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Grading the Canes: GT Report Card

Here's how I grade UM's effort against Georgia Tech. It was the best game this team has played under Randy Shannon and the most complete they've looked in years. Bravo, Canes.

Jacory Harris up close > Quarterbacks: He didn't need to be heroic this week. Instead, Jacory Harris was practically perfect. He threw five incompletions (two were drops) and finished 20 of 25 for 270 yards and three scores. He made one bad decision on the second series of the game, throwing deep for LaRon Byrd and nearly getting picked. He's still off to a great start in two games and the Heisman talk has already begun. He's currently seventh in ESPN voting. I think it's a little premature. But fun nonetheless. Grade: A.

> Running game: If someone would have said UM would outrush Georgia Tech before the game, we all would have laughed. But that's what happened. UM ran for 184 and GT ran for 95. Graig Cooper had 93 yards on 17 carries and Javarris James had 72 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. Both looked good moving the pile. Tough break for Lee Chambers. He had two carries for 12 yards and needed help to get off the field. We may finally see Mike James next week. Grade: A.

LaRon Byrd > Receivers/tight end: Not too many drops this week. LaRon Byrd had one on a cross route (the ball could have been thrown better), Dedrick Epps had another. But all in all, when nine different guys catch the football and eight of those have gains of 13 or more, you've had a great day. LaRon Byrd did a nice job bouncing back from his tough day at FSU with a team-leading five catches for 83 yards and a score. Former power forward Jimmy Graham even got on the scoreboard with his first catch and first touchdown. Grade: A.

> Blocking: Jacory Harris said it best after the game when he said he didn't even think about Derrick Morgan or Georgia Tech's pass rush. That's the kind of day the big uglies had. There were a few penalties -- false start on Matt Pipho and a holding penalty on Jason Fox. But Jacory Harris had all day to throw. And the line opened up plenty of running lanes. Grade: A.

Allen Bailey > Defensive line: Eric Moncur made his return and was an instant hit. He was huge on the opening series in disrupting Josh Nesbitt. Most importantly, however, other than the opening series when GT ran for 45 yards, UM's defensive line trusted each other to stay on assignment and avoided cut blocks. Freshman Olivier Vernon created three tackles for loss. Allen Bailey created a push in the middle along with Joe Joseph. The only thing missing again was a contribution from Marcus Forston. He didn't have a tackle and left the game in the third quarter with an injury. Grade: A.

> Linebackers: Darryl Sharpton earned a helmet sticked with his eight tackles. He did a great job tying up Josh Nesbitt when he decided to keep the ball instead of pitching it. Colin McCarthy had four tackles and Sean Spence had two. Jordan Futch made his first start, but only because McCarthy was having helmet issues at the start of the game. Bottomline, the guys did their job collectively. Grade: A.

Randy Phillips > Secondary: The only area on defense where there were still some deficiencies. Sam Shields finished with six tackles but was the victim on a few big pass plays Georgia Tech was able to strike on. Meanwhile, Brandon Harris looked like a beast again. He had three pass deflections and didn't get beat at all. When Demarcus Van Dyke (concussion) returns next week, Shields can go back to being a part time player. That will help as much as the return of Vaughn Telemaque did this week when he started in place of Jojo Nicholas. Telemaque and Randy Phillips were both solid on run defense. Grade: B.

> Special teams: If you thought FSU was a tough game for the Canes on kickoff coverage, this one was worse. Walk-on Alex Uribe kicked two balls out of bounds, but rebounded with better efforts in the second half. But the Yellow Jackets still got great field position most of the night. They started at either their 40 or 39 yard line five times on six kickoffs. Meanwhile, Matt Bosher had a tough day despite the lighter workload. Bosher missed a 26-yarder and 31-yarder late in the game. The positive? The lights out block by Futch that made SportsCenter and the returns of Mike James, Travis Benjamin and Graig Cooper. But like Shannon said, the Canes have work to do. Grade: D.

> Coaching: Much better on defense, spectacular again on offense and much better on clock management. Mark Whipple's play calling on offense put UM in position to score more than the 33 points they did. He was scary good. Defensively, UM was always in position to make plays. The work defensive coordinator John Lovett did against the Triple Option and cut blocks needs to be commended. Miami was ready for it. But the best part about the coaching this week? No timeouts because the wrong personnel was on the field. UM burned all six at FSU because of that. None this week. Huge turnaround. Grade: A.

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