This weekend, the Miami Hurricanes carried themselves excitedly into “The Swamp” on the Gainesville campus of the University of Florida for the first football meeting between the two teams since the Peach Bowl in 2004. The ‘Canes were a 20+ point underog in the game, but that didn’t stop over 10,000 UM fans from making the trek to come support their team as they tried to topple the number five team in the nation.
The Florida Gators ended up winning the game by a margin of 26-3, but the score does not tell the story of the game. The ‘Canes held the explosive Gator offense to just 9 points in the first three quarters, only failing to keep the pace in the final period. The UM defense showed fans a lot of different sides, including a solid defensive line that pressured Gator QB and 2007 Heisman Winner Tim Tebow all night. The secondary, on the other hand, struggled, allowing Tebow to throw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in a 21/35 effort. The linebackers were sometimes where they needed to be, and other times fans were left wondering if they were even on the field.
The Hurricane offense was the most cause for concern. Starting QB, red shirt freshman Robert Marve, threw 10/18, for 69 yards and no scores. He was sacked three times. The offensive line struggled much of the night, failing to give Marve the time he needed to make the right decisions, as well as struggling all night to create running room for halfbacks Derron Thomas and Greg Cooper, who combined for just 53 yards. Starting HB Javarris James ran for 4 yards in two attempts before leaving the game with an ankle sprain. The ‘Canes managed only an average of 1.6 yards per rush.
The final frustration of the night came from sources outside the players, namely the playcalling and the refereeing. There were a few very questionable calls made by the SEC referees, including a Tebow pass to the 5-yard line that was ruled incomplete on the field and then overturned upon review (with not enough evidence, according to ESPN). The drive ended in UF’s second touchdown–the beginning of the end. The playcalling from Miami’s Offesnvie Coordinator Patrick Nix did not send the ‘Canes out with an aggressive gameplan, which, in my opinion, was something he needed to do. Ninety percent of the plays that UM ran on first down were rushes straight up the middle, and Marve only had the chance to take one shot down field all game.
The team played very well, though overall. The defense held Tebow and the Gators for three-plus quarters, and despite the offense’s inability to get in the end zone, they had very good ball movement at times. They did a great job to hang with such an explosive team, and despite the score seeming lopsided, the ‘Canes came into Gainesville this weekend and showed the Gator Nation that they shouldn’t underestimate the University of Miami. If the Hurricanes play the rest of the season with the intensity and drive that they had this weekend, they definitely will contend for the ACC title.
On another note, the rest of the trip that I took with the “Band of the Hour” to play at this game was lots of fun, including spending all my per diem at a fancy seafood restaurant and many hours on a bus. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season; it should be a good one!