Miami looked equally impressive in their second game of the season as in the first, defeating Georgia Tech 33-17.
This game showed a lot about both of these teams. Here are my grades from my keys to the game.
Air Control for Nesbitt – D+
While it wasn’t the debacle he endured last week, Nesbitt only completed six of his 15 passes against the Hurricanes for 133 yards. He managed to keep the ball out of Miami’s hands by not throwing a single interception. The Yellow Jackets struggles on the ground forced Nesbitt’s arm to try and save them, and not surprisingly, he came up short.
Win the turnover battle – C
Neither of the teams turned the ball over Thursday night, which is surprising considering the athletic ability of both defenses. Josh Nesbitt had an interception nullified by a roughing the passer penalty. Tech running back Roddy Jones also coughed up the football, but it was called back after instant replay review showed he was down before losing the ball.
Net Punting/Kicking- D+
Jackets punter Chandler Anderson booted the ball well, averaging 45.7 yards on three punts, but Miami still managed to drive down Tech’s throats with ease. Miami punter Matt Bosher only punted once in the entire game. The Hurricanes proved that opposing teams are going to have to pin them deep in their own territory to contain quarterback Jacory Harris and company.
Keep up Harris’ air raid – A+
Do I hear a improvised Heisman Trophy campaign heating up? After ripping apart Florida State in the season opener for 386 yards, Harris completed 80 percent of his passes Thursday night, throwing for 270 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It looks like new offensive coordinator and play caller Mark Whipple and Harris are a match made in heaven. Miami’s young group of athletic receivers is also very talented, which is making Harris look like an emerging superstar.
Don’t get beat early – A+
After giving up an early field goal, the first half was a one-sided affair in favor of the Hurricanes. Harris threw two touchdowns, and Bosher added a field goal to take a 17-3 halftime lead. This set up the rest of the game perfectly for Miami, because Tech looked pressured to score and did not seem to be executing their offense comfortably. Like I said prior to the game, the triple option is not exactly the best offense for an epic rally, and that was the case again Thursday.
Jimmys and Joes, not x’s and o’s – A
I was concerned Miami might try to do too much schematically against Paul Johnson, but instead coach Whipple and Randy Shannon called one hell of a game. Harris looked comfortable on virtually every throw, and his intended receivers were almost always very open. Coming into the game, it was not clear whether Miami’s talent on paper was that much better than Georgia Tech’s, but it was yet to be seen if they could translate that talent into production on the field. They look dangerous again for sure, and they dominated the Jackets.
Miami looks to be regaining the swagger that was the calling card of its program for over a decade. The talent is there, although very young, but they are far exceeding expectations early on in 2009. The biggest test so far will be in the next two weeks, when the Hurricanes travel to Blacksburg to face the Virginia Tech Hokies, then return home to take on the Oklahoma Sooners, who should have their Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford back from injury.