Next weekend the Miami Hurricanes will have a chance to make a statement to all of College Football against the #10 Florida Gators. Tonight Duke Johnson and the D set the tone. Despite missing out on a number of big plays , UM dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and rolled to an easy victory at Sun Life Stadium.
The defense was sharp right off the bat, forcing a three and out on FAU's opening series. Denzel Perryman just barely missed a sure pick six, dropping one that hit him right on the mitts on third down. DP had a clear path to pay dirt.
Miami's first play from scrimmage of the year was a flea flicker meant to go deep, but when FAU covered well, Stephen Morris dumped the ball underneath to Duke Johnson who scampered neatly for 38 yards. The 'Canes continued to move the ball well but were inexplicably stopped on a 4th and 1 deep in Owls territory to end the drive.
After another nice stand by the D, the O was sparked again by Johnson, who broke a 43 yard run on the 1st play of UM's second drive. Four plays later Morris threw a strike in the back of the end zone that freshman Stacy Coley could not hold onto (sensing a theme here?). Nonetheless Matt Goudis came in and 35 yarder for a 3-0 lead.
Coley's struggles continued on the third series when Morris hit him in stride down the middle of the field but he was again unable to hold onto what would have been another easy TD. The 'Canes were forced to punt.
So despite playing relatively well, Miami finished the first quarter with as many dropped TD's, as points, and had to settle for a 3-0 lead.
The second quarter seemed to bring UM's offense into focus. The D got the ball back yet again, and Morris threw a 33 yard strike to Herb Waters. On the very next play Johnson slid through the line, hurdled a defender, and turned on the after burners for a sensational 56 yard TD and a 10-0 lead.
The Owls put together a nice response, driving the ball inside the 'Canes 10 with the help of an up tempo offense and some silly UM penalties. But the D stiffened and Florida Atlantic was forced to settle for a 25 yard FG from Mitch Anderson to cut the lead to 7.
Some more nice runs by Duke on the next drive set up a 45 yarder by Goudis, as Miami took back the momentum and built the lead to 13-3. On the third play of the drive, Phillip Dorsett appeared to break off a pattern on a deep ball by Morris, as the missed opportunities continued.
After FAU was again unable to move the ball, Dallas Crawford set up the offense inside the Owls 40 with a nice punt return. Eduardo Clements spelled Johnson and ran the ball effectively and Morris finally got his first TD pass of the season with a terrific sideline throw from the 16 to Clive Walford who held on despite a big hit.
At the half, the Hurricanes were in front 20-3, out-gaining the Owls 309-108 in total offense.
On the way to the locker room Al Golden told ESPN that the team needed to show Stacy Coley some love. What would he say to Coley at the half?
"Just relax bro. You do it every day."
All the more reason to love this coach.
The second half did however start sloppily for Miami. Dorsett and Morris again were out of sync as PD zigged were PM expected a zag and an easy INT for FAU ensued. Anderson booted another FG, and the game appeared closer then it actually was at 20-6.
The teams then traded punts, as the game appeared to hit a lull.
But then, Herb Waters took a pitch from Johnson off a reverse, and electrified the crowd with a terrific run of 63 yards! Waters made a sublime cut at the 20 that left FAU defenders flat footed in his wake, and sauntered in, to extend the lead to 21.
From there it was smooth sailing.
Kacy Rodgers forced a fumble on a safety blitz that Wisconsin transfer David Gilbert recovered. Dallas Crawford burst through a huge hole one play later to extend the lead to 34-6.
The rest was academic.
Miami gets a B.
The D was impressive all night. We know FAU is not an SEC team, but good D is good D. The Canes recorded just 13 sacks ALL of last year. They had 5 tonight. The pressure was consistent all game.
Drops aside, Morris and his receivers seemed a little out of sync. That will need to and should improve next week. Duke Johnson is a home run hitter that gives the team a swinging chance against anyone.
No Sophomore Jinx
Duke Johnson set a career high with 187 yards rushing on 19 carries and a TD.
Punter Pat O'Donnell boomed his first 2 kick offs out of the back of the end zone. He also averaged 49 yards on his first 3 punts. Shocker if he doesn't finish as an ALL ACC punter this year.
S Deon Bush, recovering from sports hernia surgery, did not play.
DE Al-Quadim Muhammad got into the game as a pass rusher almost immediately. Though he did not record a sack he looked fast on the edge.
LB Alex Figueroa got into the game in the second series. He also had a nice stop on third and short in the 4th quarter and a big hit in the open field.
CB Artie Burns recorded a first half tackle on kick off coverage. He saw some action late in the secondary as well and had a nice break up of a pass in the end zone.
Coley did record 2 receptions for 19 yards.
RB Gus Edwards saw some time late, and had 6 carries for 19 yards.
OT Ereck Flowers left the game temporarily in the 1st quarter. He appeared to be ok.
The franchise Duke Johnson was shaken up after throwing a block on Waters TD run, but thankfully appears to be ok. ESPN reported via Miami's medical staff that he passed a concussion test.
Rayshawn Scott appeared to seriously hurt his shoulder on a one-handed diving catch in the 4th quarter.