If you were to tell me that Miami would be entering a primetime game against Clemson without their starting quarterback, I would have assumed Miami was blown out the water.
However, that was the old Miami. The Miami before Mario Cristobal arrived back home in corral gables. Miami’s starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was sidelined due to an undisclosed injury.
True freshman Emory Williams for Miami got the start today. In his first ever start, Miami’s offense went into a conservative offense. Running the ball most of the first quarter that was offset by screens. Ultimately, the Canes would rush for 211 yards against a top-5 defense
Up until the second half, Emory had barely thrown over 30 yards. Miami’s offense wasn’t terrible, but it showed that the playbook wasn’t open all the way. It wasn’t until the second half where we saw Emory sling the ball.
Williams ended the game 24/33 for 151 yards and 1 touchdown.
Luckily for Miami the defense was on it all game.
Coming into this matchup, we knew freshman edge rusher Rueben Bain Jr. was a force to be known. Against Clemson, he made a statement as being unblock-able. He had 8 tackles, 2 sacks, and a force fumble on the day.
Miami’s star safeties James Williams and Kam Kinchens both forced turnovers. James forced a fumble and recovered it. Kinchens caught his second interception of the season and 8th of his career.
Outside of the stars, what did we learn?
1. Miami is moving in the right direction
It has been years since we’ve felt like Miami was moving in the right direction on the field this late into the season. When we’ve seen Miami win or lose a game this season, we knew why they won. We could watch the game and tell that the entire team was playing hard.
Yes, at times the Canes looked tired, but there hasn’t been a game where they’ve looked confused. The depth of the team was challenged with Tyler Van Dyke being out, but the offensive line still dominated.
At this point in the year, we can all admit that this team and program has a promising future.
2. The defense is legit
Yes, North Carolina hung 41 points on the Miami defense, but that was because of Miami’s offense. The defense was put into difficult situations in the second half by the multiple turnovers. Honestly, there hasn’t been too many games this year where the opposing team drove down the field and scored on the defense.
Clemson had a very difficult time running the ball and protecting Case Klubnik. Miami’s defense allowed just 31 yards rushing.
Miami’s secondary is filled with veteran talent that have stepped up in many ways this year. The only fear is that the backups won’t be ready by next year. In the meantime, we can sit in awe of freshman Rueben Bain Jr’s talent.
3. Mario Cristobal decisions
Granted, Miami was able to beat Clemson in double overtime, but did it have to go to overtime? That’s the real question we need answered. Miami had almost a minute to score before the end of regulation. In that drive, Miami rushed for a first down and had ample time to do another play to get into field goal range. However, instead of pushing for the field goal, Miami opted to let the time run out.
At this point, I don’t know if Mario get nervous or just don’t know when to put the hammer down on a team. That loss to Georgia Tech is due to the many turnovers and Miami not taking a knee. The overtime win over Clemson on Saturday could have been a disaster if the Canes would have loss.
Needless to say, Mario’s questionable decisions will be scrutinized until we see them pay off more times then not.