ACC: Miami Hurricanes
That's exactly how Cherry phrased it to the audience. It happened, it was glorious, and it is on the Web for the world to see until the end of time.
Luckily, Cherry is still officiating ACC games and is still as charming as ever. Check out his moves as he was confirming a call amid boos at Thursday night's Miami-Virginia Tech game.
Who really deserves to claim the title of “Tight End U” for the 2000s?
1. Miami (84 points): While it has been relatively quiet since its positional heyday early in the 2000s, Miami still easily tops this list. With seven tight ends drafted, including first-round picks Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Greg Olsen, the Hurricanes far surpassed the next closest programs at the position. They don’t get extra points for this, but they also produced arguably the top tight end in the NFL today in 2010 third-round pick Jimmy Graham, who's now starring for the New Orleans Saints.
Award winners: Kellen Winslow, Mackey (2003).
Consensus All-Americans: Kellen Winslow (2003).
First-team all-conference: Jeremy Shockey (2000, 2001), Kellen Winslow (2002, 2003), Greg Olsen (2006).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jeremy Shockey (2002), Kellen Winslow (2004), Greg Olsen (2007).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Kevin Everett (Round 3, 2005), Jimmy Graham (Round 3, 2010).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Dedrick Epps (Round 7, 2010), Richard Gordon (Round 6, 2011).
2. Iowa (66 points): Dallas Clark leads the way thanks to a 2002 season after which he won the John Mackey Award and was a consensus All-American. But Iowa had a consistent run of tight ends in the 2000s, with first-round pick Clark and five others getting drafted -- most recently third-round pick C.J. Fiedorowicz, who was the fifth tight end selected this year.
Award winners: Dallas Clark, Mackey (2002).
Consensus All-Americans: Dallas Clark (2002).
First-team all-conference: Dallas Clark (2002), Brandon Myers (2008), Tony Moeaki (2009), C.J. Fiedorowicz (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Dallas Clark (2003).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Scott Chandler (Round 4, 2007), Tony Moeaki (Round 3, 2010), C.J. Fiedorowicz (Round 3, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Erik Jensen (Round 7, 2004), Brandon Myers (Round 6, 2009).
3. Missouri (64 points): Missouri hasn’t had as much success placing tight ends in the pros as some of the other top programs on this list, but the Tigers have an award winner (Chase Coffman won the 2008 Mackey Award) and three consensus All-American tight ends (Coffman, Martin Rucker and Michael Egnew) since 2000. Not too shabby.
Award winners: Chase Coffman, Mackey (2008).
Consensus All-Americans: Martin Rucker (2007), Chase Coffman (2008), Michael Egnew (2010).
First-team all-conference: Martin Rucker (2006), Michael Egnew (2010, 2011).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Martin Rucker (Round 4, 2008), Chase Coffman (Round 3, 2009), Michael Egnew (Round 3, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.
4. Wisconsin (64 points): One All-American (Lance Kendricks in 2010, when he led the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches), six first-team All-Big Ten picks (Kendricks, Garrett Graham twice, Mark Anelli, Travis Beckum and Jacob Pedersen) and six drafted players helped Wisconsin nearly earn the runner-up spot in the tight end rankings.
Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Lance Kendricks (2010).
First-team all-conference: Mark Anelli (2001), Travis Beckum (2007), Garrett Graham (2008, 2009), Lance Kendricks (2010), Jacob Pedersen (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Owen Daniels (Round 4, 2006), Travis Beckum (Round 3, 2009), Garrett Graham (Round 4, 2010), Lance Kendricks (Round 2, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Mark Anelli (Round 6, 2002), Jason Pociask (Round 5, 2006).
5. Georgia (62 points): It doesn’t have the national awards to show for it, but Georgia seems to boast an outstanding tight end nearly every season. The best example of that is how the Bulldogs keep placing tight ends in the pros – starting with Randy McMichael, Ben Watson and Leonard Pope and leading all the way up to Arthur Lynch, who just went to the Miami Dolphins in the most recent draft. The Bulldogs have built an impressive legacy at the position that looks to continue.
Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: None.
First-team all-conference: Randy McMichael (2001), Leonard Pope (2004, 2005), Martrez Milner (2006), Orson Charles (2011), Arthur Lynch (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Ben Watson (2004).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Randy McMichael (Round 4, 2002), Leonard Pope (Round 3, 2006), Martrez Milner (Round 4, 2007), Orson Charles (Round 4, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Arthur Lynch (Round 5, 2014).
6. BYU (56 points): Independents Notre Dame and BYU are hurt in these position rankings by not being members of a conference -- thus they couldn’t earn points for all-conference selections, although BYU did as a member of the Mountain West up through 2010. In fact, the Cougars earned 36 of their 56 points by having six tight ends named to the All-MWC team between 2001 and 2009. Notre Dame certainly belongs higher on the list, considering that it has had nine tight ends drafted, including first-round pick and 2012 Mackey Award winner Tyler Eifert.
Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Dennis Pitta (2009).
First-team all-conference: Doug Jolley (2001), Jonny Harline (2005, 2006), Dennis Pitta (2007, 2008, 2009).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Doug Jolley (Round 2, 2002), Dennis Pitta (Round 4, 2010).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Tevita Ofahengaue (Round 7, 2001), Spencer Nead (Round 7, 2003).
