RECAP: Hurricanes knock off Blazers in opener, 31-14

RECAP: Hurricanes knock off Blazers in opener, 31-14

Stefan Adams
Following an offseason that raised questions if the 2020 season would even be played, it’s official: Football is back.

In a season opener that wasn’t guaranteed, Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes took the field and debuted their new-look spread offense in Thursday night’s game against the UAB Blazers, racking up nearly 500 total yards behind QB D’Eriq King and RB Cam’Ron Harris on the way to a 31-14 win.

While it wasn’t quite an all-out assault on the offensive end, new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and the Canes’ offense showed off an attack that was extremely fast-paced and a far cry from what UM put on the field in their last game to end 2019, a shutout loss to Louisiana Tech. After running an average of 65 plays per game in 2019, Miami ran 78 plays in this outing, hitting the 65 mark at 12:19 in the 4th quarter.

After a slow start to begin the evening, Miami’s offense really turned it on in the second half to help UM pull away from an upstart UAB team coming off a 9-win season. All three of Miami's drives in the third quarter went for at least 6 plays and 66 yards, and each resulted in points. Two of those drives went for TD’s, were completed in under 3 minutes, and were Lashlee’s quick response to UAB cutting Miami’s lead to three with 6:19 left in the third quarter; that ultimately gave UM a 17-point cushion and put the game out of reach for the Blazers. The defense did the rest, locking down UAB in the final stanza, allowing Miami’s offense to go into a shell in an attempt to run out the clock, as well as giving Diaz a chance empty the bench late in the game.

Even though the big plays were lacking through the air in King’s first career game as a Hurricane (6.1 yards per attempt on 15-23 for 141 yards and a TD), the running game was certainly up to the task and then some. Lashlee’s goal was clearly to establish the run early and UM responded by exploding for 337 yards rushing on 52 total carries, with King posting 83 yards and a TD on the ground via 12 attempts (6.9 ypc). The TD was the first of his UM career and came in the second quarter on a leaping effort that saw King hit at the goal line, but still able to muster his way into the endzone. He later threw a 4-yard TD to TE Brevin Jordan (3 catches, 51 yards) in the third quarter. With the two TD’s, King has now both thrown and ran for a TD in 16 straight games, which extends his FBS record.

King’s rushing mark was surpassed only by Harris, who led the running game with 134 yards rushing on 17 carries (7.9 ypc) and 2 TD’s in his second career 100-yard rushing day. Harris’ first TD got a struggling UM offense going and opened the scoring for Miami in the first quarter; the run came on a key 4th and 1 attempt where Harris cut back, saw nothing but daylight, and was off to the races for a 66-yard scamper, the longest run of his career. He later added a 4-yard TD in the third quarter. After going down with an apparent leg injury on a run early in the 4th quarter, Harris did not return with Miami up 17 points, although he was able to walk off on his own power and said he was “good” in his post-game interview.

Not to be outdone, Miami’s freshmen running backs also made for a storyline, as both Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney demonstrated they were ready for the next level by combining for over 100 rushing yards in their first contest. Knighton (59 yards, 9 carries, 6.9 ypc) entered the game first and was slippery in breaking a tackle and getting to the second level for a 25-yard burst to set UM up inside the 10-yard line during their final TD drive late in the third quarter. Next up was Chaney, who finished with 52 yards on 8 carries (6.5 ypc); he got to the outside and turned on the jets for a 33-yard pickup in the third quarter as well.

The defensive effort was spearheaded by Bradley Jennings, who led the team with 6 tackles and 2 TFL in his first start replacing Shaq Quarterman at MLB. DT Nesta Silvera was not far behind, as he posted 5 tackles and busted into the backfield twice for assisted stops behind the line (1 TFL total). DE Quincy Roche recorded the Canes' only sack in his first game as a Hurricane, and it came on a UAB third down attempt in the second quarter. The sack was the 27th of his career and Roche leads all active FBS defenders in the category. Put it all together, and the Canes’ defense held UAB to just 285 total yards on the day.

“Couldn’t be more proud of our players,” Diaz said following the game. “It’s a season opener, there’s a ton of stuff to correct, but [I liked] just our demeanor, our temperament on the sideline, the way the guys supported each other and the way we just stayed after that UAB team. That’s a really good UAB team... A lot to correct from game one, but a lot to be proud of and just thankful to be these guys’ coach and have the opportunity to coach a football game at Hard Rock Stadium today.”

Ultimately, the Hurricanes won their first opener since 2017 and had an effort that they can build on in Diaz’s second year at the helm. Miami returns to the field next week when they go on the road to Louisville in their ACC opener.


