It wasn't pretty. It wasn't a dominant performance. But Saturday's 16-10 win against Wake Forest at Dolphin Stadium was the third consecutive victory for this young University of Miami football team, which is starting put the struggles this program has endured over the last three to four years in the rear-view mirror.
Last week, it was backup quarterback Jacory Harris who keyed UM's turnaround against Duke. This week, it was the other side of the quarterback partnership who ignited the Canes, starter Robert Marve. The red-shirt freshman finally got the offense going in the third quarter with a 48-yard run that setup the go-ahead touchdown. UM's defense, which was shredded on the ground to the tune of 116 yards in the first quarter, buckled down in the second half and didn't allow Wake to move the football with regularity anymore. Meanwhile, kicker Matt Bosher (with the exception of one hiccup) had an exceptional day. It all added up to a third straight victory for the Canes, who beat an experienced team that has won plenty in this conference the past several seasons.
> PLAY OF THE GAME: Marve's 48-yard third quarter run. Until he faked the handoff to Graig Cooper, turned the corner, juked a defensive back and raced up field, Wake Forest had basically kept the Canes in check. Marve's long run setup his own 1-yard plunge and go-ahead touchdown with 8:03 to play in the third quarter.
> IT WAS OVER WHEN: With UM leading 16-10 and trying to run out the clock, Marve scrambled on third and 10 and found Thearon Collier open downfield for a 30-yard gain to midfield. All UM had to do was pick up one more first down to run out the clock.
Offense - QB Robert Marve: For all the struggles he had coming into this game, Marve rebounded by making the play of the game, the clincher and scoring UM's only touchdown. He finished 11 of 20 for 153 yards and ran for 56 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Honorable mention: WR Travis Benjamin. The Blur led the Canes with 72 yards receiving on four catches and his 52-yard catch in the first half setup UM's first field goal. He also hauled in a key third down pass in the second half along the sideline.
Defense - DL Adewale Ojomo: The redshirt freshmen is starting to fill in nicely for the injured Eric Moncur. Last week against Duke, he had UM's only sack. Saturday against Wake, he had six tackles, 1.5 sacks and an important forced fumble which led to UM's last field goal. He also shared a huge sack in the first half when Wake Forest was driving and he stopped their drive at the UM 40 by bringing down Riley Skinner on fourth down. Honorable mention: LB Romeo Davis. Romeo hadn't played much in a while, but was a key cog in stopping the run in the second half for the Canes. He finished with five tackles and made some punishing tackles as Wake tried to run the football up the gut.
Special Teams - K Matt Bosher:Yes, he shanked a punt in the fourth quarter and averaged only 36 yards a punt, but he made all the kicks he had to -- including a career long 52-yard field goal which had yards to spare. Bosher finished 3-of-3 on field goal attempts and made his extra point. ]
A FEW MORE THOUGHTS...
> Shannon has shown himself to be quite the gambler this season. Today, it didn't payoff. But I liked the chances he took. After UM scored to make it 13-10, he called for an onside kick and Bosher delivered a beauty. UM just didn't recover it even though it should have. He also decided to go for it on fourth down twice. The Canes couldn't convert.
> Sam Shields is starting to make plays for this team again. Not only did he make a nice catch and run in the third quarter, but he likely had the second biggest play of the game on the second half kickoff. Shields took a backwards pitch from Travis Benjamin and raced up field to the Wake Forest 45. He then took a shot on the sideline that drew an extra 15 yards to give UM great field position and to give the Canes a sense of momentum.
> After getting just 10 combined carries last week at Duke, Javarris James and Graig Cooper got eight more chances Saturday, but didn't produce a whole lot. The duo finished with a combined 41 yards and couldn't generate enough movement.
> What also impressed me a ton today was how physical UM played after getting whipped in the first quarter at the line of scrimmage. Wake Forest was the older, more experienced team. Yet, it was Miami that was handing out the licks in the second half. Laron Byrd had a catch where he took a shot, bounced off it and left linebacker Alton Curry on the grass writhing in pain. So much for the idea Miami was weak in the weight room. They were much more physical than team, older and more experienced than them.