Made it to the Orange Bowl in time to see pregame warm-ups. I noticed Tech’s heralded freshman backup QB underthrowing the receiver on fade patterns. Later that same QB’s only pass of the game was a fade…underthrown. He did have several nice runs, and appears to have earned more playing time.
Tech’s O-line dominated the game, springing running backs for big gains and protecting QB Taylor Bennett in the pocket. Occasionally the left-handed Bennett would roll left and find that entire side of the field open. That’s how he scored Tech’s two touchdowns. Senior RB Tachard Choice broke into the open several times, once for 56 yards. As in the past, he was never able to break all the way into the end zone, and several times gave up yards by running out of bounds.
The Tech offense stuck to a simple game plan, the exact recipe they need to stick with to win games. They actually missed out on several more scoring opportunities…
1. A third-down deep pass hit the receiver in the chest on the goal line, but the ball bounced off the receiver’s chest, directly into the adjacent arms of the DB covering him for an interception. Better than a missed field goal, I said.
2. The Miami QB was pressured in the pocket and fumbled on his own 15-yard line. Two GT lineman eyed the ball, but instead of safely falling on it, they attempted to pick it up and score. Instead Miami recovered.
3. The Miami QB hit a GT linebacker in the hands on the 35-yard line, but the LB dropped the interception.
4. The backup GT QB quickly moved the offense down the field with a long run, that was called back due to two penalties against the same offensive lineman (#61): holding and roughness. Later 61 was called for holding again.
Tech’s All-American punter was only called on for three or four punts, mostly into the stiff breeze. Though the punts were short, they were effective. Kicker Travis Bell hit his only FG attempt, a 39-yarder.
Going to a game provides the opportunity to see things you can’t on TV. Usually I’m amazed at the quickness and speed of the players hitting holes, running routes, etc…but this time most of the players seemed slow, especially Tech (even Choice).
After Tech’s two touchdown drives were capped by Bennett’s rollout scores, a very haughty Choice strode back to the Tech bench, hands on hips, daring the Miami crowd to cross him. He also did this immediately after his 56-yard run. Instead of leading lesser teammates to focus on the task at hand, he instead sand and dance to the incessant hip-hop music piped over the decrepit Orange Bowl PA system. This in the third quarter with the score tied, the game’s outcome still very much in doubt.
At least several of the hip-hop songs were written especially for Miami football. It did appear that 90% of Miami fans weren’t devotees of hip-hop, though the cheerleaders certainly got into it. There were a few endearing Hurricane cheers. Whenever Miami made a first down the PA announcer would finish with “…and another Miami first down.” The entire crowd would point downfield and join in saying “first down!”
Tech only punted once in the second half, instead putting together four long drives, chewing up yards and clock. We left as the final seconds ticked away. With the Hurricanes moving next year to Dolphins Stadium, it was Nelson and Steve’s last-ever trip to the “OB”. Nelson had played there in high school, and as a twelve year-old played tag in the upper deck during Hurricane games. As a boy he befriended Dolphin RB Benny Malone, who would give him and his friends game tickets.