The 2010 Hurricane football team is schizophrenic. They played with emotion and energy against North Carolina last week, even though every college football talking head expected the Canes to win because of all the Tar Heels player suspensions and expulsions due to NCAA violations. Nonetheless, they won convincingly and showed the college football world that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with and a potential ACC championship was on the horizon.
Cut to the Virginia game in Charlottesville on Halloween Eve. The visiting Hurricanes, a 2 touchdown favorite, met up with the reeling Cavaliers who had lost the previous 9 ACC conference games, in the hopes of impressing the pollsters and building up momentum for the rest of the year and getting a chance at the ACC chmpionship. What followed was as an embarassing a loss as could be imagined.
The Miami veteran offensive line again had problems with pass protection and opening up space to run through. This has been an ongoing problem for the last couple of seasons. Why isn't the offensive line getting any better, especially against inferior teams? The line failed to block a 260 lb. behemoth that planted QB Jacory Harris into the field dirt as he dropped back to pass. And, as has been the pattern, the pass was thrown into triple coverage and intercepted. Harris was knocked out of the game and, basically, the Canes could not recover after that. The second and fourth string UM quarterbacks combined for another four interceptions.
Even with all the turnovers and the Jacory's injury, the Canes were one score away from winning the game late in the fourth quarter. But, as has been the case this season, the defense could not stop the Cavaliers on two crucial 3rd down conversions to get ballback and go for the win.
After Jacory left with the undisclosed injury, I sort of felt a little guilty for feeling a little pleased that he might be out for an extended period of time and, thus, his replacement will be more efficient and lead the Canes to a successfull rest of the season. That was not to be. I could not believe what I saw. The Virginia Cavaliers out-rushed the Canes 185 to 179 total yards. I see a lot of the time that the players are not lined up right, jump off-sides and blow coverages. That smacks of bad coaching and bad preparation.
I like Coach Randy Shannon. He has cleaned up the program, increased player graduation, and epitomizes a no-nonsense disciplinarian attitude. I just don't see him motivating the team to play hard on every play. There is little to no emotion even as his players are repeating stupid mistakes over and over. I wish that just once he would grab Jacory Harris' by the facemask and tell him to stop making dumb mental mistakes, not to mention all the other players who have had a lackluster season.
So, late in the 4th quarter, as freshman quarterback Stephen Morris brought the Canes back by throwing a touchdown to Travis Benjamin after an onside kick, I said to myself, "nah, the comeback victory will come just a little short". And so they did.
Alas, another disappointing season. Jacory Harris has not gotten any better than when he played as a freshman. And neither has a lot of other players from his recruiting class. Travis Benjamin? Inconsistent, runs bad routes, and drops passes. Aldarius Johnson? Invisible.
I sure hope Shannon can inspire this team for the rest of the season. His job may depend on it.