September 21, 2007

'Canes throttle Aggies 34-17

MIAMI - A couple of late scores couldn't pull Dennis Franchione's Texas A&M Aggies out of the hole they dug themselves in the first half, falling to a resurgent Miami Hurricanes 34-17.

An offensive explosion, uncharacteristic of the 'Canes (3-1), helped them control the game, as A&M (3-1) never really got out of the gate, falling behind 24-0 at the half.

"That was a big victory for us," said Miami Head Coach Randy Shannon. "It was an opportunity to bounce back from earlier this season and play a good opponent in Texas A&M."

The Aggies, known as an offensive team, were outgained 402-240 in total yards, and most of that came late in the second half. A&M had only 38 yards of offense at the half.

"Kyle did a good job giving us the best opportunity to win, but it was a team effort," Shannon said.

The lack of performance by the Aggies was exacerbated by the sparkling performance of Miami's offense, that 420 yard output falling just short of the season high, 429 against Florida International.

Ultimately, the stats tell the story, the story of a game that many thought to be a blowout, but not in the way it wound up going. Miami gets the signature win they've been waiting two years for, and Texas A&M gets more questions about exactly what kind of program they are.

"We just got beat," said Franchione. "Got beat by a better team."

PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Kyle Wright - It'll be a new feeling for Wright, receiving accolades rather than criticism. But going 21-of-26 for 275 yards and two touchdowns will usually lead to a victory. His passes were sharp, and while some of his deep balls were underthrown, they connected, and it led the team to victory. Normally I would be harsh on the fumble caused by Wright's careless ballhandling, but the guy had a pretty good day, so I'll lay off...this time.

PLAY OF THE GAME:
The fumbled kickoff return by Cody Wallace near the end of the first half. A squib kick by Miami, just trying to kill the clock, the offensive lineman returned the kick, and promptly coughed it up. While it only led to a Francesco Zampogna field goal, it was totally representative of A&M's ineptitude.

NEXT UP:

Miami (3-1) gets nine days off before hosting Duke (1-2), who just won their first game in over two years last weekend over Northwestern. Likely not heavy lifting, their first conference win if everything goes as planned.

Texas A&M (3-1) will welcome Baylor (2-1) to Kyle Field next Saturday, looking to improve their record and start their conference schedule on the right foot.

September 20, 2007

Off to the field...

MIAMI - I'm heading downstairs to gather quotes for the final recap, so stick around...I'll be right back!

Shameful playcalling by Franchione

MIAMI - Texas A&M is on the board, the score now 31-3. Yeah, they kicked a field goal down 31-0. How could Dennis Franchione make that play call? In the words of Herm Edwards, you play to win the game.

That move makes no one happy. 'Canes fans are upset because they wanted the shutout. Aggie fans are upset because their coach wussed out and cut the lead from 31 to 28. Franchione isn't doing anything to cool his seat off; in fact, he's just throwing gasoline on the fire.

Heading for the exits...

MIAMI - The rout has been on for a while now, but that last touchdown pass from Kyle Wright to Chris Zellner sealed it for a lot of A&M fans. That section of the stadium, opposite the student section, has emptied very quickly in the last five minutes.

They might have left for A&M's lone highlight; Aggies inside the five.

An interesting sight

MIAMI - I must admit that I took a short trip away from my computer just now, venturing down into the sea of humanity that is the student section.

I've been down there in that crowd before. I've cheered and stomped my feet as loud as anyone. But I must say that the section is crazier than I've ever seen it. It's like Mardi Gras down there. The fans are finally being rewarded with entertaining play.

Trust me, you can't begin to pick up the energy that is being admitted from that corner of the stadium. I thought I knew what it would be like; I had no Idea.

One wheel falls off...Two wheels fall off

MIAMI - The only accurate description for the mood at the Orange Bowl tonight is shock and elation. No one can remember when Miami has put up such a dominating performance. A shut-out of a great offense throughout the first half, a great aerial attack for the 'Canes, and turnover after turnover after turnover. Certainly not what I expected when I walked into the OB tonight.

All you need to know about this game:

TOTAL YARDS: Miami 190-Texas A&M 39

It's pretty clear-cut what both teams have to do for the second half. For A&M, they just have to stop screwing up. No more fumbles; it's not raining here yet. Try to get something going through the air. Stop Miami's offense.