7. Virginia (54 points): Heath Miller is a one-man wrecking crew here, single-handedly accounting for 38 of Virginia’s 54 points thanks to a Mackey Award-winning season in 2004 when he was a consensus All-American and went on to become a first-round draft pick. Miller also won All-ACC honors in 2003.
Award winners: Heath Miller, Mackey (2004).
Consensus All-Americans: Heath Miller (2004).
First-team all-conference: Heath Miller (2003, 2004), John Phillips (2008).
NFL first-round draft picks: Heath Miller (2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Chris Luzar (Round 4, 2002).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Billy Baber (Round 5, 2001), Tom Santi (Round 6, 2008), John Phillips (Round 6, 2009).
8. Stanford (48 points): Stanford is arguably the top program for tight ends right now, but that’s a fairly recent development. Of the six Cardinal tight ends drafted since 2001, four have been since 2010, led by second-round picks Coby Fleener and 2012 All-American Zach Ertz. Stanford posted a rare double in 2013 when Ertz and Levine Toilolo were both picked in the draft’s first four rounds.
Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Zach Ertz (2012).
First-team all-conference: Alex Smith (2004), Coby Fleener (2011), Zach Ertz (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Teyo Johnson (Round 2, 2003), Alex Smith (Round 3, 2005), Coby Fleener (Round 2, 2012), Zach Ertz (Round 2, 2013), Levine Toilolo (Round 4, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Jim Dray (Round 7, 2010),
9. Colorado (46 points): Colorado hasn’t had much to brag about on the football field over the last several years, but the Buffaloes are still hanging on in the tight end rankings. Daniel Graham’s outstanding 2001 season (including a Mackey Award and a consensus All-America designation prior to becoming a first-round draft pick) is a big reason why Colorado makes the top 10.
Award winners: Daniel Graham, Mackey (2001).
Consensus All-Americans: Daniel Graham (2001).
First-team all-conference: Daniel Graham (2001), Joe Klopfenstein (2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: Daniel Graham (2002).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Joe Klopfenstein (Round 2, 2006).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Quinn Sypniewski (Round 5, 2006), Nick Kasa, Round 6, 2013).
10. UCLA (46 points): As with its fellow No. 9 on the list, Colorado, UCLA can thank a single player for its spot in the top 10. Marcedes Lewis accumulated 32 of the Bruins’ 46 points with a 2005 season when he won the Mackey Award, was a consensus All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 pick and then went on to become a 2006 first-round draft selection.
Award winners: Marcedes Lewis, Mackey (2005).
Consensus All-Americans: Marcedes Lewis (2005).
First-team all-conference: Mike Seidman (2002), Marcedes Lewis (2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: Marcedes Lewis (2006).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Mike Seidman (Round 3, 2003).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Jeff Grau (Round 7, 2002), Bryan Fletcher (Round 6, 2002).
REST OF “TIGHT END U” RANKINGS
44 – Notre Dame; 40 – Clemson; 38 – Arizona State, Florida, Louisville; 34 – Oregon, USC; 32 – Minnesota, North Carolina, Purdue, Rutgers; 28 – Tennessee; 26 – Oklahoma; 24 – N.C. State; 22 – Kentucky, Washington; 20 – Arkansas, Maryland; 18 – Penn State, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech; 16 – Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas; 14 – Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State; 12 – South Carolina; 10 – California, LSU, Michigan State, Oregon State; 8 – Boston College, Northwestern; 6 – TCU, Utah, Duke, Syracuse; 4 – Alabama, Kansas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech; 2 – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Mississippi State; 0 – Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington State, West Virginia
Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsMiami has needed 4th quarter comebacks in its last two wins to remain unbeaten.
No. 7 Miami (FL) enters its Week 10 matchups with No. 3 Florida State undefeated and looking to jump into the BCS National Championship conversation.
The Hurricanes needed two fourth-quarter comebacks in their last two games in order to remain undefeated. In both of those games, they had less than a 25 percent chance of winning at one point in the fourth quarter, according to ESPN’s win probability model.
Miami’s win against Wake Forest was its third win by seven or fewer points, which brings up the question, “Could Miami be this year’s Notre Dame?”
Last season, Notre Dame won five games by seven points or fewer en route to its 12-0 record entering the BCS National Championship.
The Fighting Irish had a difficult schedule, but also failed to dominate some of their lesser opponents. Notre Dame’s average margin of victory against its unranked FBS opponents was 18.6 points compared to 35.9 for Alabama last season.
Further, their average in-game win probability ranked ninth in the FBS entering the BCS National Championship, meaning that despite winning all of their games they were not dominant in those wins. In-game win probability measures the chance that a team has of winning across all of its plays.
Miami currently has the 18th-best average in-game win probability, but has faced only one ranked opponent. Adjusting for strength of schedule, Miami’s in-game win probability rank falls to 34th, according to ESPN’s win probability model.
Another potential similarity upcoming
Arguably, Notre Dame’s biggest win of last season came at No. 8 Oklahoma in its eighth game of the season. The Irish entered the game as double-digit underdogs, and, like Miami, they needed fourth-quarter comebacks in their previous two games against Stanford and BYU to remain undefeated.
