Was that the most talented quarterback Miami will face all year? Perhaps, though the Hurricanes’ next opponent, Duke, will put Daniel Jones up against anyone.
In a 52-30 win at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami held Toledo’s Logan Woodside largely in check — if you can believe it — given what he usually does.
Woodside, considered an NFL prospect, threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, seemingly a torch job on the Hurricanes’ defense. UM hadn’t given up that many yards through the air since a similar game in 2014: a 55-43 win at home over a mid-major opponent (Cincinnati) and a quarterback (Gunner Kiel) used to shootouts.
But before your mind jumps to how Miami finished that year (6-7), note that Woodside didn’t exactly take Miami to the woodshed.
* The redshirt senior produced his worst passer rating (138.81) since 2014, when he was a sophomore learning the ropes. Woodside was second in FBS in that stat last year (183.34).
* He completed 58.3 percent of his passes against UM, his lowest since a loss to 12th-ranked Western Michigan last Nov. 25 and his seventh-lowest rate in three seasons as Toledo’s starter (2014, 2016-17).
* Woodside, who led the country in touchdowns (45) last year, hit Miami for three. That was after a school-record six the previous week against Tulsa. Woodside threw for three scores in every game last year except one.
* The Canes held the Rockets to 30 points. Toledo was held under 30 twice last year, and five times in Woodside’s career as a starter.
* Toledo achieved little of note on the ground (35 carries for 85 yards; 2.4 per carry). In the second half, Toledo gained a net 2 yards on 11 carries.
Judging by the comments made on social media, like those during our Facebook Live recap show, some Canes fans are unhappy with Miami’s defense after a 30-point outing against a MAC team and a 13-point day against an FCS foe (Bethune-Cookman). Criticism is more than fair, especially given the standard UM set for itself.
Through two games, UM ranks 45th in yards per play allowed, 58th in opponent passer rating and 29th in yards per carry allowed. Perhaps more concerning: the Hurricanes haven’t solved their penalty problems (112th in yards per game).
Without question, some part of UM’s sloppiness Saturday can be attributed to its 21-day break between games because of Hurricane Irma, and the related issues from fleeing the storm for two weeks. Toledo was playing its regular schedule, cooking along, while UM players hadn’t had home cooking or slept in their own beds for a while.
“We were having a hard time in the second quarter putting 11 functioning defensive football players on the field because of getting back to the conditioning level of being able to play in a game,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We couldn’t think straight. We couldn’t play a base coverage. We couldn’t do anything there probably for the second quarter. A lot of that was self-inflicted because we were staying on the field on third downs.”
In its 16-point second quarter, Toledo converted on 8-of-10 third downs, gained 186 total yards and averaged 6.4 yards per play. It could have been worse had UM not held the Rockets to three field goals.
“That’s really the hardest part, when there’s a guy who’s out there that you know is struggling and you don’t have a guy to really replace him with,” Diaz said, noting that UM has 11 scholarship defensive backs, when he would like 16. “That’s where we felt like we were holding on in the second quarter.”
Diaz said he wanted to play a nickel (five defensive backs) defense in the fourth quarter, when Toledo scored a pair of passing touchdowns to pull as close as 38-30, but insinuated his secondary was too tired.
Regardless of UM’s conditioning, it was troubling to see cornerbacks like Dee Delaney — the grad transfer whom coaches believed could be UM’s No. 1 corner — and Michael Jackson beat cleanly on several plays. Those players and many others must improve if the Canes are to live up to preseason expectations and win the ACC Coastal.
But credit the Canes for how they made halftime adjustments Saturday against a potent offense. The front seven didn’t ruin Woodside’s day, but sacked him four times and often pressured him into second and third reads.
“If he has the time to throw it, it’s going to be on the money,” linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. “Our whole emphasis was to get him off the first look. When he got off the first look, he was ours.”
A good offense also helps, and Miami outscored Toledo 42-14 in the second half.
“It’s hard to stop a team that believes in themselves,” UM quarterback Malik Rosier said. “We showed in the second half we can be an explosive team that at any second we can drive down the field and score. … When we started putting up points, we could really tell those guys were losing confidence.”
The Hurricanes should be well rested on a short week for Friday’s game at Duke (7 p.m., ESPN). The Blue Devils (4-0) have hosted FCS North Carolina Central, Northwestern, Baylor and last week won 27-17 at struggling North Carolina (1-3).
Going by yards per play, Duke ranks 95th offensively and 21st defensively. Jones, a sophomore, is off to a slow start (ninth in the ACC in passer rating) and has had a pair of sub-par games (55 percent passing, 386 yards, one touchdown, one interception).
Diaz feels his defense, especially a secondary replacing four NFL-bound starters, may have found a spark Saturday.
“It’s hard to play football when you haven’t played in three straight weeks. And for those guys to go out and completely take over in the third quarter is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen from the sideline,” Diaz said.
“Down the road I think we’re really gonna look back on and see this was a good win to get our season going.”
According to Quarterman, the game was never in doubt.
“I thought they thought they were going to shock the world, and by half time I guess they thought they did. Little did they know, we don’t ever give up, we don’t stop until it hits 0:00 in the fourth quarter.”