The first game of the 2021 season at Hard Rock Stadium was not one to remember. A few fans may think this game indicates that Miami is still free falling from the 44-13 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. But I think Miami’s horrible run defense and linebacker play, offensive line performance, and boringly timid play-calls, and are things that will carry over throughout the rest of the season.
Even worse, the Appalachian State Mountaineers didn’t do anything spectacular, except 150 yards rushing. The Canes completely played to a level that made this game a battle. There were some flash plays. D’Eriq King connected on a pair big plays with Charleston Rambo and Keyshawn Smith. But for a lot of the game, the offense was ugly, couldn’t stay on the field, and relied on King to create with his legs. And thankfully for the Canes, he did.
Special teams plays like an App State safety, a kick return TD by Jalen Virgil for the Mountaineers, a few phenomenal Lou Hedley punts , and Andres Borregales’ game-sealing field goal were really the only pinpoints of the game. As well all know, most games where special teams play is front-and-center, usually don’t feature that many star efforts. However, a few Canes players made a huge difference today. Here three stars from tonight's lackluster win against Appalachian State.
Third Star: D’Eriq King
I went back-and-forth between King and Cam’Ron Harris here. Harris’ 90 yards and 1 TD on the ground really did make an impact in the game. I went with King here even though he didn’t finish with the most spectacular numbers through the air (20 for 33 for 200 yards). However, his rushing performance (18 rushes for 88 yards) kept several drives alive and led us to the victory. His legs were really the only consistent threat the offense had all night. And a lot of times, he was making the best of some disastrous play calls.
Second Star: Tyrique Stevenson
Tyrique Stevenson was the best defensive player on the field. He made several key tackles in the game, including one on the boundary that kept App State out of the end zone in the third quarter. He also showed off his coverage skills throughout the game. In the third quarter, his defection on a slant to Corey Sutton was fantastic. He also shook off a collision with Bubba Bolden on the play. His punt return in the 4th quarter to the 33-yard-line also gave Miami its best starting field position of the night. To crown his stellar night, Stevenson’s major pass break-up with 0:55 seconds left, closed the door on any sort of App State comeback win.
First Star: Lou Hedley
There can be no doubt about this pick. Lou Hedley was Miami’s best player tonight. With 13 minutes left in the game, Hedley pinned App State at the two-yard line (for the second time in the game). Hedley proved why he’s considered one of the best, if not the best, punters in the country. He also had 6 punts that landed within the 20-yard line. The man is simply a baller.
Miami hosts the Michigan State Spartans at home next weekend. They have a lot of work to do if they don’t want to put out another embarrassing display on the field for the third week in a row.