Miami enters its eighth game of the season as more than a three-touchdown underdog at Florida State. The Hurricanes’ offense was slowed in its last two games, and it will face a Florida State defense that has held its last two ranked opponents to 14 combined points.
One of the keys to Notre Dame’s win against Oklahoma was its run game. The Irish gained 179 yards and all three of their touchdowns on designed runs. They were able to control the clock and keep Landry Jones off the field.
Look for Miami to employ a similar plan Saturday. In the fourth quarter of its past two games, Miami ran the ball on 76 percent of its plays and averaged 99.5 rush yards.
They scored all four of their fourth-quarter touchdowns on the ground in those two comebacks. If Florida State has a weakness, it is its run defense; the Seminoles lead the nation in pass defense, but rank 29th in rush defense.
Florida State has scored a touchdown on 52 percent of its drives, second best in the FBS. If Miami is able to keep them off the field, the Hurricanes might be able to continue their unbeaten season.
ON PAPER, Week 2 didn't exactly appear overrun with BCS-altering showdowns. But by the time the final whistle had blown in the Pacific time zone, there were indeed dashed postseason hopes scattered among the wreckage.
If Week 1 was the Saturday that the FCS-FBS line officially blurred, then Week 2 was the Saturday that the BCS storylines officially started to take shape. Let’s just call it Power Shift Saturday. And let’s start in South Florida.
The previous five times the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes played, the winner finished the season ranked in the top 5 in the AP poll. The programs have been on-again, off-again rivals, part of a longstanding, round-robin tourney (along with Florida State) to be the kings of the Sunshine State.
Sensing that this will be the final regular-season matchup between the two teams for the foreseeable future, the oft-maligned Sun Life Stadium crowd actually showed up. Officials even uncovered extra seats, a practice normally reserved for the Orange Bowl, not Hurricanes fans who don’t typically bother with the drive from Coral Gables.
With the heightened stakes, the blood was up early on both sidelines -- early as in before the game started. During warm-ups, the two teams started edging closer and the jawing became so intense that game officials had to give a polite warning. “There was so much smack talk, I can’t even describe it,” Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said after the game.
To open the game, the Gators' offense, led by Jeff Driskel, marched down the field on an eight-play drive, only to fumble in Miami territory. They marched again on a seven-play drive that bled into the second quarter, only to have Driskel throw a pick inside the Miami 5. And again they marched, only to have an 11-play drive stall after a failed fourth-and-1 at the Miami 16. Finally, a 12-play drive ended on a Trey Burton fumble in the red zone, with less than a minute to play in the half.
Still, the Gators' defense gave the offense a chance to win, eventually locking down what started as a runaway Hurricanes offense and limiting them to less than 2 yards per rush.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, Miami led 14-9, but Florida was driving (again), with a third-and-3 at the Canes’ 16-yard line. Driskel took the snap from the shotgun and immediately fell into the habit that plagued him all day: His eyes betrayed him.
As soon as he had the ball, he was looking right, where two wide receivers were running quick outs. With an onrushing Miami defender in his face, Driskel rocketed a pass toward the sideline and wideout Quinton Dunbar, who was at the Miami 7, just beginning his turn to the quarterback.
“This is where you see Driskel get himself into trouble as a one-level thinker,” an NFL scout told me on Sunday, watching film of the play on my laptop. “It’s a boom-boom play; he’s not supposed to take a lot of time, but damn, he never even considered another option. He already had his mind made up who the ball was going to, come hell or high water.”
The play had a designed safety valve, which was Burton, running toward the sideline at the 12. Instead, Driskel fired it past Burton to Dunbar, who was cut inside by cornerback Tracy Howard, who essentially iced the game with an interception. The Gators did get the ball back, but turned it over (again), this time on a Driskel fumble deep in their own territory. Florida’s final TD made the 21-16 result look closer than the game was.
“[Driskel] does this the whole game,” the scout said, taking my laptop and scrolling back to the second quarter, when Driskel appeared to be first-option only, gunning blindly into nearly quadruple-coverage for an INT. “That play was designed to the running back on the left. If he’s not there, then he’s got a clear out to run. But again, he’d decided where he was going with it before the play even started. You can’t be a real title contender like that. Did you see Tennessee against Western Kentucky? Ball hawks. That team might intercept this kid five times.”
If the Vols do so on Sept. 21 in Gainesville, Florida -- which dropped from No. 12 to No. 18 in the AP poll -- is nearly guaranteed an opening SEC loss. During the Will Muschamp era, the Gators are 19-9. In those 19 wins, they’ve committed 18 turnovers, good for a plus-20 turnover margin. In the nine loses, that margin falls to minus-21.
As for the power shift, The U scored its first win against a top-15 opponent since 2009 and easily its biggest since knocking off No. 3 Virginia Tech in 2005. The Canes, which went from unranked to No. 15 in the poll after the win, reinforced the ACC media’s preseason decision to vote them as the Coastal Division favorites. But more importantly, they reinforced the ACC itself. For the second straight week, the conference knocked off a highly ranked SEC foe. The coach who earned that first power-shifting win was quick to acknowledge the trend.
“How about that ACC?” Clemson’s Dabo Swinney said as he wrapped up his postgame news conference Saturday after trouncing South Carolina State. “Spunky little league.”
