Miami’s 17-12 victory over Central Michigan was not what those involved with the football program or the fans were looking for on Saturday afternoon.
The Hurricanes struggled on offense against the Chippewas but got just enough from the defense to come away with a win in a game that was much closer than it should have been.
Despite the poor performance, there were several bright spots for Miami in its fourth game of the 2019 season.
Third Star: Louis Hedley
It’s never good when your punter is one of your three stars of a home game against a group of five team but you can’t really argue Louis Hedley’s presence on this list tonight.
The Australian punted four times for an average of 48 yards, not including his punt that was partially blocked in the second quarter. He booted a season-long 59-yard punt in the fourth quarter and twice pinned Central Michigan inside the 10-yard line to help the defense with field position.
He punted the ball to the CMU 10-yard line (57 yards in total) early in the second quarter and in his biggest play of the game, booted a 59-yard punt that pinned the Chippewas at the 5-yard line for their chance to take the lead trailing 17-12 with 39 seconds to play.
He also had a 45-yard punt to the CMU 3-yard line wiped away because of an illegal formation penalty in the second quarter. His ensuing attempt was partially deflected after the penalty.
Hedley is settling into the American football game and is getting more comfortable punting heading into ACC play.
Second Star: UM’s Starting Tight Ends
Sophomores Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory combined to catch five passes for 129 yards on Saturday afternoon. Jordan (3-70) was UM’s leading receiver while Mallory (2-59) was not far behind as Miami’s second leading receiver.
Jordan had a 27-yard catch in the first quarter, a 25-yard catch in the third quarter and an 18-yard catch from Jarren Williams in the fourth quarter. The Nevada native is now tied for the team lead in receptions (16) and leads the team in receiving yards (233) through four games.
Mallory did all of his damage on Miami’s first drive as he caught a 38-yard pass from Williams on the Hurricanes’ first play from scrimmage and later caught a 21-yard pass that put Miami inside the 10-yard line. DeeJay Dallas capped that drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge on fourth down.
In total, UM got 86 receiving yards from its tight ends in the first quarter, when its offense was clicking best on Saturday afternoon. Miami needs to involve the tight end as much as possible to try and free up more space for wide receivers KJ Osborn and Jeff Thomas to work outside when their numbers are called.
First Star: Shaq Quarterman
UM’s stingy defense pushed it to victory and there was no doubt who the best player on that defense was on Saturday.
Senior Shaq Quarterman finished the game with 14 tackles (two for a loss) and a quarterback hurry and provided senior leadership while taking minimal breaks from the action.
Quarterman and the defense held Central Michigan to just 31 yards rushing on 27 carries and finished with four quarterback sacks and six hurries in total.
In total, the Hurricane defense was on the field for 78 plays and Quarterman was on the field for most of them.
“I don’t know if (Shaq Quarterman) and (Michael Pinckney) came out for a play,” Manny Diaz told the media after the game. “So that’s a lot on their bodies. I’m sure there are some guys that will welcome the bye.”
Honorable Mention: Jarren Williams (17-for-24, 250 yards, TD, fumble lost), Jeff Thomas (29 receiving yards, 40 return yards), Gurvan Hall (10 tackles, 1 pass breakup), Al Blades Jr. (3 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass breakup)