4:30 p.m. update: Some thoughts from Al Golden on a conference call moments ago:
### On Brad Kaaya: "He had poise. His line of scrimmage operation was good. There are two plays he wishes [he had back]. He made some really good throws. We clearly didn't protect him well enough. He was hit too many times. And we weren't good enough on third downs."
### Golden said Ryan Williams is not available for Saturday. "He's making good progress. When he's cleared, I'll let you guys know."
### Golden suggested UM shouldn't have played so conservatively last night.
"That's a fair criticism," he said when asked if the offense needs to be opened up more for Kaaya. "We probably should have opened it up more for him, based on where he is as a player."
### On the offense, in general: "We were taking too many negatives, particularly on first down. We need to do a better job protecting [Kaaya]. Louisville was going to jam the front with eight or nine guys. They were constantly moving around.
"We didn't play with great pad level. we didn't convert on money downs on offense. We didn't protect the quarterback. That's inexcusable."
### On the defense: "The defense got 3 and out on 6 of 12 series, 50 percent of their series. That's elite.... That's as productive at nose guard as we've been in a long time, with Calvin Hertelou and Courtel Jenkins. We were much more physical up front. Anthony Chickillo played some of his best football. We had minimal mental errors on defense. I thought we tackled really well. We held them under 4.7 yards a play. So if you play a little better on offense and take care of the football, that should be winning football."
### On the freshmen beyond Kaaya: "On offense, I was pleased with Braxton Berrios. The game wasn't too big for him. Joe Yearby did a nice job. We didn't think that was the environment to start out [KC McDermott or Trevor Darling]."
### Among other freshmen, Golden said receiver Tyre Brady and tight end Chris Herndon, and perhaps offensive lineman Nick Linder, will play against Florida A&M.
### He said "there are going to be a lot of jobs open, in terms of starting jobs up for grabs. That's going to be the case at a lot of positions. We've got to get better in the next 48 hours. We need to learn from that game, take ownership and move on to mission two."
### I asked Golden if he could confirm a web site report that that defensive end Al Quadin Muhammad was suspended. Golden declined to say if that was true. "It was my decision not to play him," he said.
Postscripts from UM’s 31-13 season opening loss at Louisville:
### Yes, this was a competitive game for much of the night, with the Cardinals making the score lopsided with a late touchdown.
But if you want to make judgments based on simply the neon lights of the scoreboard, this is the painful reality, folks: Of UM’s past seven games, five were losses by 18 points or more: to FSU (27), Virginia Tech (18), Duke (18), Louisville (27) and Louisville again (18).
That's unacceptable for a once-great program that should demand far more than what we're seeing. Either the recruiting classes have been overrated or the recruits aren't being developed. Or perhaps a combination of both.
### Last season, UM mixed too many three-and-outs with a bunch of explosive plays. The Canes offense we witnessed tonight still had too many three-and-outs but served up just a few explosive plays, and none of those explosive plays for touchdowns.
That’s a lethal combination, especially when you have a defense that might be improved but cannot necessarily be trusted.
Brad Kaaya, making his first college start, obviously needs to play better. He was efficient in the first half (8-12-84 yards, one touchdown on a two-yard pass to Clive Walford) and poor in the second (9-17-90 yards, with two picks and 46 of those 90 yards coming on the meaningless final drive). He closed 17 for 29 for 174 yards.
His poise, work ethic and talent suggest he’s going to get better with experience. The question is how much, and how soon, and whether he eventually relinquishes the job to Ryan Williams, who still hopes to return later in September or October.
But UM’s offensive issues extend beyond Kaaya. The offensive line wasn’t nearly good enough, especially the right side.
Guard Danny Isidora cost UM its last real chance of winning the game with two awful plays: an illegal-man-downfield penalty that wiped out a 36-yard pass from Kaaya to Duke Johnson, and a whiffed block that led to a Kaaya sack later on that possession.
Right tackle Taylor Gadbois, who irritated UM coaches with his lack of diligence about his conditioning during the summer, also had several breakdowns.
Stacy Coley, as good as he is, could have made a better effort to pounce on the lateral in the first half that resulted in a turnover.
Duke Johnson, done no favors by his offensive line, closed with decent numbers (20 for 90 yards), but keep in mind that three of his runs were for 24, 13 and 21 yards. He gained only 32 on the other 17 carries, undone by poor blocking and an inability to shake tacklers. And Johnson faced a lot of stacked fronts, because Louisville didn't seem too worried about Kaaya beating them downfield.
Bottom line: When you have a shaky defense playing on the road against a quality (albeit unranked) opponent, you simply cannot afford to muster just 13 points on five red zone appearances. And you can’t be inept on third down (1 for 13).
