A collection of random and not-so-random thoughts regarding Miami's 2010 debut:
-First off, let's call Thursday's game what it was: A sparring match. The FAMU band would have put up more of a fight.
-If Miami can go to Columbus and run their hurry-up spread even three-quarters as effectively against Ohio State as they ran it against FAMU, look out. If this were boxing, the Buckeyes now have to at least respect the Hurricanes' right hook, because UM proved tonight it's got some sting, Granted, Jacory Harris is going to have about half the time against OSU to make his reads and a lot of those reads were of the three-step-single-receiver persuasion, but they had a clear game plan and an identity from the word go. And it worked. Boy howdy, did it work. Best way to deal with a shaky o-line? Don't have the ball long enough to get hit.
-Miami played as well on defense as they needed to, sacks aside. They still seemed to have a tendency to fall sucker to counter plays in overpursuit. No doubt Rattlers HC Joe Taylor (a good coach with not enough ammunition in Junior Varsity Tallahassee) saw that on film and tried to exploit it. The big problem is that everything that FAMU did on offense that worked, OSU does all of it better with better personnel.
-Memo to ESPN's Dave Weekley: When a field goal doinks off the crossbar, don't say "It had the distance". If it hit the crossbar, it did not have the distance. Otherwise it wouldn't have hit the crossbar. Better living through physics. Then again, this was for ESPN 3, so it shouldn't stun me that the R-Team of announcers was in Miami to cover this. Also, he said "It's all about The U" more times than Uncle Luke said it in the song. Difference is I don't think Weeklely was at Club Rolexx in Luke's office (and by "office", I mean "tip rail") after the game. No, Billy Corben briefly in the booth to plug "The U" on DVD, where are you going? There's cake!
-Thank you, Leonard Hankerson, for making me look like a genius when I called him an offensive lynchpin last week. In a half, Hankerson had 6 catches, 115 yards and 2 TDs. Then again, FAMU's secondary also deserves credit for making me look good by barely covering him. But I'll take all the help I can.
-Miami's running game attempts were OK at best. If they can't push FAMU of the ball, it doesn't bode well that they can carry Ohio State, or even anyone in the ACC, off the line. Expect a lot more off-tackle running plays as the season goes on. Especially from Lamar Miller, who I knew had wings, but I didn't realize he had a jet-pack to go with it. The running backs catching passes in the flat just might BE the best version of Miami's running game. Which is weird to say for a team that's so flush in RB talent.
-Sidenote: Watching the "Training Days With Alabama" piece reminded me of a something Don Shula said just after Saban left the Dolphins to take the head job in Tuscaloosa: "The guy likes to hear himself talk." Granted, Shula was bitter at the time and I still might be bitter now, but titles or not, everything out of Saban's mouth sounds like it comes from The Great Big Book Of Generic Coachspeak. It's OK, Alabama; one day it will be you. Nick Saban is like Tiger Woods if you replaced "Porn stars and Perkins waitresses" with "head coaching jobs".
-Speaking of sidenotes and ex-Dolphin coaches, there was Pitt with a win over Utah on the road in hand, only to blow it in true Wannstedtian fashion. First, the game-winning TD gets called back via penalty, then the first play in overtime results in a Pitt INT and then Utah runs 48 draw plays in a row in order to win, accompanied by 394 camera shots of the Pitt student body watching the game. There they were in one place, a generation lost in space. Which can happen to any group forced to watch a Dave Wannstedt-coached team.
-After throwing a pick in his first series, A.J. Highsmith got a quicker hook than Matt Leinart got with the Arizona Cardinals, though he did get a second chance. Not that No. 3 QB Spencer Whipple was given a ton to do or was any great shakes. The backup quarterbacks only emphasized the point that if Harris goes down, the season goes with him.
-Graig Cooper sighting happened in the 3rd quarter when it's 42-0. Clearly he had post-injury syndrome, which is both to be expecting and not encouraging. Seantrel Henderson came in for mop-up duty in the second half after spending the first half using his back for the end zone LCD screen. Storm Johnson didn't dress, though, which means he can still be redshirted. But really, he can just as soon not play this year and let ESPN tell Bill Brasky-esque folk tales about him and it won't do anything but help his rep.
In summation: Florida A&M, to paraphrase Dennis Green, were who Miami thought they were: A good work-out-the-kinks opponent. Winning against the Rattlers in a rout wasn't going to make anyone serve notice to any higher aspirations: that's a job for next week. But they did serve notice that win or lose this could be a fun team to watch in 2010, and it's been a long time since I've been able to say that about any Hurricanes team. Call me encouraged but wary of an actual challenge.