A few folks screamed ‘upset alert’ but in the end, it was a massacre in Manhattan. Kansas State methodically dismantled Miami on Saturday afternoon to the tune of, 52-13. The Wildcats pounced on the Canes early, from every direction and never let up. UM had a few early chances to stop the bleeding, didn’t, and things continued to unravel.
Just like last year, it was more Collin Klein and John Hubert, doing what they do so well. Klein was a meticulous 9-of-11 through the air, for 210 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, while rushing twenty-two times for 71 yards and three scores.
Hubert was also effective, with nineteen carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Bill Synder was again masterful with his game planning. Where Miami always fancies itself a program built on speed, attitude and swag, Kansas State is methodical, effective and rooted in fundamentals.
Klein and Hubert use their legs to wear down defenses and just when everyone thinks yet another run is coming, instead a well-timed, perfectly-executed pass. No Wildcats receiver had more than three receptions in the romp over the Canes, but anytime Klein went to Tyler Lockett or Tramaine Thompson, both parties made it count.
Kansas State opened with a thirteen-play, 65-yard drive. The Wildcats took almost seven minutes off the clock, wearing down the Canes’ defense. Klein and Hubert did most of the heavy lifting on the drive.
On a 2nd-and-9, Klein found Thompson for a seventeen-yard pick-up and a few plays later, on 2nd-and-7, Klein did it with his feet, rushing for sixteen and setting up a 1st-and-Goal from the seven. Klein wound up punching it in from a yard out on 3rd-and-Goal.
Miami looked ready to respond on it’s opening possession. After two plays went nowhere – a quick Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett pass and Mike James run – Morris then found wideout Allen Hurns for ten yard on 3rd-and-9.
On the ensuing first down, James lost a yard and on second, Morris went back to Hurns for a twenty-two yard gain, though the excitement was short-lived. Hurns went down hard, was taken to the sidelines and treated for concussion symptoms. He never returned.
James took back-to-back and facing a 3rd-and-1, Eduardo Clements entered, barreled for the first down, fumbled and it was quickly picked up by former UM linebacker Arthur Brown. Kansas State took over on its own forty-two and Miami’s drive was over.
Thompson rushed for six, Klein rushed for zero and on 3rd-and-4, back to the air as Klein hit Thompson for a thirty-yard gain. Lockett picked up sixteen on a run a play later and Klein ran it in from six yards out on 1st-and-Goal. Just like that, another 14-0 hole for the Canes.
Miami went back to Duke Johnson on the next possession, as well as different wideouts with Hurns sidelined. Morris found Rashawn Scott for six and on 3rd-and-1, a quick pass to tight end Clive Walford went for fifty-six yards, before he was run down at the KSU ten.
Johnson ran for one, Morris took a six-yard sack and on 3rd-and-Goal from the fifteen, Morris’ attempt to Scott was tipped, with Miami settling for three.
The loss of Hurns, the Clements fumble, Walford getting run down and the Morris sack were the difference between 14-3 and possibly a 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter, much like the comeback at Boston College the previous week.
In a game where Miami needed to go toe-to-toe in effort for a shootout-style win, the Canes left points on the field and self-imploded. After Kansas State answered with a field goal of their own, bringing it to 17-3, another UM drive stalled.
Morris attempted a pass to Johnson that went off the freshman’s fingertips. Had he reeled it in, a good chance the freshman would’ve gone eighty yards for the score. In a flash he was past half the defense, but Johnson simply couldn’t haul in Morris’ quick strike. Another missed opportunity.
From there a two-yard loss on a Johnson rush, a nine-yard personal foul on Brandon Linder and on 3rd-and-21, a four-yard sack on Morris, setting up a 4th-and-25 punt from the five, giving Kansas State the ball at the Miami thirty-eight.
A quick pass for four, a few runs and on 2nd-and-12, Klein found Curry Sexton for the twenty-seven yard touchdown – his lone grab of the day.
24-3, Wildcats when Morris-to-Johnson could’ve pulled it to, 17-10.
Miami got one last shot in the first half – a methodical drive that went seventy yards, but again wound up in a field goal, despite big passes and pick-ups by Scott and Dorsett, as time was running out and points were needed.
And so the rest of the afternoon seemingly went for the Canes. Miami continuously found ways to self-implode while Kansas State would grind and grind, setting up the big play en route to more points.
Saturday’s showdown in Manhattan was a reality check for Miami fans who simply wanted to believe that talented youth could find a way to overcome. That proved the case in Chestnut Hill as Johnson stole the show and other true freshmen made an impact.
Talented true freshmen will shine, but there remains a downside; at times they are going to play like the rookies they are.
Kansas State’s success is no accident. Look up and down that depth chart and it’s upperclassman-heavy. Klein is a senior. Hubert a junior. Thompson a junior. Harper a senior. Same with the defense, where the entire front seven are all seniors, with the exception of one lone junior. The second is also three seniors and a junior.
Two seasons ago, the Wildcats were a 7-6 squad and the year before that, 6-6. Klein was on the bench those two seasons and didn’t start until his junior campaign in 2011, where he led Kansas State to a 10-3 season, all three losses coming against top ten teams – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
This upperclassman-heavy bunch will be challenged this year as well, traveling to Oklahoma and West Virginia over the next few weeks before taking on Texas Christian, Baylor and Texas in the final weeks of the season – and a safe bet this Kansas State squad will reach a solid bowl – possibly the BCS – and that Klein will be a Heisman finalist.
You look at a top-heavy team like Kansas State and you hope that’s where Miami is two years from now, barring the talent is coached up, the recruits keep coming in and that Al Golden irons things out as head coach of this program.
Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio is taking a beating two weeks into the season and it’s hard to argue against a frustrated fan base yet to see any stoppage after two games. Miami gave up 32 points and 537 total yards to Boston College, in the opener, while surrendering 52 points and 498 yards at Kansas State.
Eight quarters. 84 total points. 1,035 total yards.
D’Onofrio, Golden and a handful of players continue beating the drum regarding assignment football and too many guys out of position. Hard for the average armchair quarterback to truly assess this, but in breaking down the Miami depth chart – especially defensively – some of the holes are blatantly obvious.
Starting up front, the Canes’ defensive line has gotten zero pressure on the quarterback all season and outside of sophomore Anthony Chickillo, where are the big time players on that line?
Outside of Chick, Miami started senior Darius Smith, sophomore Olsen Pierre and r-junior Shayon Green. Back-ups include freshman Jelani Hamilton, freshman Earl Moore, sophomore Jalen Grimble, r-freshman Corey King, sophomore Kelvin Cain and freshman Tyriq McCord.
The Canes are so depth-challenged on the line that the return of r-juniors Luther Robinson and Curtis Porter are so anxiously awaited, they’re being treated as the second-coming of Vince Wilfork and Jerome Brown.
Denzel Perryman is the man in the middle at linebacker, but those on each side or behind him are yet to live up or make their name. Eddie Johnson is a r-freshman who started at outside last weekend and made some plays as he continues to learn, while r-senior Ramon Buchanan was on the other side, but has since been lost for the season.
Miami is now relying on the likes of junior Jimmy Gaines, junior Tyrone Cornelius, sophomore Gionni Paul, sophomore Thurston Armbrister and freshman Gabe Terry.
The second might be even weaker as it’s a mishmash of newbies or a few upperclassmen who never saw much starting time, for one reason or another.
Thomas Finnie is a sophomore, but currently looks like Miami’s most complete corner – which isn’t saying much for senior Brandon McGee. Ladarius Gunter is JUCO transfer year one in the new system, while true freshman Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford have been thrown into the fire early, due to a lack of depth.
At safety, true freshman Deon Bush is taking away playing time from junior Kacy Rodgers II, while senior Vaughn Telemaque has made a few mistakes and will now miss Bethune-Cookman due to injury, meaning more playing time for r-junior A.J. Highsmith and freshman Rayshawn Jenkins.
Highsmith is a converted quarterback and Gunter played last season at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, yet it being heavily-relied on. Again, this is a secondary that started Mike Williams last year, a Wake Forest transfer who wasn’t even first-team with the Demon Deacons.
A far cry from the 2001 season when three defensive backs were taken in the first round the following spring.
This isn’t an upperclassman-heavy defense with a few talented young bucks plugged in here or there. This is a defense whose two biggest players are phenom sophomores that started as freshmen – and maybe by the time a Chickillo and Perryman reach year four, this defense will be stocked up and possessing the necessary talent to get it week in and week out, but until then, it’s a make-the-most-of-what-you-got type situation.
Golden continues backing D’Onofrio, his defensive coordinator at Temple prior to their run at Miami, and both his teammate and co-captain when players at Penn State. Their friendship and bond is obvious, but the fact remains that something has to give. If guys continue ‘freelancing’ or not playing assignment football, how does D’Onofrio reel this in? If they’re not understanding simple schemes, how do you drill it home so that they do?
When you look at the rest of Miami’s schedule, there are some teams that will put up some yards and some points on these Canes. Georgia Tech. Notre Dame. Florida State. Virginia Tech. It could make for a very long season. Especially weeks like this last one where the offense sputtered.
Miami brought a game-plan into Boston College and it worked. The no-huddle, hurry-up offense was effective. A defense burned early by the slant underneath figured out what was going wrong and changed the course of the game with a Perryman pick-six. The defense also created turnovers game one, whereas they couldn’t get a stop on Kansas State. (The Wildcats first and only punt came with under a minute remaining in the game.)
Ten one-game seasons remain and Bethune-Cookman, sadly, can’t be taken lightly. The Wildcats actually held a 7-0 lead on the Canes going into the second quarter last year, though Miami outscored them 45-7 the rest of the way.
From there, a road trip to Georgia Tech and a triple-option offense that should already be giving D’Onofrio and his defensive players nightmares.
One more time, for the record; this is going to be a very long season. Fans are tired of ‘youth’ as an excuse, but of eighty-one scholarship players, thirty-five are freshman – which accounts for 43-percent of this year’s team.
Miami only has eleven seniors, a class that took a hit when Tommy Streeter, Olivier Vernon, Brandon Washington and Marcus Forston all left early. Running back Lamar Miller also left, but would’ve only been a junior.
There’s a long-time Hurricanes mindset regarding ‘reloading’ instead of ‘rebuilding’, but truth be told – that hasn’t been the case in over a decade and for a program hovering in ‘rebuild’ mode, the losses of Streeter, Vernon, Washington, Forston and Miller are that much harder to absorb.
There were also the four defenders Golden booted months into his Miami tenure – linebackers Travis Williams and Kevin Nelson, and defensive backs Jamal Reid and Devont’a Davis – all four of which would’ve provided some depth and experience this season as upperclassmen.
This is going to be a slow climb back, U Family. No other way to put it. This 52-13 loss was the most points put up on a Hurricanes team since 1998 when Syracuse beat Miami, 66-13 in the unofficial Big East Championship game.
The Orangemen went 8-4 that season and were no true powerhouse, but with Donovan McNabb, completely dominated the Hurricanes in the Carrier Dome.
Miami bounced back from the loss with a 49-45 upset of No. 2 UCLA the following week and finished the season 9-3, including a 46-23 win over NC State in the Micron PC Bowl.
This marked the fourth year in the Butch Davis era and that young squad boasted names like Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Bubba Franks, Santana Moss, Dan Morgan and Ed Reed - the majority of which were still newbies in 1998.
Miami went 9-4 the following season, grew up a little and from there went 11-1, 12-0, 12-1 and 11-2.
It should also be noted that after giving up a combined 134 points to the Orangemen, Bruins and Wolfpack, Davis fired fourth-year defensive coordinator Bill Miller and hired Greg Schiano to run the Canes’ D the next two years, before Rutgers came calling.
It’s a process, Hurricane Nation. Hard as that is to swallow, it’s the truth. A decade’s worth of poor coaching and leadership isn’t cleaned up overnight and while quality kids are being brought on board, it’s simply going to take a few more classes like this to put Miami on a true path to success.
Still, that doesn’t mean the path has to be littered with 39-point losses and poor defensive showings where quarterbacks stockpile footage for their Heisman reels, leading their offenses to 500-yard outings.
After two weeks Miami ranks 114th in total defense, 109th in scoring defense and 89th in rushing defense; they type of numbers that better give this coaching staff nightmares between now and when they find a way to finally stop the bleeding. – CB