Down 14-10 early in the third quarter, UM got the ball at the Louisville 8 after Raphael Kirby recovered a fumble forced by Thurston Armbrister. But UM went nowhere, with Philip Dorsett unable to scramble into the end zone on a pass-run option gimmick on third down.
“That play worked in practice,” WQAM’s Don Bailey noted. But it wasn’t going to work against a defense as stout as Louisville’s.
### More disturbing numbers: In two games against Louisville (the bowl and Monday night), UM was 1 for 24 on third down. UM failed to convert any of its first nine third downs Monday…
Miami averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. Gus Edwards managed just one yard on three carries and ballyhooed freshman Joseph Yearby was never given a rushing attempt. (Yearby caught one pass for four yards.)
And there’s this: Of UM’s 13 possessions, six ended in punts, one on downs, two on interceptions and one on the aforementioned fumble on the lateral.
James Coley insisted UM wouldn’t play conservatively with Kaaya. But that wasn’t the case.
### No, UM can’t land every top prospect in Dade and Broward. But this hurts: 19 players on Louisville’s roster are from Dade or Broward. And many made key contributions: Corvin Lamb (97-yard kickoff return for touchdown), James Burgess, Eli Rodgers. Palm Beach's Gerald Christian had six catches for 59 yards.
### UM’s defense, overwhelmed on Louisville’s 12-play, 93-yard drive in the first quarter, held the Cardinals to 72 yards on its six other first-half possessions before unraveling in the fourth quarter. ESPN’s Samantha Ponder said UM defensive players were exhausted by that point, so fatigue was assuredly a factor.
Denzel Perryman (12 tackles) was generally outstanding, and Thurston Armbrister had some good moments, but the linebackers were again deficient in pass coverage (including Raphael Kirby), and end/linebacker Tyriq McCord was exploited in pass coverage, too. (Not sure why Mark D’Onofrio put him in that position.)
Calvin Hertelou, who returned to start the second half after sustaining a contusion in the first half, plugged the middle at times but was sealed off other times (including on Dominique Brown’s 15-yard TD run) and missed a few tackles. Freshman defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins flashed potential.
### Louisville outgained UM, 336-224. And despite occasional bursts of pass rush and a sack/strip (thanks to Anthony Chickillo and Perryman), Miami didn't do enough to disrupt inexperienced quarterback Will Gardner, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. Brown rushed for 143 yards on 33 carries (4.3 average).
### Al Golden’s take, on WQAM: “The errors we made tonight, there’s no excuse. That starts with me. I need to challenge the coaches to look at everything we’re doing on the way back and use all day tomorrow. It’s important we get better. We made too many mistakes against a good team in a tough environment to win the game. [We had] some penalties we hadn’t seen.”
### Golden, on Kaaya: “There are some good throws, some ones he would like to have back.”
The lateral that resulted in a turnover "was a designed run," Golden said. "[Kaaya] got a little anxious. We didn’t do a good enough job protecting him. He got hit too much for a first-time starter. That’s on all of us. We didn’t convert on third down on offense at all. We made too many mistakes. Our preparation was good. Our approach was good.”
### Golden, on his defense: “On the field too long. There’s a lot of things we need to fix on defense. Took the ball away twice, gave ourselves a chance. Got to continue to work on our pass rush. Was it good enough? No, it wasn’t good enough. I want to make sure I evaluate all three phases before I talk in-depth. We’ve got to be accountable, can’t make excuses starting with me.”
### Walter Tucker was among several players sealed off on Lamb’s 97-yard kickoff return and Nantambu Fentress missed a tackle. “We had too many guys get stuck on blocks," Golden said of that play. "We didn’t have enough guys go on the top of their man and recover their lane.”
### Another special teams mistake: An unecessary Juwon Young hold that negated a long gain by Coley on a punt return.
### Yes, some people are getting impatient. (You don’t say?) Former Cane Allen Bailey tweeted: “Man, it has to be some major changes done.” And ESPN’s Jesse Palmer said: “The excuses are over. There’s a lot of talent on this team.”
### Armbrister: “We were prepared. We invested a lot. Just didn’t execute. They got momentum and they just rolled with it.”
### UM's final reception numbers: Herb Waters 6 for 61; Phillip Dorsett 1 for 39; Clive Walford 3 for 38; Gus Edwards 1 for 19; Coley 3 for 9; Duke Johnson 1 for 5; Yearby 1 for 4; Braxton Berrios 1 for -1.
### Please see the last post for Dolphins notes from Monday... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz