Recollected Dozen, Game 2: 1988 Miami @ Michigan

This is part of a series on Canes football games that have been lost to history. Information on the series including other articles is available here

The Year

The year is 1988. President Ronald Reagan is in the final year of his presidency. The week of September 17th, 1998 saw Sweet Child O- Mine by Guns N’ Roses top the Billboard Hot 100 list. And The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy was #1 on the New York Times fiction best seller list. Gas was $0.96 a gallon. The big news story was that we were a week away from the first Presidential Debate between Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and Vice President George H.W. Bush.

The Combatants

Miami entered the game 1-0, having beat Florida State 31-0.

Michigan was 0-1, having lost at Notre Dame 19-17.

The Context

The Canes were the defending national champions, having gone undefeated in 1987. They were the #1 team in the country and favored to win this game. The infamous Seminoles Rap game had elevated the Canes to an almost Super Human level of play.

Michigan came into this game ranked 15th in the nation. They had lost the Notre Dame game after falling behind early, and then rallying to take the lead, only to lose in the 4th quarter.

Another story was the coaches. Michigan was lead by the legendary Bo Schembechler. Miami had the greatest coach in football history in Jimmy Johnson.

The Game

Miami got off to a poor start when they fumbled on their opening possession after one first down.

Michigan QB Michael Taylor was able to move the Wolverines inside the Canes 15, but the drive stalled. Michigan did collect a FG and lead 3-0 5 minutes into the game.

The Canes responded, immediately. Cleveland Gary and Rob Chudsinzki would combine on the next drive (something that would be a running theme). Gary carried for one first down, then Chud helped convert a 3rd and long to midfield, collecting a pass from Steve Walsh. On 3rd-and-9 from the 49, Walsh hit Gary who broke several tackles and outran Michigan to the end zone putting the Canes up  7-3.

Michigan countered with a drive to the Canes 29. Taylor again proved elusive as his mobility was neutralizing the Canes pass rush. But Michigan kicker Michael Gillette missed the FG.

Miami’s next drive was a disaster, as they threw an incompletion and then made a dead ball personal foul. They ended up punting from the end zone, and the punt was short. Michigan started at the Canes 40. Fortunately, Gillette was off on the day, and after the Wolverines drove to the Canes 17, he missed another FG.

That ended the quarter with the Canes leading 7-3, and Michigan having missed 2 FGs.

After the Canes went 3-and-out, Michigan once again drove, this time behind Tony Bowles’ running and Taylor’s ability to throw on the run. The drive stalled inside the Canes red zone, but Gillette made this FG and it cut the lead to 7-6.

On the next drive, Randall Hill bobbled the kickoff and the Canes faced a long field. Cleveland Gary had a long run and long catch to move the ball out to the Canes 40, but a holding penalty killed the drive. On 4th down, the Canes faked the punt and successfully converted. That led to Cleveland Gary diving in from the 1 to put the Canes up 14-6 with 3 minutes left in the half.

Miami almost short-circuited the next Michigan drive. Bowles fumbled, and several Canes had a chance to recover near midfield, but couldn’t. They’d pay for that as on 3rd-and-7, Michigan would complete a big pass on an out route to the Canes 17. A few players later, Taylor would throw a TD on a play-action pass. Michigan went for and missed the 2, so they trailed 14-12, with 57 seconds left.

On the ensuing kickoff, Miami fumbled after a good return out to the 35. Michigan recovered. On 3rd-and-6 from the 22, the Wolverines threw a TD to the corner of the end zone on a great sliding catch. Michigan also converted the 2 and led 20-14.

Miami managed to accidentally kneel the next kickoff at their own 3, but got into the half by diving into the line.

Miami had been in control of the game, but gifted Michigan 14 points in the last minute of the half to trail.

After forcing the Wolverines to punt to open the 2nd half (Michigan’s first punt of the game), Gary, Leonard Conley, and Chud made several plays to take the Canes to the Michigan 12. Gary was open for the go-ahead TD, but Walsh just overthrew him. On the next play, the ball went off Dale Dawkins’ hands and was intercepted by Michigan at the GL. They returned it out to the 19, so Miami didn’t even get field position.

Another 3-and-out returned the ball to the Canes, but once again Walsh had a ball go off a receivers’ hands, this time Gary, for an interception, this time near midfield.

The Wolverines took advantage, getting a big completion to the Canes 20, and followed that up by Taylor scrambling inside the 10. But Randy Shannon made a huge sack to force Michigan to settle for a FG, which they made to go up 23-14.

The quarter ended with Michigan having forced a Canes 3-and-out and driven it out to the 45. Michigan would convert 2 3rd-and-longs. The first was a pass to the Canes 38. The second was after Taylor was injured on a sack. On 3rd-and-16, backup Demetrius Brown came in and completed a long throw to the Canes 14. Taylor returned for a 3rd-and-13, and hit Chris Calloway for the TD that put the Wolverines up 30-14.

If the Canes were ready to mount a comeback, it didn’t show on the next drive. Miami went backward and punted out of their end zone. Michigan took over at the Canes 41. The defense held and forced a punt that went out for a touchback.

Trailing by 16 with 7:30 left and the ball on their 20, a win seemed almost impossible. Almost.

Walsh hit Dawkins for 22 yards, and then Andre Brown to the Michigan 45. Chud then got involved, catching several passes to convert 1st downs, including finally for a TD with 5:23 left. Dawkins caught the 2-point conversion and the lead was down to 30-22.

The Canes forced a 3-and-out and caught a fair catch at their own 43. After a completion to Chud was just short of the 1st down, the Canes and specifically Cleveland Gary made the play of the game. From the Michigan 48 on 4th-and-2, Walsh hit Gary on a crossing route and he broke free from the defenders, headed up the sideline and ran for a TD to pull the Canes within 2. The 2-point conversion was intercepted, and the Canes trailed by 2 with 2:58 left.

This is where Jimmy Johnson made the call of the game. With 3 timeouts, the Canes could have kicked deep. Instead, he went for the onside kick. And Miami recovered. Not wasting any time, Walsh hit Andre Brown to the edge of field goal range. From there, Cleveland Gary ran the ball to the Michigan 16. The Canes ran the clock down as much as possible, and Carlos Huerta nailed the FG with 43 seconds left to put the Canes up 31-30.

Michigan moved the ball to near midfield, but a Hail Mary attempt fell short and the Canes escaped with a 31-30 win.

Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7UNuTP-bpA

Full Game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zXKXXjQlcw

Why is it Memorable?

This game is the closest I came to a game being too memorable to be on this list. But, you ask anyone about the 1988 season, and the discussion is about the Notre Dame game, not this one.

But Miami should have lost this game. The missed Michigan FGs, the multiple interceptions short-circuiting drives, the multiple errors on kickoffs…you shouldn’t be able to recover from that.

The Canes did, though. Timely stops by the defense, and an awful lot of Rob Chudsinzki and Cleveland Gary, as well as nerves of steel from Steve Walsh turned this game around. Gary himself scored 3 TDs and was unstoppable all game long.

And what about Jimmy Johnson? Twice, he made critical decisions that won the game. In the first half, the Canes were clinging to a 1-point lead but struggling. His fake punt decision got them in the end zone. And then there’s the onside kick, which set up the winning FG. Conventional wisdom is to kick deep and use timeouts, but Johnson went the other way.

That resulted in Michigan fans being a bit stunned:

When you leave the opponents looking like that, it is a win for the ages.

The Aftermath

This turned out to be 2 of the best teams in the country.

Miami would “lose” to Notre Dame because apparently Cleveland Gary lying flat on the ground is not down yet. That blemish would cost them a National Championship and they’d finish 2nd.

Jimmy Johnson would move on at year’s end, turning the Dallas Cowboys into a dynasty while Dennis Erickson took over and won 2 National Championships in the next 3 years.

This team deserved a championship, but was robbed.

As for Michigan, they only tied one game the rest of the year, winning the rest, including the Rose Bowl to finish ranked 4th.

Have memories of this game? Tweet us at @vrp2003 and @5ReasonsSports

 

THE EXTRA YARD: 2020 NFL DRAFT Top 5 QB’s

Welcome to the Five Reasons Sports 2020 NFL Draft Guide. We will be bringing you a top 5 list compiled by Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga), and a counter list by Simon Clancy (@SiClancy) for each position, for the 2020 NFL Draft. By offering you rankings of prospects 1 thru 5 for each position, we hope you will better understand this most important draft. Enjoy!

