“It’ll be a close game”, they said.
“App State is better than you think”, they said.
“Miami is going to lose this game”, they said.
Well, Miami came out on Saturday to prove a point to all the doubters and haters, and did just that, easily dispatching Appalachian State 45-10.
This game, the biggest game in the history of Appalachian State’s program, had gotten plenty of media and fan hype in the week leading up to gameday. The Mountaineers brought in additional stands and did several other upgrades to Kidd Brewer Stadium for this game. All that came from it was a record crowd watching a decisive asskicking.
The party for Miami started early. After forcing an App State punt, Miami struck quickly on an 80 yard TD run by Mark Walton on the first offensive play of the game. The Canes’ leading rusher would finish the day with 16 carries for 130 yards and 2 TDs.
After that haymaker on the first play from scrimmage, Miami went on to score twice more in the first quarter, and were quickly up 21-0.
To their credit, Appalachian State didn’t give up. They played Miami to a 3-3 tie in the 2nd quarter, leaving the scoreline at 24-3 at the half. App State had a chance to maybe score a TD late in the half, but a bad snap killed that drive, one that ended with a missed FG.
The 3rd quarter was when Miami exploded. After an ill-advised interception on 4th and goal from the 1, App State scored to cut the lead to 24-10. After that turn of events, Miami went out and scored TDs on their next 2 drives, moving the score up to 38-10 heading into the 4th quarter. A TD run by Mark Walton in the middle of the 4th quarter put the game away, and gave us the 45-10 final score for the game.
One of the big storylines of this game was the stellar play of Miami QB Brad Kaaya. After starting the year quietly, and coming off arguably the worst game of his career at Miami, Kaaya had a virtuoso performance to remind fans and foes alike of his elite level skills.
Kaaya went 21-27 passing for 368 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 Interception on the day. The only bad throw he had was the interception, a telegraphed pass to the fullback on 4th and goal from the 1. Outside of that play, however, Kaaya was perfect. He hit several bubble screens and quick screens with quick, accurate throws. And, he connected with Stacy Coley twice and David Njoku for his 3 TDs. And, when App State went to press coverage in the 3rd quarter looking to force Miami to throw, Kaaya hit freshman phenom Ahmmon Richards for 61 and 64 yards on consecutive drives, each play leading to a touchdown.
If there’s anything to take away from this game, it’s that Brad Kaaya is still an elite QB. Just look at the throws he made — a 13 yard out route from the right hash to the left sideline to Braxton Berrios on 3rd and 11 early in the ballgame was absolutely an NFL throw — and look at the stat line. Trash QBs can’t do that. And Brad Kaaya isn’t a trash QB. And today’s game reminded the country of that.
On the other side of the ball, the Miami Hurricane defense was awesome. The defensive line got penetration time after time, never letting Appalachian State get settled in the pass game, and the whole defense swarmed to the ball, largely containing App State’s prolific run game.
Already among the best defenses in the country statistically, Miami had a field day against the Mountaineers. The Canes added 3 sacks and 12 tackles for loss to their already impressive resume.
While the standouts on defense were many, DE Chad Thomas and CB Corn Elder led the way. Thomas, the last 5-star player to sign with Miami, played like it today, ending the game with 9 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. Elder was a beast all over the field, ending with 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, and 1 QB hurry.
Whether its the 549-241 total yardage difference, or the 6/11 3rd down conversions, or the 2/13 3rd down conversions allowed to App State, or the sacks and TFLs, or the 45-10 score, it’s clear that no matter where you look or which metric you use, Miami dominated this game.
I wrote earlier today that a blowout win would go a long way to exorcising the ghosts of the past for the Miami Hurricanes, and this game did just that. I said this team would easily dispatch App State, and that’s exactly what happened. And, it’s exactly what SHOULD have happened.
Miami is 3-0 after this beatdown victory. The Canes are averaging 51 points per game, have a defense that is fast and physical, and have the look of a team that should be a challenge for anybody in America to compete against.