Then he threw up Miami’s trademark "U" hand gesture and walked off the stage.
Of course, he doesn’t have to face the Canes during the regular season, unlike Jimbo Fisher and Florida State, who do on Nov. 2.
- Georgia, the team that Swinney and Clemson beat Aug. 31, last week knocked off the team that the Tigers hope to beat on Nov. 30: Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina. The Dawgs’ 41-30 win over the then-No. 6 Gamecocks also indicated a significant power shift. UGA snapped a maddening three-game losing streak to its SEC East rival. Yes, Georgia still managed to make the SEC title game the past two years, but the South Carolina losses always dogged its potential BCS title game status. Should Aaron Murray and company return to Atlanta this season, they still will have the Clemson loss hanging over them. But if the Tigers win out (they will certainly be favored in all of their remaining games), then they could potentially meet the Dawgs again in Pasadena. Then again, South Carolina could ruin the party for both if it beats Clemson in Columbia, something it has done in four straight seasons.
- Michigan’s 41-30 victory over Notre Dame signified a bit of a power shift: The Wolverines managed to beat a ranked opponent, something they did only once in five tries last season. Meanwhile, the Irish, who were ranked No. 14 last week, failed their first test of 2013 after beating an all-star list of schools during their improbable unranked-to-BCS title game run of 2012. Last season, Michigan lost to South Carolina (No. 11), Ohio State (No. 4), Alabama (No. 2) and yes, Notre Dame (No. 11). Now both teams have done something they couldn’t a year ago -- one beat a ranked team, and the other lost a regular-season game.
- Speaking of power shifts ... was it really just eight years ago that Texas and USC played for the national title at the Rose Bowl? In case you need to be reminded, both suffered surprising upsets Saturday. And if you’re a member of either of those fan bases, safe to say you’re also upset. The Longhorns fired one-time wunderkind defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after just two games, a decision accelerated by BYU’s unthinkable 550-yard rushing performance. As for the Trojans’ fall (at the Coliseum, no less), the closing minutes of the loss to Mike Leach’s Washington State squad were played among "Fire Kiffin!" chants. USC has lost seven of its past nine games; Texas has dropped three of its past five.
1. Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 1): The Tigers did what we all expected in a 52-13 win over South Carolina State. They also ended up moving up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3. Their big win over Georgia in Week 1 remains the crown jewel in the ACC crown after two weeks.
2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 2): The Seminoles were off this past week after beating Pittsburgh in the opener. Let's see what Game 2 has in store for Jameis Winston this weekend against Nevada.
3. Miami (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 3): The Hurricanes had the most impressive win in Week 2, over No. 12 Florida, which vaults them to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But that win does nothing to change their standing in the ACC. There remains a clear gap between Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the league. Miami looks like it is starting to close the gap, but the Canes still have a long way to go -- especially after their offense struggled for most of the day against the Gators.
4. Georgia Tech (1-0 0-0 ACC; last week: 4): The Jackets were also off in Week 2, so all we have to judge them on is a blowout win over FCS Elon. The next five weeks will tell us what we need to know about this team, as the Jackets prepare to play at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Miami and at BYU. That is one of the most brutal stretches any ACC team has to play this season.
5. North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 7): The truth is, you could flip flop the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech at this point. Despite their victories over the weekend, both have problems that must be addressed. For starters, North Carolina has to get the coin toss figured out. The defense was once again up and down. They need a more consistent, better effort out of that group.
6. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 5): North Carolina gets the nod ahead of Virginia Tech for this week based on the quality of opponent it just played. The Tar Heels beat an FBS team, Virginia Tech an FCS team. I think we can all agree the Hokies have a formidable defense -- better than North Carolina's -- but the offense still has a ways to go to be respectable. Logan Thomas now has one touchdown pass and three interceptions on the season.
7. Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 6): No. 2 Oregon boatraced the Hoos on Saturday, but the truth is, nobody really expected them to win the game. They stay in the top half of the rankings this week based on their win over BYU in the opener. That win looks a lot better today after BYU clobbered No. 15 Texas. Virginia enters a five-game stretch now with winnable games. If the Hoos can take advantage, they will be looking good for a bowl spot.
8. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 8): The Terps have beaten their first two opponents by a combined 90-20 and have not faced much of a test. The opponents' strength has been really weak, hence their spot here. Still, this is a team that has showed off its talent on offense in the first two weeks. C.J. Brown, in his return from a knee injury, ranks No. 3 in the nation in total QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks. Chew on that one for a while.
9. Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 10): Give the Blue Devils credit for pulling out a road win in Memphis with backup quarterback Brandon Connette this past Saturday. You can write the win off by saying it was "only Memphis," but the Tigers are a rapidly improving team and Duke was on the ropes. Any road win is a good win for a team that won only once away from home last season.
10. NC State (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 9): The Wolfpack get downgraded slightly for struggling to beat Richmond. While it is true the Spiders have caused FBS opponents fits, the Wolfpack nearly handed the game away with their own miscues. NC State had four turnovers, including three inside Richmond territory. Quarterback Pete Thomas struggled, throwing two interceptions. While he did lead the team into field goal range for the game winner, he has some work to do to improve.
11. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 14): The Eagles climb out of the cellar for the first time in a long time after their 24-10 win over Wake Forest. You can already see the difference new coach Steve Addazio has made in the program. His team is playing a lot more physically and with a lot more energy. That is best illustrated in Andre Williams, who is now averaging 5.5 yards per carry -- one full yard better than last season. The BC run game has gone from awful to respectable in a matter of weeks. The Eagles have now matched their win total from 2012.
12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 12): The Panthers were off last week, so they stay put here. The good news is they will not have to play a team as strong as Florida State the rest of the way in the ACC. They get New Mexico this week.
13. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 11): The Deacs were supposed to be better this season with so many veterans returning, but they looked completely lost against BC. The defense got gashed on the ground. The offense could not run, nor could it execute the option effectively. Not sure why coaches insisted on sticking with it when it was not working. Their inability to run the ball was a bugaboo last season, and it looks to be the same this season.
14. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 ACC; last week: 13): The Orange have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far based on the first two games. No doubt they played a tough schedule to start against two Big Ten teams, but they were not even competitive in a loss to Northwestern this past weekend in which Drew Allen got benched after throwing four interceptions and the defense gave up 581 yards of total offense. Scott Shafer has some serious questions to answer before the season gets away from him.
Miami dominated in every single way, beating the beaten-down Bulls 40-9 to clinch bowl eligibility. Now we wait to see whether the Hurricanes make a decision to self-impose sanctions with ACC title hopes on the line.
All Miami has to do is beat Duke next week to make its first ACC championship game -- if the school opts against a postseason ban for the second straight year.
The Hurricanes (6-5) took advantage of a depleted USF (3-7) team -- with Stephen Morris throwing for over 400 yards and three different receivers going over 100 yards. That is pretty remarkable, considering how that position group has been depleted because of injuries and the suspension of Rashawn Scott.
But Clive Walford, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett each reached the century mark. And Morris became the second quarterback in Miami history to post three 400-yard passing games in his career, joining Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. The 413 passing yards are the second-most USF has ever allowed.
The Bulls, meanwhile, have now failed to make a bowl game for the second straight season. A team that opened the year with such high hopes is in total disarray.
Playing without B.J. Daniels, the Bulls could muster nothing on offense. Skip Holtz made the decision to start Bobby Eveld, burning the quarterback's redshirt in the 10th game of the season. It is a move that totally backfired, as Eveld sprained his shoulder late in the first quarter and did not return to the game.
Matt Floyd came in and was largely ineffective. About the only time USF moved the ball was at the end of the first half. But a time management blunder cost the Bulls, big time. Down inside the Miami 10, USF inexplicably let the play clock run off 20 seconds, with three timeouts remaining. The Bulls settled for a field goal to trail 16-3 at the half.
They would get no closer.
This will be the third straight season the Bulls have relied on their second-stringer in this game.
With starter B.J. Daniels out for the season, USF will start either Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld on Saturday. Coach Skip Holtz has not announced a starter yet, hoping to keep the competition between his two quarterbacks going as long as possible. Floyd has been the backup all season; but Eveld has more game experience -- including the only win in program history over the Hurricanes back in 2010.
"We've got an obligation to put the best quarterback on the field, the one that gives us the best opportunity to win," Holtz said. "As much as it's the opponent, it's the game experience. Being able to go on the road and lead a team in overtime to victory and make some of the plays [Eveld] did, that sits in the back. It's still about who gives you the best chance to win by protecting the ball, but that's one of those intangible things that has to lean in Bobby's favor with his game experience."
The plan going into the season was to redshirt Eveld and go with Floyd as the backup. But after Daniels broke his leg nearly two weeks ago against UConn, the plan changed. Eveld called the last two weeks a "roller coaster" but said he would do whatever it takes to help the team out, even if it means burning his redshirt with three weeks left in the season.
The two have essentially split all the reps last week during the bye and this week as well in order to get themselves prepared for the game. As mentioned earlier, playing Miami is nothing new for Eveld. He has come on in relief of Daniels the past two seasons. During the upset in 2010, he took over at halftime and engineered a fourth-quarter comeback. His 1-yard touchdown run sent the game into overtime, and USF won 23-20 after Demetris Murray scored in the extra period.
Miami coach Randy Shannon was fired hours after the game. But for USF, it was one of the biggest wins in school history. Eveld will never forget the celebration in the locker room.
"I still get way too much credit for that game," Eveld told ESPN.com during a phone interview Wednesday. "I think I was just able to play within the system and I stuck to my reads. The coaches really made it simple as far as terminology. They tried to keep it basic and everybody executed their job."
Miami coach Al Golden said he was not too concerned over who his team would have to face at quarterback, first praising Daniels for his terrific career before saying, "We're ready for either one of them. I see that more as an offensive system as opposed to just a quarterback."
Floyd has gotten the game experience this year, coming on in relief of Daniels briefly against Florida State, and then in the fourth quarter against UConn. He had fumbles in both of those games, perhaps due to nerves. But Floyd is ready for the challenge ahead of him, should his number get called to start. And a big reason why -- the competition has made him better.
"You can’t slack off," Floyd said in an interview with ESPN.com. "You’re never supposed to slack off, but when you’ve got somebody right on your back fighting for your position, it makes you fight that much harder. Me and Bobby are doing a great job pushing each other. Either decision the coaches make is what’s best for the team."