Miami Dolphins Picks:
Round1· Pick 5(5)
Round1· Pick 18(18)PIT > MIA
Round1· Pick 26(26)HOU > MIA
Round2· Pick 7(39)
Round2· Pick 24(56)NO > MIA
Round3· Pick 6(70)
Round4· Pick 35(141)Compensatory
Round5· Pick 7(153)
Round5· Pick 9(154)JAX > PIT > MIS
Round5· Pick 28(173)BAL > LA > MIN
Round6· Pick 6(185)
Round7· Pick 13(227)IND > MIA
Round7· Pick 32(246)KC > MIA
Round7· Pick 37(251)Compensatory

QUARTERBACKS

1. TUA TAGOVAILOA – Alabama – 6’-0” 217 lbs.

What can be said about Tua that we haven’t already said? He is the real deal, with uncanny anticipation, confidence to throw the tight windows, and the accuracy to make those throws not much of a risk. Tagovailoa is also not hopeless with his feet. He can run when needed, and runs smartly. The best deep ball thrower in the draft, is also the best intermediate thrower, while also being the best ball manipulator/handler. The only knock is the injury concern, which is very real.

 

2. JOE BURROW – LSU- 6’-4” 221 lbs.

Simply put, Joe Burrow had the best season for a Quarterback in College Football History. That alone would have moved his draft status from where it was (Day 3 pick) to the top of the draft. But there is more. I was not a big fan of his, due to the “one hit wonder” nature of hsi production, and what I consider sub par arm strength. What Burrow lacks in power,he makes up with impeccable mechanics. Good anticipation, above average athleticism, Football IQ, ideal size, make Burrow as complete a prospect as we have seen in a long while.

 

3. JORDAN LOVE – Utah State – 6’-4” 224 lbs.

Love has every throw in the book. There is simply not a place on a football field, and an arm angle that Jordan Love can’t get too. Good size, with a knack for escaping with his feet and making yards on the run, check all the “natural ability” boxes for Love. So it begs the question, if he is a good, why was he so bad in 2019? You can call these excuses, but they are very much legitimate. 7 new starters on offense, lost most of his skill guys, and some turnover in coaches. Go back to his 2018 season, and things look a bit different. There is Huge upside for Love, with the downside being that his decision making is somewhat poor. Of my top 5, he is the least likely to start in year 1.

 

4. JUSTIN HERBERT- Oregon- 6’-6” 236 lbs.

He can throw it through a brick wall. Best arm of all these prospects. Herbert has been supplanted over the term of the last 18 months, first by Tua Tagovailoa and then Joe Burrow for “top prospect” status, mainly due to Herbert not progressing as a prospect. He has had chances to shine in nationally televised “showdown” games and come up short (Auburn, 2019), but he did finish strong in the Rose Bowl with 3 rushing TD’s (he threw for 138 yards however). What Herbert lacks in consistency, he makes up for in potential. There is simply not many 6′-6″ 235lb. rocket armed prospects, with his mix of arm talent, and athleticsm. He is not so much a “project” as he is a “projection”. Herbert can be anything.

5. JACOB EASON – Washington- 6’-6” 231 lbs.

Very strong arm, with good size, and uncanny ability for throwing accurate in cut routes. I believe Eason would have been better served and probably solidified a 1st round status, had he returned to Washington for his senior season. Has a bit of a gun slinger mentality, but he does not play with confidence when facing a rush. Tends to drop his eyes when guys dive at his feet, and is pretty poor in escaping the pocket. Eason is begging for experience, and coaching. Those things you can teach, but you cannot teach his size and his pure natural ability. Eason does do one thing very well however that can help him play early in his career. He recognizes coverages well, and attacks accordingly. Sometimes vertically. He is the type that can play early with limited responsibility. To be much more, you would have to call him a project.

 

SIMON CLANCY’S (@SiClancy) VIEW:

1. Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama
2. Joe Burrow – LSU
3. Jordan Love – Utah State
4. Justin Herbert – Oregon
5. Jacob Eason – Washington

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) and Simon Clancy (SiClancy) are two-thirds of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

Miami Dolphins

Going Rogue: Three Round Miami Dolphins Draft

What if the upcoming Dolphins’ draft goes against expectations?

The word “mock” as an adjective; and perhaps in the context of a sports draft would be defined as “arranged for training or practice, or performed as a demonstration”

That could be why you see hundreds of them from prognosticators far and wide.

The word mock as a verb could also be applicable in these instances.

mock – “Make (something) seem laughably unreal or impossible”.

Usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes the board goes as the majority expects.

Other times the human element takes over and the once predictable draft boards become full of the unexpected.

Each NFL draft has its own plot twists, and smart teams capitalize on the moment and take advantage.

The Miami Dolphins are poised to be the stars of the 2020 NFL Draft, with three first round picks.

Perhaps nearly as important are the three remaining selections inside the top 70, which bodes well for a Dolphins roster in need of depth.

Everyone who follows the team, and those that don’t, know that Miami needs their quarterback of the future.

Tua Tagovailoa has been the “Chosen One” for what seems like an eternity.

Until the smoke started.

 

Another possibility… both factions are wrong.

So what if that happens?

What if Burrow does in fact go to Cincinnati, and then another quarterback needy team jumps Miami for Tua?

That may be an uneasy scenario for Dolphins’ fans to stomach, but if we are known for one thing it is a tough constitution.

Let’s take a look at how the first three rounds could deviate from predictability, including a full mock of Day 1.

“Seeing Through the Smoke”

Picture Miami standing pat with their existing picks and starting Day 1 with the 5th selection.

Crazy, right?

Say the first four picks go something like this:

No.1 Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

No. 2 Washington Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State

No. 3 Los Angeles Chargers (via trade with DET) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Yeah, that just happened.

The departure of Phillip Rivers leaves the quarterback situation in Los Angeles uncertain.

Tyrod Taylor is not the long term solution.

The Chargers take a leap of literal and proverbial faith and grab their franchise quarterback in the hopes someone will notice.

 

The Miami Dolphins 2020 draft takes its first detour.

No. 4 New York Giants – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

With the two top quarterbacks in the eyes of many off the board, where does the Dolphins brain trust go?

Justin Herbert is still there but so are three top tackles, along with Isaiah Simmons and Jeffrey Okudah.

Could you imagine a secondary of Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and Okudah?

Neither could Miami apparently.

No. 5 Cleveland Browns (via Miami) – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

In this scenario Cleveland doesn’t think the quick rising Becton lasts until their original pick at 10, so they swap with Miami and include their 2020 second round pick (41) in the deal.

No. 6 Detroit Lions (via Chargers) – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

No. 7 Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

No. 8 Arizona Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

No. 9 Jacksonville Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

No. 10 Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert QB, Oregon

See, Miami did take a quarterback with their first pick!

 

Seeing through the #SmokeSZN is nearly impossible unless you are one of the chosen few in the Dolphins power structure.

Make no mistake, the Dolphins are on the clock for their next great quarterback.

The link to Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins has nearly been spoken into existence.

It still may happen, but having drawn as such a foregone conclusion so early seems lacking

Herbert may have been the prize all along, and at this draft position is the ultimate value.

 

Now Miami has positioned themselves to add top level depth in the second and third rounds, while securing their quarterback.

No. 11 New York Jets – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

No. 12 Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

No. 13 San Francisco 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

No. 14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina

No. 15 Denver Broncos – Henry Ruggs, III WR, Alabama

No. 16 Atlanta Falcons – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

No. 17 Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

No. 18 Miami Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Miami now sits with five more picks through Round 2, in a draft full of players that fit their needs in this range.

With positions such as tackle and safety running low, and with all the top running backs still on the board, Miami could go any direction here.

However with Hebert the choice earlier, his protection must be a priority.

Jones is a bit of a reach here, he has all the athletic traits you look for at tackle but lacks refinement.

 

With development he can be a high level NFL starter but will need improvement in the fundamentals to meet that potential.

If we have learned one thing about Brian Flores and his coaching staff. it is that player development is of the highest priority.

