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Miami Loses By Way of Offensive Inefficiency, Not Defense

I tuned in to watch the fireworks from Cincinnati on Thursday night. Good, solid offenses from both Miami (FL) and the Bearcats meeting with what appeared from previous porous defensive performances by each team to be a modicum of resistance.

That’s a formula for entertaining television, no? I mean, even the “wiseguys” had the over/under at 65.5. My popcorn maker was working overtime in anticipation.

Little did I, nor anyone else for that matter, suspect that the second half would turn out to be 30 minutes of fizzle and no pop. The two high-powered offenses, averaging 86 points per game between them (44 Cats; 42 Canes) combined for a grand total of one touchdown over the final two periods.

A seven-yard scoring strike from Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore, who was making his first career start, to Tyler Cogswell; a major cog (see what I did there? Think Jetsons) in Cincinnati’s attack.

Add in a field goal, a 26-yarder by Michael Badgley, Miami’s accurate yet overworked kicker, and you have the extent of the scoring through the third and fourth quarters. Actually, both scoring plays occurred in the fourth quarter. Zero is what the scoreboard read for both sides in the third quarter.

Badgley exemplified the Canes’ futility in the red zone with five field goals in their previous game against Nebraska, and was called upon twice more in five trips on Thursday. Although it was somewhat encouraging that the Canes did find paydirt on two other first-half red zone ventures.

But the second half was a disappointment to say the least. Had you chosen to turn in early, Dreamland would have provided better entertainment. Those of us, who chose to fight off the sandman after a highly-entertaining 27-20 game at halftime, wish we hadn’t. I’m told by reliable sources in the medical field that you can never make up for lost sleep. To this day I still wonder if that’s true.

In fact, during the final 30 minutes of Thursday’s game, my mind went wondering about a lot of things – especially over the first 18 minutes of it when the scoreboard remained untouched and both offenses went numb. I wondered why I hadn’t.

Even Miami head coach Al Golden struggled for answers following the disappointing 34-23 loss, Miami’s first of the season against three victories.

“We have to execute better,” Golden said in the post-game press conference. “There are a million different things that we are working on and I thought we had a really good plan coming in but we didn’t execute it well enough, and certainly not early on. The problem there is the short yardage ones. We didn’t finish the game in the short yardage last week, we left that open, and we had a chance to close twice tonight but they converted on short yardage in this game. ”

But let me throw in a couple of positives before we wrap this game up in a hefty bag and leave it at the end of the driveway for the sanitation department. Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya’s performance wasn’t trash. Although his streak of 16 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass was snapped, Kaaya continued to develop both as a passer and a leader on the field. He completed passes to 10 different receivers totaling 255 yards (24-for-39) and no interceptions. In fact, he’s only thrown four picks in his last 342 attempts.

And sophomore running back Joe Yearby registered his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game. He finished with 113 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.

And the Canes can build on the fact that at full strength in the second half, their defense allowed just one touchdown and six first downs. Safeties Deon Bush and Jamal Carter both sat out the first half because of targeting penalties late in the Nebraska game. Miami’s defense yielded just 72 yards passing in the second half.

Well, it’s something, anyway.

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