Forty degrees colder to be exact.
Cold weather and Florida teams generally do not work well together, and temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 30s and low 40s as the game goes on tonight. That is just one intangible to keep an eye on as the Hurricanes take on No. 9 Notre Dame.
The other, of course, is what a win like this could do for Miami.
No question there remains a lot of skepticism about the Hurricanes. Though they have won back-to-back games in heart-stopping fashion, there are still plenty of flaws Notre Dame could exploit. Flaws that we saw clear as day the last time Miami played a nonconference game on the road, against Kansas State.
That game is not far from people's minds. In fact, it is a question that has been asked repeatedly this week. How do we know Miami is any better than the team that got worked at Kansas State in Week 2? Two comeback wins in ACC play are great, but those two teams are not exactly the cream of the crop in the ACC.
Beating a Top 10 team -- and Notre Dame at that -- would validate Miami. And it would make the ACC look much better than it does today. The Coastal Division is an absolute trainwreck. Virginia Tech gave up 48 points today; North Carolina is ineligible for the postseason; Virginia is a mess. That leaves Miami and Duke as the class of your Coastal.
Now back to the larger point, more than appearing to be the class of the Coastal. Miami would instantaneously elevate the ACC. Rather than talk about the misery that is the Coastal, folks would talk about Miami being "back," and just in time, with No. 3 Florida State being "back." The ACC desperately need Florida State and Miami to be good, with all their history and tradition and national championship.
And national name brand recognition.
Miami is not a perfect team. But it doesn't take a perfect team to win a game. We'll see if Miami can pass this test.
The Kansas State Wildcats showed why Big 12 pundits should be paying closer attention to Bill Snyder’s squad with a dominant 52-13 victory over Miami. Here’s a closer look at how it happened:
It was over when: Miami appeared to be driving to tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter, but KSU defensive end Adam Davis had other ideas, forcing a Eduardo Clements fumble which was recovered by Arthur Brown. Davis’ play gave the Wildcats all the momentum and, more importantly, sent the message that Davis and the rest of the KSU defense were going to be creating havoc for most of the game.
Game ball goes to: The Hurricanes didn't have an answer for Collin Klein. The Wildcats' quarterback accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) and showed improved passing skills. He’s not a finished product by any means but he’s improving, undoubtedly putting a scare into defensive coordinators across the Big 12.
Unsung hero: Davis. The Wildcats' linebacker forced two fumbles and recorded two sacks. If he was wearing No. 92 in black and gold, you would have sworn James Harrison was on the field.
Unsung hero, Take 2: While the skill position players get the attention, the Wildcats dominated the game in the trenches. KSU’s offensive line opened running lanes and paved the way for 498 total yards (288 rushing, 210 passing) on offense.
Heisman watch: Largely considered a dark-horse candidate, Klein could catapult into the Heisman conversation if he continues to play like he did on Saturday. The senior had 210 passing yards and 71 rushing yards in the win. The Wildcats’ Sept. 22 date with Oklahoma could be a defining moment.
What it means: The Wildcats' win boosts the BCS profile of the Big 12 Conference after a dominating win over an ACC opponent. And for KSU, the battle with the Sooners -- assuming KSU wins its home game against North Texas on Sept. 15 -- has become a huge game with national implications.
NEWTON, Mass. -- The Eagles called this game a benchmark, saying it would be a good indication of how far they need to go to be where they want to be.
If that's the case, there's still a long way to go.
Chase Rettig and the new-look offense started out Saturday like a house on fire, moving the ball efficiently and scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions.
Then the house just burned to the ground.
A three-and-out and a pick-six on Rettig got the Hurricanes back to even, and then the differences between these two teams started to become more and more evident, as Miami pulled out the 41-32 victory.
The Eagles struggled at times to move the ball against the Hurricanes' aggressive defense and ultimately had to settle for field goals. They put the ball on the ground multiple times, losing two fumbles and recovering a couple more.
The Hurricanes showed true home run-hitting ability, getting two 50-plus-yard TD runs from touted freshman tailback Duke Johnson. And when they weren't hitting big plays, the Hurricanes were converting third downs when they needed to and keeping drives alive.
"We've gotta play better defense than that. But there were some good signs there, so we've gotta build on it and go forward."
There were, indeed, good signs. Rettig threw for a career-high 441 yards, completing 32 of 51 passes, two touchdowns and one interception. The 441 yards are the most for a BC signal-caller since Doug Flutie -- maybe you've heard of him? -- had 447 on Nov. 3, 1984. It's sixth all-time in the BC single-game record books.
In the first game under new offensive coordinator Doug Martin, the offense piled up 542 total yards and scored 30 points (the final two came on a safety). And there were more points to be had, if not for a few untimely drops and the aforementioned mistakes with ball security.
But it wasn't enough.
After a Nate Freese field goal gave BC back the lead at 23-21 midway through the third quarter, Kevin Pierre-Louis and the BC defense had Stephen Morris & Co. right where they wanted them. It was third-and-16 from the Miami 39-yard line after Kasim Edebali made a play to stop Mike James in the backfield.
The crowd got loud, and those on the BC sideline jumped up and down, willing a stop.
Instead, Morris found Allen Hurns open for a 21-yard gain and a first down. The drive stayed alive and ultimately resulted in the winning points for the visitors.