No. 19 Las Vegas Raiders – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

No. 20 Jacksonville Jaguars – Grant Delpit, S, LSU

No. 21 Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

No. 22 Minnesota Vikings – Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

No. 23 New England Patriots – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Of course.

No. 24 New Orleans Saints – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

No. 25 Minnesota Vikings – Antoine Winfield, S, Minnesota

No. 26 Miami Dolphins – J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

The offensive makeover becomes the priority of the first round and the Dolphins somehow luck into Dobbins who fits their style perfectly.

Miami has secured their quarterback and his blindside protector, now they have their running back of the future.

 

The Dolphins rushed to get Dobbins in for a pre-draft visit before closing down their facilities due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Dobbins mix of power and speed make him the ideal feature back, he is a willing pass blocker but does need to improve there a bit.

Last year he became the first Ohio State running back to rush for 2000 yards in a single season (301 carries, 2003 yards, 21 TD, 6.2 YPC)

Dobbins caught 71 passes in his three seasons at Ohio State and can be an every down weapon for many years.

No. 27 Seattle Seahawks – A.J. Espenesa, EDGE, Iowa

No. 28 Baltimore Ravens – D’Andre Swift, RB, Clemson

No. 29 Tennessee Titans – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State

No. 30 Green Bay Packers – Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

No. 31 San Francisco 49ers – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

No. 32 Kansas City Chiefs Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin

The first round of the Dolphins draft is dedicated to the offense, in harmony with the defensive additions in free agency.

However, Miami is by no means done with two premium picks in Round 2 awaiting them.

Round 2

Having three first-round picks in one draft can rebuild the top shelf quickly.

Add three more in the second-round and you can fill up the entire pantry.

Miami continues building out the trenches on Day 2 and the roster begins to take shape.

No. 39 – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan

Miami further solidifies the offensive line with Ruiz, the near consensus top interior lineman in the draft.

Ruiz has plenty of experience having started 31 games for Michigan over his career, with 26 at center.

His versatility will be vital to a revamped offensive line and his play against Big-10 competition in the trenches will help his transition.

Ruiz can be a factor at the second level in the run game, and is an enthusiastic lead blocker in the screen game.

He sets a stout anchor and usually gives up little ground on pass protection.

Ruiz is strong enough to hold off larger defensive lineman and agile enough to compete with smaller ones.

With improved strength and conditioning at the NFL level, Ruiz can meet what is a very high professional ceiling.

No. 41 (from Cleveland) Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU

After four consecutive picks on the offensive side, the Dolphins finally come back to the defense with an interior disruptor in Blacklock.

With Devon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins Miami has two solid pocket movers, and with Blacklock they add another.

Blacklock has a nonstop motor that will be well received and has the quick feet to blow up the middle or set the edge.

Missing 2018 with an Achilles set him back a bit in terms of seeing the game, but Blacklock has the motor and physical tools to be a force in the middle for years.

No. 56 Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

The infusion of youth and high upside on the offensive line continues with Niang, who joins his TCU teammate Ross Blacklock in Miami. Niang is an excellent value at pick 56, his floor profiles as an above average NFL starter. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 328 pounds, Niang possesses prototypical size for an NFL tackle.

Niang played through a hip injury until November which seemed to limit his mobility somewhat, and he can struggle against quicker edge rushers in pass sets.

He made 27 starts at right tackle in college and projects there at the next level, his pass blocking upside is elite but will need refinement as a road grader.

Niang is not scheme limited and should fit nicely on the right side of the revamped offensive line sooner than later.

Round 3

The first two rounds of the Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft focused on value, need, and roster balance.

With one selection in the third round, Miami checks one last box and addresses the thin safety position.

No. 70 Ashtyn Davis, S, California

Miami gets their versatile safety in Davis who brings a varied skill set that Brian Flores covets.

Davis can play all over the field whether in base or sub packages, and will likely be a key contributor on special teams right away.

He is willing to stick his nose in on run support but has struggled with some run fits, Davis is not your long term in-the-box safety.

Davis has a high motor and the range to make up for the occasional misstep, along with the ability to matchup in the slot when called upon.

 

With his versatility and likeliness to contribute in all phases of special teams, Davis fits what Miami needs in many ways.

Summary

No. 10 – Justin Herbert, QB

No. 18 Josh Jones, OT

No. 26 J.K. Dobbins, RB

No. 39 Cesar Ruiz, C 

No. 41 Russ Blacklock, IDL

No. 56 Lucas Niang, OT

No. 70 Ashtyn Davis, S

 

By trading down the Dolphins were able to add a high second round pick and bring in new talent across the offensive line.

They also went off script by moving down and selecting Herbert, a move that may draw criticism from fans and media alike.

But they were also able to get the top running back for their system, and two players that can immediately impact the defense and special teams.

The Miami Dolphins offensive line in 2020 could somehow end up looking something like this:

LT: Josh Jones

LG: Erick Flowers

C: Cesar Ruiz

RG: Ted Karras

RT: Lucas Niang

Forget easing the rookies into it, may as well let them all learn on the job.

No matter how well Miami drafts and supplements in free agency, this is still not a playoff roster.

Ryan Fitzpatrick can hide some of the warts and help the rookies grasp the game at the NFL level.

It is nearly impossible for the aforementioned script to unfold, but trading down and acquiring even more assets could happen.

In some way, shape, or form the most important draft for the Miami Dolphins in this century is happening April 23rd.

One that will go down in history for many reasons.

We will be hosting a live draft show on Day One with numerous contributors throughout our network.

Follow @5ReasonsSports on Twitter for more details.

Make sure to subscribe to the 3 Yards Per Carry Miami Dolphins podcast.

 

Recollected Dozen, Game 3: 2005 Miami @ Clemson

This is part of a series on Canes football games that have been lost to history. Information on the series including other articles is available here

The Year

The year is 2005. President George W. Bush is in the first year of his final term in office. The week of September 17th, 2005 saw Gold Digger by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx top the Billboard Hot 100 list. And The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman was #1 on the New York Times fiction best seller list. Gas was $2.77 a gallon. The big news story was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina hitting Mississippi and devastating the Gulf Coast, including breaking levees in New Orleans and flooding the city.

The Combatants

Miami entered the game at 0-1, having lost the season opener at Florida State.

Clemson entered the game at 2-0, having beaten Texas A&M and Maryland.

The Context

This was a matchup of 2 ranked teams.

The Canes came into this game off of a loss and a bye week, having opened with FSU on Monday Night Football in Tallahassee. It was game that featured several mistakes, dropped passes, and ultimately a dropped hold on a FG attempt which gifted the Seminoles a 10-7 win. But no one was sure if the Canes were any good.

For Clemson, they had won 2 games by a total of 4 points. Against Texas A&M, they kicked 6 FGs and won 25-24, including hitting the game winning FG with 2 seconds left. Against Maryland, the Tigers trailed by 10 heading into the 4th quarter. But back-to-back TDs saw them escape with a win.

The narrative coming into the game was that Miami had cracked under the pressure in a close loss while Clemson had done the opposite, twice.

The Game

Both defenses came out ready to play and the teams exchanged 5 punts (3 for Clemson, 2 for Miami) with the longest drive being 11 yards.

Finally, the Canes put together a strong drive. Kyle Wright completed pass to Ryan Moore for 16 yards, Quadtrine Hill for 9 yards, and after a holding penalty put the Canes in 3rd and long, Darnell Jenkins along the sideline for a big conversion. Tyrone Moss would pick up the next first down via the ground, but the Canes would have to settle for a FG, which Jon Peattie put through to nudge the Canes in front 3-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.

Clemson immediately responded going 85 yards in 5 plays, in a minute of time of possession. After Charlie Whitehurst kept the ball on a QB sneak for 2 yards, the Tigers crossed up the Canes’ defense on a shotgun RPO where Whitehurst ran for 65 yards. 2 plays later Whitehurst would complete the TD pass that put Clemson ahead 7-3.

Both defenses settled down after that, and there were 3 consecutive punts.

It would be the Tigers who would put together the next drive, set up by a long throw from Whitehurst to Curtis Baham up the seem of the Canes defense for 38 yards on 3rd-and-7 from the Clemson 23. Miami would stiffen, but Clemson converted a 4th-and-1 at the Canes 30. Finally, after gifting Clemson another 1st down with consecutive offside penalties, the Canes forced a FG, which Clemson made to go up 10-3.