For the 'Canes, just look at the first-half tape, and do that again. Save it, and watch it next week. And every week for the rest of the season. This is the kind of team Miami fans have been waiting for since a crushing loss at home against Georgia Tech in 2005. They look impeccable.

A passing game? What's that?

MIAMI - A three-yard run by Javarris James capped another impressive drive for the Hurricanes, with Kyle Wright going downfield, hitting Sam Shields for a 53-yard completion.

Miami has looked more solid tonight than they have all seasn, including games against Marshall and Florida International. Still plenty of time for both teams, but A&M will want to make something happen on this drive, and stop stalling on the UM 40-yard line. Field goals are awfully long from that point.

UPDATE 8:50

...and they make something happen by thorwing in interception to Colin McCarthy. Not the right direction, fellas.

Miami draws first blood

MIAMI - An 18 play, 80 yards, 8:51 drive, capped off by a 7-yard direct snap run to Graig Cooper. The concensus in the press box? The best drive the 'Canes have had in years. That was a drive highlighted by big plays made by Kyle Wright. The run was pretty well wrapped up by A&M, Wright just made the plays when they were needed.

Questionable attendance

MIAMI - It's a little bit odd, the stadium is a lot more empty at this point (less than 10 minutes before kickoff), than I would have expected. It is important to remember that this is Miami, and people tend to run a little late, but even the A&M section is filled with odd holes.

The student section is also a little empty too, which is even more odd, because there's been more buzz for this game since the FSU game last year. I was expecting the section to fill very quickly, and while it's still jammed, some of the less choice seats are still available. Lets just assume for now everyone's still tailgating outside.

Just annonced, Martellus Bennet will be swinging over to the other side of the line when he lines up at tight end tonight. Not earth-shattering news.

Weather report for tonight's kickoff:
86 degrees
Partly Cloudy
52 percent relative humidity
Winds South 9 mph

The OB's the place to be

MIAMI - Greetings and salutatins football fans! It's good to have you here on Run and Shoot, as we're about to share one of the most unique experiences in college football; a night game at the Orange Bowl, as the Hurricanes welcome the Aggies of Texas A&M.

While the stadium and the team have seen better days, there's nothing quite like night games here. With the lovely skyline behind the east endzone, and a light breeze swirling in from that side, games here at night just always seem to have a little extra pizzazz. That's definitely something this team will miss with the move to Dolphin Stadium next year. The sunset over the Everglades is gorgeous, the humidity has given way, and it's exactly what Miami football should feel like.

But, the stadium doesn't play a snap for either team, so I'll stop blabbering about it and get to the breakdown. Shall we?

This is a match-up of two very similar teams. Teams who have the talent, but have always been tabbed as underperformers over the years. Some say A&M Head Coach Dennis Franchione's seat may be warming, as the Aggies are perrenially good, but not great. A prime-time non-conference win would go a long way in soothing the fan base.

For the 'Canes, it's a very odd time. Head Coach Randy Shannon will be at the helm for his fourth game tonight, hoping to keep Miami away from another 2-2 start. Shannon's position is completely opposite from Franchione's; new job, lowered expectations, and promise for the future. Fans are waiting for the big, "we're back," kind of win, a la UCLA in 1998.

Will it come tonight? Not if A&M's backfield has anything to do with it. The dynamic duo of Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane have returned this year, and the dual threat of Stephen McGee's arm and legs will prove tricky for a Miami defense looking to recapture their magic.

Miami not without a thunder and lightning combination of its own, with sophomore Javarris James and freshman Graig Cooper bring electricity to the running game not seen at Miami since Frank Gore left for the pros. Ever since Cooper's first game against Marshall, where he ran for more than 100 yards, he's been the talk of the town.

The QB situation is Miami's prevailing weakness, as Kyle Wright will take the snaps, returning to his starting position after losing his job to junior Kirby Freeman coming out of camp. Freeman's completion percentage was near 40 percent during his time, and Wright quickly took his spot back. His performance has been marginally better, highlighted by an 80-yard pass play to Lance Leggett last week against FIU, adding some sparkle to an otherwise lackluster performance.

Despite being the favorite, Miami faces an uphill battle (they got three points from Vegas for playing at home; it's a pick-'em). If they want to win, they have to lock down in the secondary, rush using the tandem, and make some kind of magic through the air. If they don't, the Aggies will head back to College Station with a very valuable W.

Stay tuned for more updates and observations as they develop. Welcome to the OB, baby!

 

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