"No one made a play [on defense]. Didn't look like it," Spaziani said. "Although we did fight and stop them a couple times, not when we needed to. We can't give up that many points."
The big plays by Johnson were killers, but the Eagles said he didn't take them by surprise.
"He's an explosive back, and you can't give him areas like that to get through," Spaziani said. "We've gotta be a little better positioned and more precise."
Pierre-Louis, who had a game-high 11 tackles on the day, agreed.
"I just feel as though we need to execute a little bit better," Pierre-Louis said. "We were right in the right spots; we just need to push a little bit harder."
"When you score 32 points, you expect to win," Spaziani said. "The defense has got to play better than that. We're not equipped to play junior high school basketball games."
A clearly disappointed Rettig said he thought the offense played well overall.
"The only thing I can come back to is we didn't convert a few third-and-1s, and just not scoring touchdowns when we were in the red zone," he said. "We had a couple good looks on a couple plays; we just need to finish them."
The Eagles did score on six of their seven trips to the red zone, but only three of those scores were worth six points. Miami scored on all four of its red zone trips, and that doesn't include the scores by Johnson.
BC just made too many mistakes -- putting the ball on the ground at costly times, in costly positions on the field -- to win against an ACC opponent.
In fact, if the Eagles play like this next Saturday, they might struggle to put away the Maine Black Bears. And they're in the Football Championship Subdivision.
"That was a winnable game," Spaziani said. "Not taking anything away from Miami -- they deserved to win. We need to play better, catch the ball, hold on to the ball, tackle. Those are the things that we can improve on. And we need to."
If this first game was truly a benchmark, a road sign telling the Eagles just how far they have to go to reach their destination, that sign told them two things -- one that might be comforting, and another that might be just as discomfiting.
They seem to be on the right road, but there are still miles and miles to go before they're where they want to be.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.
NEWTON, Mass. -- Boston College dropped its season opener in Chestnut Hill for the second straight season, losing to Miami 41-32 on Saturday.
How it happened: Things could not have started better for the Eagles. The new offense sparkled on its opening drive, marching down the field with a good mix of pass and run, and punching it into the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead.
And after a three-and-out from Miami, Chase Rettig & Co. did it again, driving confidently downfield and finding pay dirt for a 14-0 lead.
Then the wheels started to come off.
After a three-and-out by the offense, the BC defense let Miami QB Stephen Morris find his rhythm, and watched the Hurricanes move up the field and into the end zone. On the next offensive set, Rettig telegraphed a pass, and sophomore linebacker Denzel Perryman snatched the ball out of the air, sprinting 41 yards for a pick-six.
Rettig was 3-for-4 for 58 yards on the Eagles’ first scoring drive, and 4-for-6 for 69 yards and a score on the second. He looked in complete command, 7-of-10 for 127 yards and that touchdown, and the offense seemed potent.
Not so much after the three-and-out and the pick-six. He was 7-for-12 for 104 yards and an interception in the rest of the half, adding a muffed interchange with center Andy Gallik to stall a red zone chance for good measure. And a BC offense that got touchdowns on its first two possessions had to settle for field goals thereafter until the game was all but decided.
And Miami? Well, Miami didn’t settle for anything. The Hurricanes used two 50-plus-yard TD runs (54 and 56 yards) from Duke Johnson to score quickly and a sparkling third-down conversion percentage to keep drives going, and piled up 41 points.
What it means: Another early hole the Eagles will have to dig themselves out of. They lost three straight games and six of their first seven to open the 2011 season, and never recovered en route to a 4-8 record.
The only win in the first seven? A home W over then-Football Championship Subdivision school UMass.
It’s unlikely the Eagles will open 0-3 this season, what with next weekend’s opponent (the Maine Black Bears) hailing from the FCS. But any hope of momentum carrying over from the strong finish they managed last season (winning three of their final five games) is now gone.
What’s next: BC will host the FCS Maine Black Bears on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.
Just coincidence, said committee chair Britton Banowsky, the Conference USA commissioner, that the report came out the day after North Carolina became a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament for a national-record 14th time. But the timing provided a reminder of what the university hired Davis to achieve and how spectacularly he failed to do so.
Over the course of the 1990s, Mack Brown had built the Tar Heels into a national power. He commandeered the resources to build one of the first Taj Mahals in the sport -- a $50 million palace of offices and facilities that announced to recruits and rivals that North Carolina took football seriously.
As much as Brown achieved, he couldn't lift the Tar Heels into the BCS hierarchy where the Florida States played. Though Brown left for Texas after the 1997 season, he had planted the seed. Nine years of mediocrity under Carl Torbush and John Bunting failed to dim the potential that Brown had kindled in the program.
Davis rebuilt a Miami team struck down by NCAA penalties and took them to the precipice of a national championship. When Davis left after the 2000 season for the Cleveland Browns, Larry Coker, his top assistant, took over and won the next 23 games. With the foundation assembled by Davis, Coker coached the Hurricanes within a double overtime of two consecutive crystal footballs.
That builder is who the Tar Heels assumed they hired. And Davis, a coaching lifer who traveled from Oklahoma high schools to the NFL, wanted to create a football empire on Tobacco Road.