Miami’s offense responded, in a roundabout way. After Tyrone Moss picked up a first down on 2 runs, the Canes pitched the ball to Devin Hester who did Devin Hester things, running for 36 yards to the Clemson 22-yard line. On the next play, Kyle Wright was temporarily knocked out and Kirby Freeman came in. That stalled the drive, but Peattie hit another FG, and the lead was trimmed to 10-6.

The half ended that way, with Clemson up 10-6, but with the game finely balanced between 2 offenses that had a few explosive plays, but were mostly dominated by the defenses.

Hester opened the 2nd half with a strong kickoff return to the Canes 43. After Tyrone Moss carried the Canes across midfield to the Clemson 41, disaster struck. Wright was sacked for an 8-yard loss, and then a holding penalty pushed the Canes back further. They ended up losing 2 yards on the drive and punting from their own 41, but Brian Monroe hit a perfect punt and pinned Clemson inside their 10.

After the Canes D forced a 3-and-out, the offense took over on the Clemson 47. After Wright hit Jenkins for another critical 3rd down conversion, Moss took over. He carried on 5 consecutive plays, taking the Canes inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line. From there, Wright dumped to Hill on a screen pass for the go ahead TD, putting Miami up 13-10.

A series of errors resulted in no points on the next drive. After Clemson drove the ball to midfield, the Canes forced a punt. But they roughed the kicker, giving Clemson a first down on the Canes 30. But when the Canes held Clemson at the 28, the Tigers false-started on a FG attempt. Backed up 5 yards, they tried and missed a 50-yard FG.

Miami’s offense responded by trying to put the game away. Derron Thomas got some rare action, and carried for 4 and 12 yards for one 1st down, and then another 4 yards to get Miami into range at 3rd-and-6 at the Clemson 47. From there, on the last play of the 3rd quarter, Wright hit Sinorice Moss for 43 yards to the Clemson 6. 2 plays into the 4th quarter, Tyrone Moss scored the TD that put Miami up 20-10 early in the 4th quarter.

On the next drive, the Canes made multiple penalties which allowed the Tigers to put together a few first downs, but they ultimately punted. Moss and Charlie Jones combined on the next drive to muscle down a few first downs, and get the ball into Clemson territory. The drive stalled, but Monroe’s punt pinned Clemson at their own 19, with only 7:01 remaining.

It took Clemson 10 plays to go 81 yards. The Big play was a 23-yard completion to Baham to the Canes 10. Whitehurst would QB sneak for a TD from there. Miami’s defense, brilliant all day, failed to force a 3rd down. It was now 20-17.

Miami’s offense needed a first down to ice the game. After Moss gained 4 yards on 2 plays, Wright was sacked on 3rd down. Monroe’s punt put the Tigers at their own 44 yard line with 1:15 left.

Whitehurst hit Baham for 11 and 14 yards, moving to the Canes 31. From there, he hit Chansi Stuckey for 21 yards to the Canes’ 10 with 41 with 26 seconds left. Clemson was 10 yards from victory. On 3rd-and-10, with 23 seconds left, Whitehurst had Stuckey wide open in the end zone, but overthrew him. Whitehurst was hit as he threw and had to rush the pass, but after the game, this was pointed to, justifiably, as a moment where Clemson could have won the game. The Tigers did hit a FG to tie it at 20 and force OT.

Miami got the ball first. Moss gained a yard on 1st down. On 2nd-and-9, the Canes made a holding penalty, and Miami was at 2nd-and-19. Wright hit Greg Olsen for 8 yards, and then on 3rd-and-11, Wright hit Ryan Moore for a huge gain down to the Clemson 6. With that new life, it was time for Tyrone Moss, who scored a TD 2 plays later. The extra point put the Canes up 27-20.

Clemson immediately started moving on their next drive. They needed a TD, but gained 10 yards on 1st down. After consecutive catches netted 8 total yards to the Canes’, Clemson found themselves at 4th-and-2. The play broke down, but Whitehurst fired a bullet into the end zone and found Baham who made the catch that tied the game at 27.

Miami’s defense put together a strong possession on the next drive. Clemson only gained 2 yards on 3 plays, but made the FG to go up 30-27.

The Canes offense knew a TD could win the game. After Moss was stuffed for a 2-yard loss, Wright hit Moore again, for 16 yards to the Clemson 11. Moss gained 9 yards on the next 2 runs. On 3rd-and-1 from the Clemson 2, the Canes called on Moss, but for once, Clemson stopped him for no gain. The Canes had the option of going for the win on 4th-and-1 from the 2 or for kicking the FG and forcing the 3rd OT. Larry Coker elected to kick and the game went to a 3rd OT tied at 30.

The game would be over in 4 plays.

After a reverse to Sinorice Moss gained no yards, the Canes would call Tyrone Moss’ number again. And he delivered. Moss scampered over the right-side, outraced the defense to the sideline, and laid out over the pylon to score the TD that put Miami ahead for good. Wright threw incomplete on the 2-point conversion, but the Canes took a 36-30 lead.

Clemson would throw an incompletion, then Kenny Phillips intercepted Whitehurst, dropping to one knee, and flinging the ball into the air victoriously.

Miami 36, Clemson 30 in 3 overtimes.

Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfkv2hybh3s

Full Game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alukz8Pt44Y

Why is it Memorable?

This is one in a series of classic games the Canes and Tigers played. And the only one the Canes won. The previous year (2004) the Tigers won in OT, and in 2009, they would do so again.

But this game was about the late, great Tyrone Moss. The Miami offense didn’t do much. Wright made some clutch throws, but only threw for 155 yards. Moss was called upon to carry the load, and he did, carrying 31 times for 135 yards and 3 TDs, including 2 in OT. Moss was the Canes rope-a-dope on the day. He leaned on that Clemson defense all day, often stymied, but never defeated. And after wearing them down, he knocked them out in OT.

Kudos should also be paid to the Canes’ defense. For much of the game, Clemson really struggled to move the ball.

Speaking of Clemson, their role here should not be diminished. They could have gone away multiple times but didn’t, which turned this from a comfortable Miami win to a classic game.

The images of this game that live on years later are of Moss diving into the end zone, of the entire team celebrating victory, and of Tommy Bowden, exhausted from the game, going to a knee at midfield.

We all felt that way after this win, which ended in sweet relief.

The Aftermath

Miami would use this game to propel the season forward, culminating with the much more famous demolition of Virginia Tech in November, which propelled the Canes to the #3 ranking in the country. That game would also likely cost the Canes the season, as Tyrone Moss left with an injury.

That would ultimately be fleeting, as 2 weeks after that, they lost at home to Georgia Tech 14-10, costing them the ACC Coastal and a shot at a rematch with Florida State. The Canes would go to the Peach Bowl, where LSU would obliterate them. Most of the offensive staff was fired after that game, and Larry Coker was out a year later.

For Clemson, their close calls did not end here.  They would lose in OT the next week to Boston College, then lose by 4 to Wake Forest, before recovering to win 5 out of 6, with the loss coming by 1-point to Georgia Tech. Clemson would win their bowl game, and finish 9-4, with their losses either coming in OT or by a combined a 5 points.

Have memories of this game? Tweet us at @vrp2003 and @5ReasonsSports

 

Tua Tagovailoa Quarterback Tracker

Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, there is no player more polarizing than Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. And after a season that saw many fans screaming Tank For Tua!  The Dolphins are now in prime position to land the talented QB prospect. Yes, there are plenty of other potential QBs Miami could target at #5, #18, or #26–but Tua Tagovailoa is the one. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the future QB of the Miami Dolphins.

Biography

Born: March 2nd, 1998

Height: 6’0

Weight: 217 lbs.

Hometown: Ewa Beach, Hawaii

Nickname: The Left Arm of God

College Statistics

Latest News

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If you have any information that you think would be useful for this tracker, please reach out to me at @houtz.

