Now that you’ve heard my vent about the hospitality (or lack thereof) that the University of Miami received in the Emerald Bowl, it’s time for another recap: the game itself. This middle episode of my 3-post series of Emerald Bowl recaps will discuss the game itself, my thoughts about the team and some players, and my thoughts about the future of ‘Canes football. Let’s get started, shall we?
The game started slow for the ‘Canes, and extremely fast for Cal halfback Jahvid Best, who put two touchdowns on the board for the Golden Bears in the first quarter with runs of 1 and 42 yards. Miami struggled to produce much of anything on offense, going 3-and-out in their first four drives. Finally, in a drive that toook up the last two minutes of the first quarter and the first two minutes of the second, true-freshman quarterback Jacory Harris engineered an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Laron Byrd. At halftime, Cal led 14-7, although the ‘Canes were lucky to still be within one score.
Harris, who with the exception of the TD drive struggled in the first half, came to life after halftime. After 3-and-outs from both teams began the half, Harris drove the ‘Canes downfield again and tied the game up with a 7-yard pass to Thearon Collier. Best, though, wasn’t to be denied, as he came back for Cal and had a few big runs to drive the Golden Bears inside the Miami 5 yard line. The UM defense held, though, producing a goal-line stand that forced Cal into a field goal, making the score 17-14.
The ‘Canes and Harris put together another solid drive, making it into the Cal red zone with a chance to take the lead if they could get into the end zone. The California defense stepped up, though, just as Miami did, and forced the ‘Canes into a game-tying FG. The game got interesting when Cal drove down the field on the legs of Shane Vereen, setting up a 34-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Bears the lead. The field goal was wide, though, and the ‘Canes took over with a chance to drive down the field and take the lead. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t meant to be, as on the third play of the drive, linebacker Zach Follett made his way into the backfield, sacking Harris and forcing a fumble that set up a Nate Longshore TD pass for Cal, making the score 24-17.
This is where my griping begins. The ‘Canes took posession with 2:41 on the clock and one time-out, which is ample time to drive for a touchdown. Instead, in the two-and-a-half minutes that ensued, Miami put on about the worst display of clock-management I have ever seen, and ended up wasting roughly :45 seconds of game time getting to the line of scrimmage, only to have Harris throw and incomplete pass, and then for the ‘Canes to burn their final timeout, once the clcok was stopped. They gained barely half the hards they needed to make it to the end zone, and flew home with a 24-17 loss.
With the exception of the clock management, though, I was not as disappointed with the game as most were. I thought Harris looked good, and as the game continued his passes became more precise and he didn’t seem as timid. The defense did the best they could to combat the explosive running of Jahvid Best, and if it weren’t for the awful playcalling by (now former) offensive coordinator Patrick Nix, the ‘Canes could have won this game. I’m looking forward to the future, though, as Harris will now have the starting job with redshirt freshman Robert Marve‘s impending departure. With both offensive and defensive coordinators gone, coach Randy Shannon looks to be committed to turning this program back into one of the elite college football programs in the country. I look forward to seeing what he can do with it!