For Ivan Maisel's full column, click here.
Luginbill listed Miami commit Angelo Jean-Louis as one of seven incoming recruits who can make an immediate impact for their team next year. Jean-Louis was the only ACC player listed. Here is Luginbill's analysis:
Jean-Louis is one of the most explosive players in space at the wide receiver position in this class. He will most notably make an impact in the return game at Miami, but the Canes are starting to get lean at WR due to upperclassmen being on their way out, and Jean-Louis will get in the rotation. Talent won't be an issue. With the Hurricanes' need at the position and Jean-Louis' skill set, this will be a good match.
Thomas in Raleigh, NC writes: Do you think the ACC should be stripped of it's AQ status? Clemson and VA Tech are decent teams, but neither is BCS caliber. In fact, if either were in the SEC this year, they would have finished no better than 6th place, behind LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia.
HD: No! If anyone should be stripped of its AQ status it's the Big East. And the ACC champ is certainly a BCS-deserving team. Clemson played more than enough ranked opponents this year, including three in a three-week stretch to earn that Orange Bowl bid. You can debate Virginia Tech's merit in the Sugar Bowl, but the ACC is still worthy of a BCS bowl every year.
Daniel in richmond, va writes: Heather, I know that Virginia Tech's selection to the Sugar Bowl was a surprise but why is all the talk about VT not deserving the bid, when Michigan also got a bid and are ranked lower than the Hokies? Why is it ok that Michigan is picked but it's so horrible that Virginia Tech was selected?
HD: Two points: 1. A lot of the perception comes from the voters, and people like myself who compile Top 25 lists every week during the season, and if you look at the votes, Michigan is ranked higher than Virginia Tech. It's the BCS standings and the computers that say otherwise. So based on perception, many think Michigan is the better team. 2. It all goes back to Virginia Tech's nonconference schedule. At least Michigan played Notre Dame and two ranked teams in Michigan State and Nebraska. If the BCS standings are what you want to look at, then the Hokies didn't beat any Top 25 teams this year.
Steve in Centreville, VA writes: As someone who follows recruiting, I think it is absolutely insane that Dabo is getting consideration for coach of the year this year. What expectation did he exceed? He lost 3 games with a team full of some of the best recruiting classes in the ACC/country. Coaches should STOP getting credit for DECENT years after coaching horribly for the previous couple. Not to take anything away from Clemson, but their athelets and FSU's atheletes are freakish and if their coaches got the most out of them, they would be playing with the likes of LSU and Alabama. Thoughts?
HD: If you're talking national coach of the year, I think Dabo is a stretch. Personally, I voted for Bill Snyder of K-State for Eddie Robinson. As for ACC coach of the year, though, I think he was the perfect choice. He DID exceed expectations. The Tigers weren't even ranked heading into this season, and they had a new QB, a new coordinator and an entirely new offense. And he hasn't coached horribly. This is the second time in three years they've won the division. Historically, yes, Clemson has underachieved with the talent it has had, but I don't think Clemson lost three games because of coaching. They lost it because of execution. And Georgia Tech simply played lights-out that day.
leftcoastcanesfan in Suisun City, CA writes: Now that Tommy Streeter has regrettably declared for the NFL, will the opening he has created actually benefit the Canes's recruiting efforts at W/R?
HD: Not just there, but immediate playing time and early contributions should be a main selling point at several positions as Miami coach Al Golden recruits. The Hurricanes have got to be careful with their scholarship allotment, though, because of possible NCAA sanctions. It will be an interesting, selective year for Miami recruiting.
Greg in Blacksburg writes: How important is it that Tech wins this game? Everyone on campus today was absolutely shocked that we are going to the Sugar Bowl. If the ACC wants any kind of respect in the coming years we have to show that we deserve these kind of big games.
HD: Couldn't agree more, Greg. I read Frank Beamer's quotes about being deserving, and not apologizing, and I don't think the Hokies have to apologize for anything. They just have to prove worthy of being in that bowl by playing like it.
Andrew in Marietta, Ga writes: HD,I know you try to be fair and unbias. And I appreciate that. But you should remeber who you are writing for and representing. The ACC!Having two teams in the BCS Bowls is a great thing. You've been saying that for years. Yes, VT played horible against Clemson, twice. And I was just as surprised as you that they were picked to go to the Sugar. But they had a good season overall. Having the BCS pick the Hokies as an at large team shows some respect for VT and the ACC.You should be writing about that and not putting the Hokies down like everyone else.
HD: You know, it's funny you mention that because my inbox is FILLED with angry Virginia Tech fans. I don't think there's enough space in the blogosphere for all of the hate mail I received this week from Hokies fans for this column. You guys couldn't get past the line, though, where I said they don't deserve to play in the Sugar Bowl. Well, they don't. But the whole point of that article was to say, who cares?! Who cares if people think Virginia Tech shouldn't be there? So what? They're going, the ACC has two teams in BCS bowls for the first time 14 years, so let's all enjoy it. I am THRILLED to be going to two BCS bowls this year. I'm going to the Sugar Bowl and leaving the next day to fly to the Orange Bowl. To be able to do that is awesome. I'm going to enjoy it. And so should you. We'll see how Virginia Tech fares against Michigan. It's up to the Hokies to write their own story and change the perception.