And if you would like to purchase the official 5 Reasons Sports Tankovailoa shirt, click HERE

In Tagovailoa We Trust

Recollected Dozen, Game 4: 2004 Louisville @ Miami

This is part of a series on Canes football games that have been lost to history. Information on the series including other articles is available here

The Year

The year is 2004. President George W. Bush is in the final year of his first term as president. The week of September 29th, 2012 saw Goodies by Ciara featuring Petey Pablo top the Billboard Hot 100 list. And The Dark Tower by Stephen King was #1 on the New York Times fiction best seller list. Gas was $2.04 a gallon. The big news story was the recent concluded final presidential debate between Bush and John Kerry. The first debate was held on the campus of the University of Miami.

The Combatants

Miami entered the game at 4-0 and was ranked #3 in the country.

Louisville entered the game 4-0 and was ranked #17 in the country.

The Context

Miami had beaten FSU in OT to start the season and had rolled since then. There was very little doubt that this was a national title contender (that presumption turned out to be wrong as the season unfolded). The Canes, fresh off a “disappointing” Orange Bowl winning season that fell short of a National Championship, were looking to make amends. This was also the Canes first year in the ACC.

Louisville was in Conference USA, a conference that they were way too good for. No one was sure how good Louisville was, but this was the opportunity for them to test themselves. In the BCS Era, for Louisville, winning this game would allow them to attend a major bowl game.

The Canes were heavy favorites for this Thursday night clash in the Orange Bowl.

The Game

The game started as expected. The Canes forced a 3-and-out, with Louisville losing 15 yards. After a poor punt, the Canes drove inside the Louisville 5. But perhaps the first time there was an indication that this would not be a walk in the park came when the Canes were stuffed on 4th-and-1 and turned i t over on downs.

The Canes forced another punt, and this time cashed on on field position, with Greg Olsen catching a TD to put the Canes up 7-0.

On the next possession, Miami forced a 3rd-and-10, and then Louisville’s offense turned on like a light switch. They completed a pass of 14 yards to convert the 1st down, then followed that with plays of 10, 25, 24, and 1 yard for the TD to tie the game.

Miami then threw an interception, which allowed Louisville to hit a FG and take a 10-7 lead on the first play of the 2nd quarter.

After a 3-and-out, Louisville immediately marched 76 yards on 9 plays, including converting a 3rd-and-9 and a 3rd-and-7 for the TD that put Louisville up 17-7.

Keep in mind that there was very little confidence in the Canes’ offense, so a 10-point lead felt substantial. We knew this was a game.

And after a few punts, Louisville pushed the lead out further. The Cardinals once again converted multiple 3rd downs, including a 3rd-and-9 and a 3rd-and-3 for the TD that put Louisville up 24-7.

Heading into the half, Louisville was dominating. In addition to converting several 3rd downs, the Cardinals had outgained Miami 249-103. After the Canes TD to go up 7-0, their next 5 drives were -5, 3, 5, 18, and -1 yards.

The game did not feel over, but the Canes did look a bit helpless.

Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff of the 2nd half for a TD, igniting the crowd, bringing Miami back into the game…except it was called back on a penalty. But the Canes still built off of it. Berlin hit Roscoe Parrish for a critical conversion on 3rd-and-14. Then Quadtrine Hill took over, carrying on 4 of the next 6 plays to take the Canes inside the Louisville 15. Berlin hit Parrish for the TD on the next play to cut the lead to 24-14.

New half, new Miami. Louisville would surely crumble from here…except they did the opposite. After a holding penalty backed up the Cardinals into 3rd-and-19, they threw underneath for 10 yards. On 4th-and-9, the Cardinals faked a punt, and Lionel Gates ran for 39 yards. The Canes defense once again stepped up, forcing Louisville into a 3rd-and-12…but again couldn’t make the critical play. Stefan LeFors hit Tiger Jones for 22 yards and a TD that pushed the lead back out to 17.

But the Canes offense was now in rhythm, and responded back with another TD drive, this time on the strength of Berlin hitting Akieem Jolla twice, first for a critical 3rd down conversion and again for the TD to cut the lead to 10.

Now the Canes D stepped up, forcing a punt. Miami’s offense went 82 yards, but stalled inside the 5. Unlike earlier, where they went for it inside the 5, this time the Canes decided to kick the FG and cut the lead to a one-possession game at 31-24 at the start of the 4th quarter.

Then, it seemed like Louisville would finally crumble. LeFors fumbled on the next possession, and the Canes took over at the Louisville 22. LeFors was also injured on the play and Brian Brohm, a true freshman, would play out the rest of the game. But Louisville would not crumble, instead, forcing the Canes to 3rd-and-2, and stuffing Frank Gore for a 1-yard loss. Larry Coker decided to kick the FG, and the Canes were down 31-27.

Louisville converted one first down, but a penalty stymied them and they punted from the 37.

That punt lead to one of the iconic plays in Miami Hurricanes’ history, as Devin Hester took the punt back right past the Louisville coverage team, faked the punter out, and went to the end zone to put Miami up 34-31 with 8:11 left. Mike Tirico’s call of the return is perfect.

With the stadium rocking, the loss inevitable, and a backup QB in the game, certainly Louisville would finally go away. Instead they marched right back at the Canes, going 80 yards in 9 plays, scoring the TD with 4:35 left that put them up 38-34.

Hester, once again, was determinative. He returned the kickoff to the Miami 44, setting up a shorter field. After Berlin scrambled for 11 yards and threw 2 incompletions, the Canes converted a 3rd-and-10 by Lance Leggett making a catch for 26 yards. After the Canes ended up in 4th-and-4 at the 8, Berlin hit Darnell Jenkins for 5 yards, just getting the first down.

Tyrone Moss gained 2 yards and Frank Gore scored the TD with 53 seconds left to put the Canes up for good at 41-38.

Louisville was able to move the ball some, including getting out to midfield after gaining 18 yards on on 4th-and-4. But they ran out of times and downs, and with 5 seconds left, the Hail Mary came up short and Antrel Rolle intercepted to seal the game.

There was a minor kerfuffle as Louisville slammed Rolle down and there was some jawing, but Miami gratefully escaped with a win.

Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGeqZNlPidE

Full Game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL7bUo_pNoY

Why is it Memorable?

So many reasons. But I think we could argue this game is memorable, so I almost disqualified it from this series. Certainly the Hester punt return is.

But I don’t know that we remember this game as we should. For one, this game is as memorable for the losers as much as the winners. Most comebacks involve the losing team imploding, making mistakes. Louisville did the opposite.

The Canes kept coming, and the Cardinals kept responding.  When Hester delivered what seemed like the knockout blow, Louisville retook the lead.

Coming into this game, the Canes hadn’t even allowed a passing TD. Mike Tirico talked in the opener about how the Canes were targeting shutouts…and Louisville put up 38.

This game was distinct from a comeback like the UF 33-10 comeback in 2003 in that UF built that lead on the back of Canes’ errors, and once Miami got rolling, it was obvious that the Canes were superior. In this game, it felt like if Louisville had more time, they would have scored again. This game could have gone back-and-forth forever.

And what else can we say about Brock Berlin. His uncanny ability not just to lead comebacks, but to have the entire team believe in his ability to do so is something that has been lacking since. This game always felt alive because Brock Berlin was always able to win games.

Last but not least, this was the last great game in the Orange Bowl. In 2007, the Canes beat Texas A&M in a night game, but that was nothing like this. We didn’t know at the time that the Orange Bowl would be gone in 3 years. But when we look back at great nights in the OB, this was really the last one.

And Tirico added to the moment from start-to-finish. When the Canes came out of the tunnel, he opined about how it lacked luxury boxes but had so much more than that. And, as Hester took the punt into the end zone and ESPN prepared to break for commercial, Tirico’s off the cuff remark that “he takes it to the house, and what a house it is” captured the spirit of what the OB was.

Tirico, one of the transcendent voices of college football, didn’t know he was sending off the Old Girl, but he gave it a fitting tribute.

The Aftermath

This was actually a changeover for the Canes. Coming into this game, the narrative was that the Canes offense, and in particular Brock Berlin, were the problem and that the defense was one of the best in the country.

That changed with this game. This ended up being the only year that Randy Shannon did not have a Top 10 defense as Defensive Coordinator, and Brock Berlin ended up as one of the more respected QBs the Canes have had this century.

The Canes would stay undefeated for another week, beating NC State 45-31, but it was obvious that the defense was not up to standard. That cost the Canes the next game, in a 31-28 loss to UNC.

