely sold that Marve should be benced, but we definitely should see more Harris and give him more plays with a higher potential of success.

What are Harris's stats minus the CS game?

It looks to me like the offensive playbook contains about 10 plays. Defenses shut us down in the second half when they know what plays are coming and Cooper is too tired. I haven't seen any receivers get open all season. That makes Marve force the ball into tight coverage, resulting in INTs.

The only thing that saved us last week was UCF's awful quarterback (11 of 37). Duke's quarterback is much better. A loss to Duke -- a legitimate possibility -- would be another embarrassment that might bury Shannon, although the Athletic Dept. is in no position to fire anyone under contract.

Not to defend Nix, but it's funny how Young gets a pass, and his defense has been the one laying eggs the last two weeks! But we know Young is capable, so we give him the benefit of the doubt.

???? Not sure what this ment????

We held UCF two under 80 total yards, the D couldn't have played any better. The only bad game this year was against Florida ST.

And, Young would get a pass due to his previous record as a DC. But, he doesn't need a pass because the D is looking great and getting better.

As for Nix, Marve stated that what they saw in the film room wasn't what UCF ran. Nix was unable to make any game time changes. Give him this year and see if things turn around, but he better change it up if we wants to win another 3 or 4 games. A pass over the middle would be nice, at least 1!!!

The 3-3 start is not the best, but there is still alot of football to be played.

We got ranked teams coming in: Wake Forrest, VTech and possibly GA Tech.

There is still time to turn this around and end the year with solid wins. The talent is there....

All of the grades were much too generous. The defensive performance looks good because it was playing one of the weakest offenses in CFB. Duke will probably make Miami's D look wretched. UTEP scored 58 on UCF and only gave up 13. And that is UTEPs only win! Miami's only other win, not counting CSU, was against TAM, which will probably edge out Baylor for the bottom of the cellar in the Big 12. Cooper is not a particularly good RB. Just look at the yards per carry stats and you see he is not getting the job done. If he could really run, UM would convert on third down once in a while. As for passing, Miami is very near the bottom of the world in yards per catch AND yards per attempt. If Nix had two brain cells to rub together, he could suggest that a receiver run past the first down marker. I have not seen any performance all year, except Benjamin against FSU, that would be better than Micron PC Bowl. If the team does not perform much better offensively, I don't think it will be going to any bowl. The problem is coaching. It took Coker five years to lose nine games; Shannon has lost 10 games in less than two. It is possible for Shannon to lose a total of 16 games before this season is out. Coker lost 15 games in six years. It is time to hold Randy and Nix responsible for the ineptitude and lack of preparation of this team.


Where did the canes start that scoring drive?

I could've done what Jacory did on that drive.

Time? Patience? Young team? These guys have played football their whole lives and it's the execution part of the game they stink at. So I don't buy into the "they're young" crap. And all this have patience, give Randy time is BS too. The guy has shown no improvement as a Head Coach, I'll say that again HEAD COACH, when it comes to managing the game, making adjustments or benching a player for disgracing the uniform. Randy has to leave now because it appears the foundation of talent is solid.

Im going to have to focus on Nix here. I totally agree with you about the bubble screens Manny. And can someone answer me this - Why are we throwing a screen to LaRon B. when we have Thearon C., The Blur, Davon J, and even Coop?? I LOVE LaRon, he is a stud, use him to his better abilities though. He's big and physical like Aldarius. Put Aldarius and LaRon on the outside, Blur on the slot. Throw some damn slants!! You guys remember when we had Santana and Reggie running slants and posts all day? Why is that so hard to run a 10 yd slant? Nix baffles me. You have some of the fastest kids in the nation, and you throw bubble screens and 5 yd routes to the outside. CHRIST, give me a play action pass to D. Epps. Epps is a stud, am I the only one who sees that? And if you really want to give shields a chance, throw a couple short screens to him, hes fast as hell. Work his confidence up, do something different Nix.

We're ranked 110th in offense, that's enough for me to say we need to get rid of Nix. What's the motto on this team...No Excuses.

Look, Nix's offense is too complicated and too conservative. His passes are mostly underneath and sideline passes. He throws lots of screens and very few plays that challenge the defense. Aldarius Johnson is a super WR that's fast, big, and physical, yet there are no plays where he is given a chance to beat smaller DBs.

Epps is one of the great TEs that has set foot on this campus, yet there are few plays where they try to get him the ball against mismatched LBs. His skills jump out out at you. Yet Nix is clueless on how to create mismatches. He uses Epps as the safety valve to dump the ball to. Just maddening.

Benjamin, as someone mentioned, should be used on slants and crossing patterns like Santana Moss used to be used. Instead Nix tries to use him on go routes and screens only.

Manny said it best when he said Nix's offense has no identity. His offense never has any rhythm. He calls the plays at random and has no feel for calling a game. Yes, because Miami has super athletes, he's going to look good sometimes but this offense will have to succeed INSPITE of Nix and not because of him.

Shannon should cut his losses and find someone who runs a less complicated and more open offense. Miami was always good at reloading because they had a more simple offense and the attitude was our players are better than your players. That's how we won in the past. That's what we need to get back to. You want to stop the run we'll beat you with the pass and if you want to stop the pass we'll pound it down your throat.


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