# 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ #7 Miami Hurricanes
Hard Rock Stadium – Miami FL
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8) – #7 Miami Hurricanes (41)
The time is 12:16 AM on Sunday, November 13th. I am at a rest stop in eastern Ohio, making the long drive home from Louisville to Philadelphia. As I scroll through my messages from the drive, I see one from a long time friend who had promised to keep me in the loop with the 8 PM slate of games.
“Wow. Miami shellacked Notre Dame, 41-8.”
Wow is right. Having had the opportunity to re-watch the game, this was a statement game for the Hurricanes, who have run their winning streak to 14 consecutive games. This game lacked the prominent 2018 prospects of some of the other heavy hitters across the country, but there was ample talent to watch anyway.
Coach Mark Richt is building a powerhouse (assist to Al Golden)
Reading through the Hurricanes two deep is like an NFL futures primer. To put it plainly, this team is loaded. There’s potential future stars such as WR Ahmmon Richards (#82, sophomore), LBs Shaq Quarterman (#55), Michael Pinckney (#56) and Zach McCloud (#53), all of which are also sophomores, DE Joe Jackson (#99, sophomore) and even the injured RB Mark Walton. Top notch prospects, the whole lot of them. All credited to Mark Richt, who is in his second season with the Miami program.
But what about the current leadership on this team? TE Chris Herndon (#23, senior) is an NFL player. So are DTs RJ McIntosh (#80) and Kendrick Norton Jr (#7, both juniors). And WR Braxton Berrios (#8, senior) is making the most of his first opportunity to start, including a terrific over the shoulder catch for an early touchdown against the Irish. These players were brought to Miami by former coach Al Golden, so credit to him for some strong recruiting while he was here.
This Canes team, they’re for real. And the future is even brighter than the present, as scary as that may be.
Miami’s front four out-matched Notre Dame’s smash mouth offensive line
The Irish front is comprised of four seniors, the stars of which are LT Mike McGlinchey and LG Quenton Nelson. This was the first time all year I’ve seen defenders stack those two with some level of consistency at the line of scrimmage.
This isn’t do bag on either one of the Irish prospects. They controlled their men will with a good hand fit and stayed sticky on play side blocks. But the others? Compounding the issue was Miami’s total lack of respect for Irish QB Brandon Wimbush (and with good reason, as the final score would suggest). The LBs shot gaps quickly and got into the face of the Irish backs, not allow daylight to develop.
I would still assert that both Nelson and McGlinchey played perfectly fine games, they physically were up to the task. Miami’s gameplan negated them and the Irish rushing attack effectively.
Don’t bail on Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey as a potential early pick
Speaking of McGlinchey, he’s been somewhat maligned this season after watching him struggle mightily against speed in pass protection. McGlinchey has faced a murder’s row of pass rushers: Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter, Boston College’s Harold Landry, USC’s Uchenna Nwosu and Rasheem Green, NC State’s Bradley Chubb, Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor and now Miami’s sophomore phenom Joe Jackson.
Yet entering this game against Miami, McGlinchey had yielded less than 10 total pressures on the season. One of the sacks “registered” to McGlinchey, when down 34-0 was a play in which QB Wimbush stepped directly up into the path of McGlinchey’s neutralized pass rusher.
And on the strip sack McGlinchey gave up halfway through the 4th quarter, it didn’t look to my eye as though McGlinchey was beaten physically. Instead, he looked to be crossed up by the stunt and made a mistake in his assignment. The end result of being way too passive and shielding inside? The Canes defender ripped right around him for a sack.
McGlinchey was terrific in the run game and in short yardage situations he still won at the point of contact. There were ample positive reps in pass protection as well.
Miami Safety Jaquan Johnson can ball out
The man who earned the right to wear the esteemed Turnover Chain for the first time on Saturday night, Johnson impressed me with his all around game. Tackling, ball skills and presence in the open field were all plus qualities for the junior “ROVER” Safety for Miami. With a dominating defensive line in front of him and an aggressive tone setting trio of LBs, Johnson has the luxury of being aggressive as he roams the field.
Trusting his eyes led him to a number of big plays defensively, this is a name that should not get lost among this action packed group of defenders.
A potential Senior Bowl TEs showcased
Miami’s Chris Herndon is a senior who was overshadowed towards the end of last year by his all-world teammate and current Cleveland Brown David Njoku. Herndon isn’t quite on that level, but he is a very good receiving TE. The Canes passing offense got him involved early and he showed run after catch skill and also soft hands in the short areas of the field to finish with 4 catches for 30 yards.
As “the guy” this year, Herndon has already set career highs with 36 receptions, 422 yards and 4 touchdowns this season. He’s a Senior Bowl target and a name to watch.