Miami desperately needed a blowout victory in this year’s FCS buy-game against the overmatched Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, The Canes got what they were looking for with a 69-0 demolition of the visitors from the Northeastern Conference on Saturday afternooon.
With starting QB D’Eriq King sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained in last week’s loss against Michigan State, redshirt freshman Tyler Van Dyke took the reigns as QB1. Van Dyke took great advantage of his opportunity by going 10-11 passing for 270 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs.
Van Dyke wasted not time in getting his hot day passing going, hitting his first 3 passes including a TD strike to Mike Harley to end the first drive of the game with his first career passing score. Van Dyke would use run after catch to turn 2 other short passes into long scores, with Brashard Smith going 74 yards on a swing pass, and Cam’Ron Harris going 83 yards on a check down with both finding the endzone at the end of their respective plays.
While Van Dyke and his 387.1 passer rating take the headline, true freshman QB Jake Garcia rotated with Van Dyke to get his first game experience as well. The California-native went 11-14 passing for 147 yards and 2 TDs in his first career game action. Garcia connected with true freshmen Romello Brinson for an acrobatic score on an incredible catch, and Jacolby George for a long score to get in the scorebook on his only catch of the day.
Together, Ven Dyke and Garcia ended the day 22-25 for 417 yards with 5 TDs and 0 INTs in their first extended action of their young Miami careers.
Not to be outdone, however, was Miami’s moribund and pedestrian rushing attack, which used this mismatch game to come alive. Cam’Ron Harris, Cody Brown, and Thad Franklin all had their turns finding plenty of open space to operate. The trio ran for 100 yards and 2 TD, 74 yards and 2 TDs, and 88 yards an 1 TD, respectively, and had the majority of the Canes’ 322 yards and all 5 rushing TDs on the day.
All told, Miami ended the day with a program-record 739 yards of total offense, breaking the previous record of 689 yards, set in 1999 against the UCLA Bruins.
Miami’s embattled defense also used today’s game to get things going in a positive direction. The Canes held CCSU to 198 yards of offense, a paltry 3.1 yards per play, and a microscopic 1 yard per rushing attempt. And, more promising, was the sure tackling that was largely seen on the day. Miami entered the game with the worst tackling rate of any FBS team in the country.
The other big story on the day from Hard Rock Stadium was the youth movement for the Canes. With several veteran players out with injury or suspension, many of Miami’s blue chip recruits from the last 2 cycles saw game action. Even guys at the bottom of the roster got into the game today, and that’s good for them. Those are the kinds of things you want to see in a mismatch such as this, and Miami worked hard to make that come true.
All in all, this will not be a noteworthy game in the bigger scheme of Miami’s season. But, facing the poor performances that had plagued the team through the first 3 games of the year, and with many issues that needed to be fixed, seeing Miami play a near flawless and clean game today was a sight for sore eyes.
Miami evens their record on the year to 2-2. The Cane have a quick turn around, as they will host the Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday night.
On to the next one.