Miami ended up not winning the conference for the first time since 1999, but did recover to beat Florida in the Peach Bowl.

For Louisville, this game cost them a shot at a BCS bowl. They absolutely crushed everyone else they played, and then beat Boise State in the Liberty Bowl. But this loss prevented them from going to a better bowl game than that.

Have memories of this game? Tweet us at @vrp2003 and @5ReasonsSports

 

THE EXTRA YARD: What’s Real in Dolphins Rumors?

So, what are they doing now?

Trading up for Joe Burrow? Cool. Oh, staying put for Justin Herbert? Nice. (Not really) Oh, I got it. They are trading up to #3 for Tua Tagovailoa. Nah. A trade down for Jordan Love is likely. Makes some sense.

Confused yet? I’m not. What has happened this offseason with the approximately 1,764 different scenarios concerning the Miami Dolphins and their Quarterback position, is nothing short of hilarious.

Now that “Dolphin Targets” Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford are settled in, we are left with the draft prospects to speculate about. No other story has gotten as much traction as that of the possible “interest” in trading up for Joe Burrow at #1. It has made the rounds from the pages of the Miami Herald, to debate fodder on First Take and Undisputed, to whole segments on ESPN Sportscenter and the NFL Network.

 

So what’s true? Our own Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) of the Three Yards Per Carry Podcast reports that he has been told there is merit to these reports. So who is driving this? Well, let’s examine. First of all, we were told that there was a plan in place when the team was shedding salary and trading standouts Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick for several 1st round picks. We know that the plan COULD NOT have been to use the assets gained, to secure LSU star Joe Burrow since he had not yet embarked on his historic season at the time, and was little more than a 3rd day draft pick by most analysts. No front office is good enough to foresee what Burrow did in 2019.

So, was the plan at the time to secure the assets necessary to land Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa? That is the most likely scenario, considering what Tua’s standing with draft analysts was at the time. He was a near unanimous #1 prospect at QB. So what does the hard evidence tell us? We know they liked Justin Herbert enough to devote considerable resources to scout him for two years. Same goes for Jordan Love.

As for Tua Tagovailoa, the talk has been plentiful, and Dolphins brass always seemed to find it’s way to watching Crimson Tide games in person, while many other alternatives that included Herbert and Love were available. So all this Joe Burrow love is headed by ownership (Stephen Ross)? Maybe. We do know this front office is tight lipped and Head Coach Brian Flores is not the leaky and gossipy type. So if ownership wants him, then it’s over, they will act on it, right? No. Not that easy. The Bengals still have to trade him to you.

You can get this article ready for @OldTakesExposed and be prepared to laugh at every word I wrote in here if they do in fact trade up to #1, because I’m calling BS.

My partner on 3YPC, Simon Clancy (@siclancy), said it best. “It’s arrogant to assume that you just wave 3 first round picks in the Bengals face and they are just gonna give you Joe Burrow.” He’s gonna be a Bengal folks. He is from the area. His girlfriend is from the area. He was recruited to Ohio State originally. He is a relatively clean prospect who just had a historic season. He fits the offense. Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor also coached Justin Herbert at the senior bowl, and the talk was that he was “enamored” with him. So the Dolphins got to trade what? 5 first round picks? To move up for a guy that Cincinnati might not take? (Herbert smokescreen) They are not doing that. They are NOT trading up to #1. The Bengals won’t trade the pick, and the Dolphins won’t part with the necessary ammunition to get Joe Burrow. Forget the smoke. There will be no fire.

 

So what’s real? Not much. At this time of year, teams go into a shell, and the real decision makers are not leaking to beat writers, although ownership very well, may. Agents are working the “refs” (the media), and leaking favorable info themselves, while playing PR agent for their guy. The truth is likely this: Nothing has changed. The more time goes by, speculation feeds on itself and narratives develop. One guy in a position of some clout, says something, goes on the record, and a story is born.

The story in and of itself is real, accurately relayed to the public from real and good sources, but in the end, it’s speculation from the source, since too many moving parts are required for the story to become reality. What is real is what we have been following all these many months. The Bengals will take Burrow at #1, and the watch will be on for who trades up for Tua Tagovailoa, and what the real projection is from NFL teams concerning Justin Herbert. There is your drama. There is your intrigue. It’s Tua vs. Herbert. Not Dolphins assets vs. Bengals desire.

 

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

Recollected Dozen, Game 5: 2012 NC State @ Miami

This is part of a series on Canes football games that have been lost to history. Information on the series including other articles is available here

The Year

The year is 2012. President Barack Obama is in the final year of his first term as president. The week of September 29th, 2012 saw One More Night by Maroon 5 top the Billboard Hot 100 list. And A Wanted Man by Lee Child was #1 on the New York Times fiction best seller list. Gas was $3.82 a gallon. The top international news stories involved civil wars in Somalia and Syria.

The Combatants

Miami came into the game at 3-1, with the loss being a blowout to Kansas State.

NC State also came into the game at 3-1, with their loss being a 2 TD loss against Tennessee.

The Context

It was still young in the season, and both teams were trying to find themselves. Miami came into this game having just played an OT classic against Georgia Tech the previous week. No one really knew what to think of Al Golden’s team at this point, but we were pretty sure the defense wasn’t good.

For NC State, they had a big time QB in Mike Glennon, and the questions were around Tom O’Brien. No one really expected NC State to compete for the division with FSU and Clemson.

The Game

No one played defense. At all.

And it was a sloppy, poorly played mess.

The game somehow started with 3 consecutive punts, but that was not representative of where this game was heading.

On their 2nd possession of the game, NC State went 68 yards, with chunk plays of 28 yards and 43 yards (through the air and ground) setting up a 1-yard TD run.

The Canes came right back, going 75 yards in 3 plays after Stephen Morris hit Rashawn Scott for 52 yards, Phillip Dorsett for 5 yards, and Allen Hurns who made a great catch in the end zone from 14 yards out to tie the game at 7.

The Wolfpack’s first of many implosions came on the next drive, after a horrible kick return and a penalty, they started on their own 8, and promptly snapped the ball over Glennon’s head. Glennon was tackled out of the back of the end zone retrieving the ball, and the Canes took a 9-7 lead.

It took the Canes just 5 plays to go up 16-7, with Morris hitting Hurns for 40 yards and Dorsett for the 24-yard TD. NC State could not cover the Canes WRs. And after Miami forced another punt (which Dorsett returned for a TD, but was called back on a block in the back), that would prove true again as Morris hit Scott for a 76-yard TD on 3rd-and-2 to put the Canes up 23-7, still in the 1st quarter.

At this point, it looked like the Canes were going to roll to a win, but the slop-fest was just getting started.

The Wolfpack wasted a 50-yard kickoff return to the Miami 44, when 4 plays later, inside the Canes 25, they fumbled and AJ Highsmith recovered. The Canes marched on another drive, moving inside the NC State 5-yard line. On 1st-and-goal from the 2, and with the Canes threatening to go up 30-7, Morris threw an interception with 15 seconds left in the quarter on a play where Clive Walford was wide open and the ball was thrown high, which turned a TD into a touchback.

On the last play of the quarter, Glennon hit Quintin Payton for 73 yards to the Canes 7, mercifully ending an insane quarter. One play into the 2nd quarter, Glennon connected with Tony Creecy for a TD to cut the lead to 9 when the Canes were 2 yards away from making the margin 23 just 20 seconds prior.

With the game at 23-14, and after a rare Miami punt, there is no other way to describe the next series of possessions other than stupid.

-NC State fumbled after one play, and the Canes recovered on the Wolfpack 16.

-After failing to punch the ball after advancing to 1st-and-goal at the NC State 4, which included a fake FG conversion, Jake Wieclaw missed a 19-yard FG.

-NC State strung together a nice drive, moving all the way to the Miami 9. Tobais Palmer caught a pass underneath, and was crossing the first down marker, seemingly destined for the end zone when Brandon McGee just took the ball from him in one motion and returned it to the Canes’ 28, with a personal foul on NC State tacking on another 15 yards, flipping the field position.

-Miami went 3-and-out and punted.

-NC State fumbled again, this time on their own 29, and the Canes recovered.

-Wieclaw missed another FG, this time from 41 yards out.

