It took a month, but the Hoos finally got back in the win column with a 30-13 win over the Hurricanes. They did it by finally going back to what had been working early in the season. Mostly, this was about running the football. It was about not asking Greyson Lambert to win the football games, only not to lose it.
This week's game was also about forcing turnovers. But turnovers are highly reliant on luck. Forcing fumbles is a skill. Recovering fumbles is luck. The ball bounces in funny ways. The Hoos forced 3 TOs against FSU, and still lost going away. They forced 2 fumbles against UNC but couldn't recover either. If one of those fumbles becomes a turnover, perhaps that game is a win. But then again, if Lambert hadn't been asked to throw 40 passes, maybe the fumbles wouldn't have mattered. Maybe UNC would've run out of time before completing their comeback.
After the first couple of drives, it didn't look like this was going to be the Hoos' day. The first drive ended, not surprisingly, on a screen pass that didn't work. Third and 6, and Steve Fairchild calls a screen. Anybody think Miami knew it was coming? Memo to Coach Fairchild: Screens really only work when the other teams don't know it's coming.
Once Miami got on board on a long pass, it seemed like more of the same. The Hoos offense can't get out of its own way and the defense gives up big plays.
And then this happened:
Holy crap, what a catch! That's the play of the season so far.
In the 2nd half, Greyson Lambert was 0-3 with an INT. And the Hoos ran 23 times for 128 yards. That is how you play with a lead. It is also how you play with a young, inexperienced QB. Against UNC, with a similar lead, the Hoos called no less than 11 passes. Two of which were completed. And 2 were intercepted. I'd bet that if the Hoos called 3 passes, rather than 11, they win that game.
Back after an extended hiatus, random notes from this week's game:
- It's really great to see Canaan Severin having a big year. Coming into the season, he was an afterthought in a deep WR corps. Keeon Johnson and Kyle Dockins were getting all the hype, but they've both been disappointing as sophomores. Severin currently leads the team in catches, TDs, and ESPN Top Ten plays. Darius Jennings and Miles Gooch have been perhaps the most consistent WRs, but Severin has been a pleasant surprise all year long and should enter next year and the unquestioned top option at WR.
- Can't say enough about what a job Khalek Shepherd did after Parks left with an injury. Shepherd had a couple of big gains, but also did the dirty work, running between the tackles and picking up some key first downs.
- Similarly, the OL was great. They've been much maligned, and perhaps rightly so. But they did a very good job against a solid Miami front 7 and opened up enough holes for Shepherd and Co. to win the game.
- Maurice Canady has turned into a great CB. He forced a fumble, recovered the block kick and he is tied for the team lead in INTs and passes defensed. But he simply has to score on that FG return. Clive Walford did a great job of hustling back and stopping him. But with the blockers he had in front of him, he needs to be able to score there.
- Quin Blanding has been as good as advertized, and then some. He's leading the team in tackles, tied for the team lead in INTs. And he's a true freshman. It seems like I say this every year, and it doesn't work out, but the defensive secondary next season could be scary good.
- The defense is going to badly miss Henry Coley and Daquan Romero next year. Even though Coley's production has dropped off a bit after his hot start to the season, he's still the heart and soul of the defense. And Romero might be the best all-around player on the defense. Replacing those two will be the biggest job for Jon Tenuta (or whoever might be DC next year).
- Huge win for the team, and for Mike London. Now we move on to Tech and Mike London has one more chance to save his season and his coaching career.