Maryland and UnderArmour did do Miami a big favor Monday night. Thanks to their hideous unis, it had the Twitterworld riveted and talking about something other than the Nevin Shapiro scandal that has rocked the Canes program. Well, at least for an hour or two.
The Miami-Maryland game was one of the more entertaining games of WK 1. I was impressed by Terps QB Danny O'Brien who showed why he's one of the better young quarterbacks in college football. He did make a big mistake in the Red Zone early when he threw a pass, where it seemed he could've trotted into the end zone and ended up getting picked by safety Vaughn Telamaque. However, O'Brien responded by making many more sound decisions and several excellent throws albeit against a severely depleted Canes D. Former MD coach Ralph Friedgen did a really nice job with O'Brien, who goes through his progressions very well and unloads the ball quickly. He plays like a senior, not a sophomore.
As for Miami, there were many encouraging signs for a program dealing with some key suspensions and huge distractions. QB Stephen Morris played, for at least about 55 minutes of action, pretty well, showing newfound savvy. A few weeks back I visited with Canes new OC Jedd Fisch who talked about how much he liked Morris' "gunslinger" mindset. There is good and bad to that for the young, strong-armed soph. The bad in that showed up later in the game, but there is still a lot to build on there.
Lamar Miller was the best player on the field, and he will be a star at UM. He's not only ridiculously fast, but he's worked hard to develop as a runner. He told me in mid-August that he's become a more patient runner since he now realizes he doesn't feel like he has to turn every carry into a long TD run since he knows he's going to get plenty of carries. That added discipline, along with more attention to detail, courtesy of new RB coach Terry Richardson is another big plus. Two other offensive weapons for UM, who people inside the program have been raving about for two years, wideouts Allen Hurns and Tommy Streeter, finally stepped up in actual games.
Going forward, there are two big questions about Miami: How much of a boost does this team get now that many of their best defenders get back on the field, along with speedy WR Travis Benjamin and QB Jacory Harris? Do they have the stuff--not just the "talent"--to compete for an ACC title? We'll find that out in their next time out when Ohio State visits. They obviously need help, but when you consider they almost beat a solid Terps team despite missing four of their top five defenders, they are intriguing.
The other question, and this one is going to take much longer to get an answer for, is beyond these player suspensions, what exactly will the Shapiro Scandal translate to in the NCAA's eyes?
I agree with my colleague Brett McMurphy who says the "best thing for Miami is for the NCAA to finish its investigation as quickly as possible. Then, and only then, will the Hurricanes finally know what penalties await them and they can deal with them and move forward. Until then, there's no way they can combat the endless speculation: Death penalty? Postseason ban? Massive scholarship hits? TV ban? Vacate all their wins for an entire decade? They might get all of those sanctions or a combination, but the truth is no one really knows -- and that's the worst thing for Miami right now: dealing with the unknown and the perception."
Miami's been a unique football program for years, and while UM is certainly not alone in having a shady, overzealous booster, they might be in having a shady, overzealous VINDICTIVE booster. My hunch is it'll be months after signing day before the NCAA comes down with its' sanctions against the program. For as good as Golden is as a recruiter, good luck closing on prospects with that hanging over you. The games in 2011 will actually be the easiest part of this job.
*Miller is one of two RBs poised for a breakout season in 2011. The other is Va. Tech's David Wilson. The Hokie showed in Week One he's more than just a speed guy. According to Darryl Slater, Hokies coach Frank Beamer said Monday that Wilson was credited with 15 broken tackles during the staff's grading of the film.
"Coach Hite feels like that's a record around here," Beamer said, referring to Billy Hite, who was Tech's running backs coach from 1980 through 2010, before moving into an administrative role. In his debut as Tech's top tailback, Wilson had 16 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
*Some interesting fodder on the realignment discussion from Jon Wilner, who reports that the Pac-12 does not want to expand, but realizes it probably has to given the climate around college sports.
If Texas A&M becomes the SEC’s 13th team, that sets the superconferences in motion.
“The SEC won’t stop at 13, or even 14. And if the SEC is at 14 or 16, the Big Ten will do it,” a source said. ”At that point, (the Pac-12) would be crazy not to entertain the idea of expansion.”
(Multiple sources said the SEC’s 14th team would most likely be Missouri. Combine untapped TV dollars with geography, and the schools that make the most sense for the SEC are Texas A&M, Missouri and Virginia Tech.) Only if the SEC goes to 13 would the Pac-12 evaluate its options.It won’t take Oklahoma unless A&M leaves first, despite the accelerated timeline laid out last week by Oklahoma President David Boren. And yes, in all likelihood the Pac-12 would take Oklahoma and Oklahoma State even if Texas were off the table, multiple sources said.
*As Notre Dame gets ready for a trip to Michigan, Brian Kelly has a big decision on his hands about whether to keep Dayne Crist as his QB or go with Tommy Rees. It's clear Irish fans believe Rees, who has been connected with more wins, is their choice. Keith Arnold points out there is one big difference in the two QBs:
If you want an easy way for Crist to be more productive, simply throw the ball to Floyd more. He’s by far the Irish’s best offensive player, yet in breaking down the tape, there were multiple times when Crist simply didn’t look to Floyd, a baffling thought process that I put more on Crist than the coaching staff, especially after watching the first half almost a dozen times. If you’re looking for a reason to give the starting job to Tommy Rees, look at this damning stat line:
Michael Floyd with Crist: 2 catches, 37 yards
Michael Floyd with Tommy Rees: 10 catches, 117 yards, 2 touchdowns
*UGA LB Christian Robinson, who normally enjoys engaging on the social media platform, vowed to stay off Twitter this week after being barraged with unwelcomed messages from fans reacting to the loss to Boise, reports Tim Tucker:
"I got some pretty nasty stuff," Robinson said Monday night. "Right after the game, my phone was lighting up with just some nasty things. I've gotten some bad things before, but it was just a different level where I said I'm not going to deal with this right now."
He said some of the messages were from Boise State fans, but others were from UGA fans.
"Some of them, they got the ‘G' on their picture," he said. "I've seen some [of the same people] tweet me before, positive things. And the moment you don't do well, they can turn on you. You're never as good or as bad as you think you are."