The game went into the half that way, with Miami up 23-14. Miraculously, NC State fumbled 3 times, entered the Canes red zone, and the Canes had 2 easy FGs in a total of 6 possessions, and yet no one scored.

NC State would fix the scoring drought on the 1st drive of the 3rd quarter. In a game that was conditioned by repeated big plays, NC State finally put together a long drive, but it was, of course, aided by a huge Miami mistake. The Canes actually forced a 3-and-out, giving up 9 yards on 3 plays. But when NC State punted, the Canes ran into the kicker, giving the Wolfpack the first down. From there, NC State marched down the field, culminating in a TD pass on 3rd and goal from the Miami 4 to make the score 23-21. The Wolfpack had eaten up 6:46 off the clock.

After both teams exchanged punts, the game went absolutely crazy again.

-The Canes went 90-yards for a TD, with the big play being a 40-yard completion to Phillip Dorsett. There was another 1st down mistake-aid when NC State jumped offside when the Canes were facing 4th-and-2 at the NC State 7 and attempting a FG. Duke Johnson scored on the next play.

-NC State made another kickoff mistake and started at their own 3. But that just delayed the inevitable as they put together a 97-yard TD drive which included multiple 4th-down conversions, the last of which being Mike Glennon hitting Bryan Underwood for 28 yards and a TD. This should have brought the Wolfpack to within 2, but of course, another screw-up was around the corner and they missed the XP. So the score remained 30-27.

-It took the Canes 7 plays to score their next TD, with the big play being a Dorsett catch of 46 yards. Scott ended up catching the 13-yard TD after the ball bounced off an NC State defender’s face mask (cause why not?) and Miami lead 37-27.

-But NC State only needed 6 plays to pull back within 3, and with  5:35 left in the game, the Canes were clinging to a 37-34 lead.

The teams had exchanged 4 consecutive TDs and racked up 341 yards on those possessions, with the only blinking being that NC State missed an XP so the Canes had gained a point in that back-and-forth. That point would prove critical.

Stephen Morris wasn’t done with big throws, hitting Davon Johnson for 41 yards. But the drive stalled and once again Jake Wieclaw missed, this time from 43 yards out.

NC State now had the ball with just under 4 minutes left and a chance to go in front. They promptly drove into Canes territory, but a false start short-circuited the drive. They did, however, hit a 50-yard FG to tie the game at 37.

With a chance to win the game, Morris connected on consecutive passes totaling 35 yards to take the Canes to the NC State 40. But the drive actually stalled, and for the first time in 8 possessions, a team punted. And the punt was perfect, as Dalton Botts dropped it down at the NC State 4.

There was 1:03 left. NC State had an obvious kicking game advantage, and were at their own 4. The prudent thing to do would be to run the clock out and go to OT. And they actually tried, but the Canes defense was so bad, they couldn’t actually stop the run and Shadrach Thornton busted free for 17 yards. Now, with the ball at their own 21, with 55 seconds left, and with a kicker who had just nailed a 50-yard FG, the Wolfpack decided to attack…and Mike Glennon threw an interception on a deep ball which Thomas Finnie easily caught after QB-WR miscommunication.

There were only 48 seconds left, but the Canes did have the ball on their own 39. 2 plays netted -1 yards. The second play, an attempted run that lost yard, resulted in boos reigning down from the stands. On 3rd-and-11, Morris went for broke, eluding several tacklers, dropping back to his 30, and just letting rip deep to Dorsett who collected it and galloped into the end zone for a 68-yard TD that put the Canes ahead 44-37 with 19 seconds left.

There were only 19 seconds left, but NC State somehow managed to screw up 2 more things. They messed up the kickoff and started from their own 3, and then after gaining 20 yards, Mike Glennon threw an INT on the game’s last play, as AJ Highsmith grabbed it and the Canes somehow came out with a 44-37 victory.

Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GMIbuNjs88

First Half: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOvLRvwWakE

Second Half: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oUBL0YAvF0

Why is it Memorable?

Holy Crap. First, the Dorsett play is famous, but how we got there is insane.

This game was an offensive explosion and just a series of mistakes.

NC State had 664 yards. But they also had 14 penalties for 100 yards and 6 turnovers, including 4 fumbles, and missed an XP.

For the Canes part, they only had the 1 turnover, but missed 3 FGs.

Miami racked up 651 yards, Stephen Morris set a school record with 566 passing yards. He also threw 5 TDs, which was tied for a school record until Jarren Williams broke it in 2019 against Louisville. Phillip Dorsett (191 yards, 2 TDs) and Rashawn Scott (180 yards, 2 TDs) combined for 371 yards and 4 TDs.

NC State multiple times messed up kickoffs and started at their own 3-yard line. Miami’s defense was so bad it benefited from not being able to stop the run because NC State accidentally gained too many yards trying to run the clock out and force OT, which convinced them to try and score in regulation, forcing the turnover that led to the Canes’ winning TD.

Miami should have easily gone up 30-7 in the 1st quarter, but Morris threw high to a wide open Walford and gifted the Wolfpack an Interception. Both teams made penalties on punt/FG plays by jumping offsides ultimately keeping drives alive that went for TDs.

The game was as exciting as it was poorly played. It appeared to be 2 talented yet bad teams (and it was).

The way the game ended probably provides the best summation of this game. With the clock not running, NC State false started. Al Golden, fist in the air, charges out onto the field, confusing the official who thought Golden must know the rule and announces that the penalty requires a 10-second runoff (it does not). Tom O’Brien concurred and shook Golden’s hand, only for the line judge to come in and correct everyone…all of which enabled NC State to turn the ball over again.

This was the quintessential Al Golden game. Terrible defense, massive confusion, mistakes, not understanding the rules of football at times, exciting play makers on offense that can explode, and just overall exciting but low quality.

The Aftermath

Since we actually covered the previous game in this season, we already covered how this season ended for Miami. But this was a game where they gave up over 600 yards and won. It confirmed that the defense was horrible. The Canes went 7-5 this year, and won 3 games where they gave up 36, 37, and 45 points…and managed to lose a game where they scored 40.

That Al Golden pretending that this defense was ever going to turn around is just ridiculous. But it is also a fatal flaw in his approach, opting for conservatism versus aggression, trying to rope-a-dope opponents for a team and school that thrives on aggression and knockout blows. Yes, D’Onofrio was a horrible DC, and proved so again at Houston. But that is almost a footnote. As this game proved, even in victory, Golden was just never going to do anything. There is no way to fix the defense when the head coach’s philosophy is just wrong.

So, even in victory, we saw how untenable the approach was. And a week later, everything came crashing down to earth as ND beat the Canes by 38 kicking off a 3-game losing streak

For NC State, they recovered and immediately won against Florida State the next game, handing FSU their only conference loss. It was part of an up-and-down season for the Wolfpack, who would also play Clemson well, but lose to UVA and UNC.

Have memories of this game? Tweet us at @vrp2003 and @5ReasonsSports

 

Recollected Dozen, Game 6: 1991 Miami @ Boston College

This is part of a series on Canes football games that have been lost to history. Information on the series including other articles is available here

The Year

The year is 1991. President George H.W. Bush is in the 3rd year of his presidency. The week of November 23rd, 1991 saw When a Man Loves a Woman by Michael Bolton top the Billboard Hot 100 list. And Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley was #1 on the New York Times fiction best seller list. Gas was $1.11 a gallon. The top news story was Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis. Freddie Mercury would pass away from AIDS the day after this game and announced he had AIDS on this day.

The Combatants

Miami came into the game at 10-0 overall and ranked #1 in the country.

Boston College was 4-6. This was their last game of the season.

The Context

This game was about Miami. The Canes were the number one team in the country, and coming in off a thrilling 17-16 win over a Florida State, a game known as “Wide Right I.” Miami had San Diego State at home the following week, then the Orange Bowl between them and a 4th National Championship.

Boston College was in their first year under head coach Tom Coughlin. They had struggled record-wise, but out of their 6 losses, 4 were to ranked teams.

Miami was favored by 20-25 points depending on the bookmaker, and was expected to blow threw Boston College.

