It’s rare that the Hurricanes make the trip up the northeastern side of the country to play a game. On Saturday afternoon, the Canes basically travelled 1,332 miles from their Coral Gables campus to square up with the Toledo Rockets in the final game of a home and home series with the reigning Mid-American Conference champions. In the rematch between the Hurricanes and Rockets, it was the Canes who came away from the Glass Bowl with a 49-24 win today.
In a contest that many expected to be a high-scoring affair, these two did not disappoint. From big plays through the air, explosive runs from the backfield and the occasional defensive stop, this afternoon served as a true test to the capabilities and vulnerabilities of each program. While there are many stars on the field, we have to narrow them down to three. Enough of the preamble, here are the players who made the most impact today for the Canes.
Earlier in the week, RB DeeJay Dallas was quoted as saying “We’re built to crush dreams” regarding Toledo’s chance of victory on Saturday. The sophomore running back did his best to erase any form of optimism for the Rockets on the afternoon. Splitting carries with fellow RB Travis Homer, Dallas put together a solid day of work with 17 carries for 110 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the third quarter.
Earlier in the week, State of the U contributor NYCanesGuy pondered whether sophomore WR Jeff Thomas had surpassed WR Ahmmon Richards as the best player at the position. I don’t know if we can give a definitive answer after just three games in the season, yet it appears he is going about his business as many projected he would. The Canes delivered the ball in good positions on the afternoon, and Thomas once again outraced the Rockets’ defense for huge gains down field. Although we didn’t see Thomas perform his now-patented toe tap snags along the sideline, today once again asserted that this Canes wideout will not let excuses rob him of opportunity. With five receptions, 105 receiving yards and one touchdown, Thomas most assuredly stained the Glass Bowl with that Miami No. 4 before he left the field.
I’m sure that most of the negatives will be covered in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” commentary by Cam Underwood momentarily, so we’ll focus on what No. 12 did well this afternoon. Rosier found his playmakers close to the boundary, with some passes staying on target to allow run after the catch opportunities. His 13 completions on 23 attempts in the face of Toledo’s pressure from multiple depths and angles was impressive. For the most part, Roiser was able to elude the pressure with his legs to gain crucial yardage. The QB finished the afternoon rushing for 80 yards, passing for 205 yards and piling up a career high five total TDs (3 rushing, 2 passing) to put together a solid day in the office.
A week ago, Gerald Willis III let his teammates on the defensive line eat, getting their shine against Savannah State. This week, G reserved a table in Toledo’s backfield, celebrating with a five-course meal at the expense of their QB. The Rockets had no answers when it came to trying to block the defensive tackle, as Willis surged off of the line of scrimmage to force Toledo’s RBs to redirect as soon as they secured the handoff. Five tackles, three tackles-for-loss with one being counted as a sack, Willis’ hunt Saturday afternoon was a successful venture.
After a slow start to the season, today was much better performance for RB Travis Homer. Finding most of his success running between the tackles, the junior tailback rushed for 62 yards on 16 attempts to help the Canes overpower the Rockets.
It was another week and another turnover chain earned for CB Trajan Bandy. The sophomore defensive back was in tough against Toledo’s talented receiving corp, often finding himself lined up across from WR Cody Thompson, WR Diontae Johnson and WR Jon’Vea Johnson. Bandy finished the day with three tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup and the interception that brought out the chain.
It’s hard to imagine anyone forgetting about 6’5” WR Lawrence Cager, yet the big man did not receive a target until the second half. From there No. 18 was able to assert himself in the passing game, using his size to box out defensive backs and helped extend a drive with a crucial 32-yard reception. Cager caught three passes for 67 receiving yards and a touchdown.
We can’t forget about the defense. Yes, they let the Rockets rattle off a few drives at their expense, but for the majority of the first half and late in the game, the Canes buckled down on Toledo. UM closed the door on the Rockets with a nine tackle for loss, four sack and one interception performance.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!