ACC morning links: Canes' line struggles

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
8:00
AM ET
The big takeaways from Monday night’s game will no doubt revolve around the quarterbacks.

Making his first start for Louisville, Will Gardner looked pretty sharp. He completed 20-of-28 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, and if he could’ve done a better job of holding on to the football -- his two fumbles came deep in Louisville territory -- it would’ve been chalked up as a terrific debut.

On the other side, Brad Kaaya wasn’t quite so successful. He completed 17-of-29 passes for 174 yards, tossed one TD and two interceptions. Both of the picks came on particularly bad throws, all of which should've been expected for a true freshman making his first start in a hostile road environment.

But so much of what allowed Gardner to be so good and caused Kaaya to struggle had little to do with the quarterbacks.

Louisville’s Dominique Brown looked like a workhorse out of the backfield. He rushed 33 times -- three more carries than anyone else in the nation had in Week 1 -- for 143 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Miami’s ground game never really got going.

And that might be the real concern for Miami today. It’s not that Duke Johnson wasn’t good. He had 95 total yards, a few big runs and another long reception that was called back due to a silly penalty from an O-lineman who’d wandered too far downfield. Johnson was fine, but that O-line looked bad.

In addition to the flag that thwarted Johnson’s big catch, the line was flagged four other times for holding or false starts. On 12 of Miami’s 25 designed runs, the Hurricanes gained 1 yard or less. There was virtually no running room between the tackles all night. Kaaya was under pressure far more often than any true freshman should need to endure despite few looks downfield.

Gardner’s success came without his No. 1 receiver. The ground game was good without Michael Dyer. Louisville’s D looked exceptional in its first game in a new scheme. It was a good night for the Cardinals.

For Miami, the lessons were tougher, but it’s hard to pin too much of the blame on the freshman QB. Maybe Jake Heaps sees some snaps next week, maybe not. Maybe Ryan Williams comes back soon enough to make a difference, and maybe not. But no matter who is under center, Miami’s line needs to play better, open up running lanes and give the QB a chance to make plays. If not, it could be a long year for the Hurricanes' offense.

Now, a few links to kick off Week 2 ...

Clemson’s offense struggled in the second half against Georgia, but Chad Morris expects to get things jump started in Week 2, writes The State.

Deshaun Watson was calm, cool and collected after his Clemson debut, writes The Post and Courier.

No surprises here, but Marquise Williams is North Carolina’s starting QB for the foreseeable future, writes the Charlotte Observer.

Boston College is replacing Andre Williams with a committee approach in the backfield, writes the Boston Herald.

It was a perfect debut to the 2014 season for NC State’s Jarvis Byrd, writes the Raleigh News & Observer.

Virginia has some QB questions this week, as the Washington Times notes, and in a bit of perfect timing, the Hoos will get a visit from one of their former starters in Richmond QB Michael Rocco, writes the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Georgia Tech has a decision to make with freshman B-back C.J. Leggett, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And finally, the Orlando Sentinel highlights the triumphant return of Red Lightning.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.