The Game

The game started as expected. Michael Barrow intercepted the ball on BC’s first possession, and a few plays later, Gino Torretta hit Coleman Bell in the back of the end zone for a TD. The Canes failed to convert the Extra Point, when the snap was fumbled and Carlos Huerta picked it up and tried to do a drop kick. The lead was 6-0.

BC immediately responded. The Eagles converted a critical 3rd-and-9 on their own half of the field (which came after a 2nd-and-19 after a holding penalty) to get deep into Canes’ territory. After a few runs, BC QB Glenn Foley hit TE Mark Chmura for the go-ahead TD as BC took the lead 7-6.

The Canes came right back, this time for a FG and took the lead back at 9-7.

After several punts were exchanged, BC drove to the Canes’ 1 yard line, but fumbled on a pitch that the Canes recovered. 2 drives later, the Canes would extend their lead. Martin Patton was the big hitter for the Canes, in place of Stephen McGuire, who had been injured earlier in the game. Patton had big runs and receptions to help lead the Canes inside the BC 20. On 1st-and-goal from the 2, Patton finished the drive with a TD.

The half ended with a Ryan McNeil interception on a Hail Mary and the Canes took a 9-point lead into the half, tracking to cover the spread.

The second half saw both teams struggle offensively. BC had one decent drive into Miami territory, but couldn’t cash it in. Miami returned the favor getting stuffed on 3rd-and-1 just across midfield and had to punt.

Finally, BC put together a drive late in the 3rd quarter. On 2nd-and-17 from the Canes 20, BC QB Glenn Foley evaded a rusher and threw across his body to the corner of the end zone for a diving TD that cut the lead to 16-14.

At the start of the 4th quarter, the Canes had the ball near midfield after gaining only 4 yards in the 3rd quarter. Going for it on 4th and inches. Patton looked to be stopped short, but his second and third efforts earned the first down. On 2nd-and-10, on the edge of FG range, Gino Torretta eluded multiple rushers, spun out of a tackle, and flipped to Patton for a huge gain inside the BC 20…but it was wiped out by a penalty so the Canes had to punt, which they did for a touchback.

After another BC punt, the Canes took the ball into BC territory with Patton and Kevin Williams making key plays. The Canes’ drive stalled at the BC 21, but Carlos Huerta hit the FG to put the Canes up 19-14 with 5:22 left.

The Canes D forced a 3-and-out and the offense tried to run the clock out and ice the game. A huge run by Patton was wiped out by a holding penalty. On 3rd and long, Torretta hit Lamar Thomas for a 1st down, as Thomas tiptoed on the sideline past the marker, at the Canes 45. But the officials completely blew the spot and marked him a yard short (there was no replay). Dennis Erickson made a gutsy (possibly crazy) decision to go for it. Not converting would have given BC an opportunity to score the winning TD on a short field. But Larry Jones did convert. The Canes then converted another 1st down and with a running clock, and 1:40 left, the game appeared over with the Canes inside the BC 40.

But inexplicably, the Canes threw on 2nd down, which stopped the clock. On 3rd and long, the Canes had the perfect play call. They threw a screen pass to Patton, which Torretta timed perfectly, but as Patton cut back for the first down, he fumbled. BC recovered and with 1:20 left, they were somehow still in the game.

Foley immediately hit Chmura to the BC 45 with about a minute left. On 3rd and long, Foley rolled out and threw another strike to the Canes 25-yard line. Here, Michael Barrow and Kevin Patrick combined for the play of the game. With BC out of timeouts, Barrow flushed Foley, and Patrick sacked him at the BC 40. The clock wound down, and BC was only able to snap it with 9 seconds left, when BC false started. In modern football, this would result in a 10-second runoff and the game ending. But BC was able to line up and snap it after the ball was reset. They snapped it with 2 seconds left, and threw an unsuccessful Hail Mary.

The Canes won 19-14 to survive.

Full Game (no huddle): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGuOktEvkZM

Why is it Memorable?

How is it not? This Miami played 3 one-possession games in 1991. One is the Penn State game, another is Wide Right I, and the 3rd is this.

It’s eerie how similar this game is to the much more famous 2001 BC game that ended with the iconic Mike Rumph to Matt Walters to Ed Reed TD. Both games involve Miami not playing well, but seemingly doing enough to just stay ahead. Both involve the Canes hanging onto a 5-point lead late in the game. Both involve the Canes offense, which had struggled most of the game, putting together a methodical drive that seemed destined to end the game with a victory. Instead, it was the backup RB, in the game because of an injury, who fumbled at a critical time to breathe new life into BC. The Eagles then moved into scoring range with plenty of time to spare, only for the Canes’ D to step up with one last, big play and end the game.

Martin Patton is a forgotten name when Canes’ RBs are discussed, but this win, and with it a National Championship, don’t happen without him.

We also must remember how recent the “Hail Flutie” miracle was at this point. And as the Hail Mary floated towards the end zone, all of the Canes Family watched in horror with fear of a repeat.

The context of this game informs its stature as hidden. The week before was Wide Right I. After it, the Canes would demolish San Diego State and then easily win the Orange Bowl. Because there were no other competitive games after this, and because the stature of the Florida State game is so big, the narrative after the fact has been that the title was won in Tallahassee.

But this game also paved the way for the Canes to win the National Championship, and should really be remembered more fondly.

The Aftermath

Let’s dispense with BC first. This game was actually seen as a turning point for the BC program. Coughlin would turn them into a winner starting in the next season, and would obviously go on to great success in the NFL.

For the Canes, this was the last test in a National Championship season. For whatever reason, this National Championship is probably the most overlooked for Miami. Perhaps because it was book-ended by two famous bowl seasons, the infamous Texas Cotton Bowl and losing the 1992 National Championship to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Perhaps because it was a split title with Washington.

The 2001 team is considered the greatest team in College Football history. But the 1991 team is not far off. They rolled through almost all competition. They had only 3 games decided by one possession, with this game being one of them.

The 1991 team also featured a Heisman Trophy QB (he would win it the following year), NFL players all over the team, and the best LB corps in college football history. No one was going into the Orange Bowl and beating this team, so this was truly the last test, and one they passed.

Miami would drill Nebraska in the bowl game to win a share of the National Championship. The only disappointment was that they did not get a chance to play Washington and claim sole ownership of the title. The next year, the Canes would go undefeated again before losing the bowl game to Alabama.

This 1991 Championship is the last the Canes would win for a decade, making this win even more important in hindsight.

Have memories of this game? Tweet us at @vrp2003 and @5ReasonsSports

 

Miami Dolphins shouldn’t risk future for Joe Burrow

By now you’ve probably heard about a potential proposed trade between the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. Miami wants to try to trade with Cincinnati for the top pick in next month’s draft. It is pretty clear that they are trying to make a push for the LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. However, would that be the right move?

We have seen the Miami Dolphins accrue assets over the last year or so, and build their team in free agency. They are in a very good spot right now in terms of their roster. Sure, there are holes that need to be filled. However, they are in a better spot right now than they were a year ago. When you really think about the prospect of the Cincinnati trading away their chance at a potential franchise quarterback, it seems highly unlikely. For now, anything is on the table.

Do I think the Miami Dolphins should make a push for Joe Burrow? My answer is a little bit complicated. First, I’ll go on the record and say that I believe he is a better quarterback than Tua Tagovailoa. I believed that before Tua suffered his unfortunate injury, and I still believe it now.

The Miami Dolphins should stay put on potential trade

In terms of logistics however, the Dolphins would be wise to stay put. Should an opportunity for this trade arise, I wouldn’t do it.

Miami has a ton of draft capital this year. they have the fifth overall pick, the 18th overall pick, and the 26th overall pick. For a franchise looking to build, that’s a lot of capital to rebuild a team with. Miami would probably have to give up those assets in order to acquire the LSU star.

Cincinnati would undoubtedly want a king’s ransom in return. I wouldn’t blame them.

This draft is particularly deep with talent this year, and Miami would have a ton of opportunities to grab impact players. It doesn’t make sense to sacrifice a chance at significantly rebuilding an organization, in one draft, for one quarterback. It’s tempting, it really truly is.

Burrow is an extremely good signal caller. However, my sticking point is what it would take to get him. Miami would be wise to just let this draft play out, and use the picks they have.  Leveraging them all for one player would not be worth it. Burrow seems like a sure thing, but it would be wise to not mortgage the future.