September 17, 2009
Miami 33, Georgia Tech 17. Florida State was the introduction, tonight was the confirmation: Miami has an offense. An entire offense, finally, worthy of the recruiting rankings -- the line, the big-play receivers, a couple workhorse running backs. And, most obviously, a quarterback. We thought all of that after last week; now we know.
There's a lot of credit to go around -- coordinator Mark Whipple has revived a totally moribund scheme under Patrick Nix, largely by producing the 'Canes' first functional offensive line in years -- but there's no way to minimize Jacory Harris' emergence as the best quarterback in the ACC. There's not really any competition right now: As well-protected as he was against a Tech front that terrorized Clemson last Thursday, Harris still was exceptionally comfortable, aware and accurate to receivers who were mostly wide open and -- this is a big deal for Miami receivers, given their recent history -- held on to almost every ball. In two games, Harris is hitting 70 percent of his passes for 11 yards per attempt and 16 per completion, with dangerous/suddenly reliable targets all over the place, a sublimely ridiculous buzzcut and an as yet unflappable presence in the pocket; already, it looks very easy for him. The 'Cane defense also brought it, a vast improvement both from last year's humiliation at Tech and the season-opening shootout at FSU, for good measure.
Well, we think we know; as confident, athletic and swagger-ly as Da U has looked in its first half of its ludicrous September gauntlet, the next two, at Virginia Tech and back home against Oklahoma, are even more vicious litmus tests, against defenses more than willing and able to crush the good vibes underfoot. That possibility hasn't changed. What has, though, is the possibility that Miami could be the best team on the field in either of those games, with the better quarterback (depending on Sam Bradford's status for the Sooners' trip) and more viable options on offense.That hasn't been true for the 'Canes in big games for years, but again, this young bunch looks like it's going to go a long, long way here.