TEAM NOTES

Starters

Offense
: QB #1 D’Eriq King, LT #74 John Campbell, Jr., LG #66 Ousman Traore, C #65 Corey Gaynor, RG #51 DJ Scaife, Jr., RT #62 Jarrid Williams, RB #23 Cam’Ron Harris, TE #9 Brevin Jordan, WR #3 Michael Harley, WR #6 Mark Pope, WR #8 Dee Wiggins

Defense: DE #15 Jaelan Phillips, DT #1 Nesta Jade Silvera, DT #96 Jonathan Ford, DE #2 Quincy Roche, STRK #3 Gilbert Frierson, LB #44 Bradley Jennings, Jr., LB #53 Zach McCloud, CB #8 DJ Ivey, S #26 Gurvan Hall, Jr., S #5 Amari Carter, CB #7 Al Blades, Jr.

-King, Traore, Williams, Phillips, Silvera, Roche, and Jennings all made the first starts of their Miami Hurricanes careers.

-Miami’s 337 rushing yards were the second-most by a Miami team vs. an FBS opponent since joining the ACC (2004 season) and most since recording 364 at Virginia Tech on 10/23/2014.

-CB Te’Cory Couch had the first forced fumble of his career in the third quarter.
 

Comments (30)

Following an offseason that raised questions if the 2020 season would even be played, it’s official: Football is back.

In a season opener that wasn’t guaranteed, Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes took the field and debuted their new-look spread offense in Thursday night’s game against the UAB Blazers, racking up nearly 500 total yards behind QB D’Eriq King and RB Cam’Ron Harris on the way to a 31-14 win.

While it wasn’t quite an all-out assault on the offensive end, new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and the Canes’ offense showed off an attack that was extremely fast-paced and a far cry from what UM put on the field in their last game to end 2019, a shutout loss to Louisiana Tech. After running an average of 65 plays per game in 2019, Miami ran 78 plays in this outing, hitting the 65 mark at 12:19 in the 4th quarter.

After a slow start to begin the evening, Miami’s offense really turned it on in the second half to help UM pull away from an upstart UAB team coming off a 9-win season. All three of Miami's drives in the third quarter went for at least 6 plays and 66 yards, and each resulted in points. Two of those drives went for TD’s, were completed in under 3 minutes, and were Lashlee’s quick response to UAB cutting Miami’s lead to three with 6:19 left in the third quarter; that ultimately gave UM a 17-point cushion and put the game out of reach for the Blazers. The defense did the rest, locking down UAB in the final stanza, allowing Miami’s offense to go into a shell in an attempt to run out the clock, as well as giving Diaz a chance empty the bench late in the game.

Even though the big plays were lacking through the air in King’s first career game as a Hurricane (6.1 yards per attempt on 15-23 for 141 yards and a TD), the running game was certainly up to the task and then some. Lashlee’s goal was clearly to establish the run early and UM responded by exploding for 337 yards rushing on 52 total carries, with King posting 83 yards and a TD on the ground via 12 attempts (6.9 ypc). The TD was the first of his UM career and came in the second quarter on a leaping effort that saw King hit at the goal line, but still able to muster his way into the endzone. He later threw a 4-yard TD to TE Brevin Jordan (3 catches, 51 yards) in the third quarter. With the two TD’s, King has now both thrown and ran for a TD in 16 straight games, which extends his FBS record.

King’s rushing mark was surpassed only by Harris, who led the running game with 134 yards rushing on 17 carries (7.9 ypc) and 2 TD’s in his second career 100-yard rushing day. Harris’ first TD got a struggling UM offense going and opened the scoring for Miami in the first quarter; the run came on a key 4th and 1 attempt where Harris cut back, saw nothing but daylight, and was off to the races for a 66-yard scamper, the longest run of his career. He later added a 4-yard TD in the third quarter. After going down with an apparent leg injury on a run early in the 4th quarter, Harris did not return with Miami up 17 points, although he was able to walk off on his own power and said he was “good” in his post-game interview.

Not to be outdone, Miami’s freshmen running backs also made for a storyline, as both Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney demonstrated they were ready for the next level by combining for over 100 rushing yards in their first contest. Knighton (59 yards, 9 carries, 6.9 ypc) entered the game first and was slippery in breaking a tackle and getting to the second level for a 25-yard burst to set UM up inside the 10-yard line during their final TD drive late in the third quarter. Next up was Chaney, who finished with 52 yards on 8 carries (6.5 ypc); he got to the outside and turned on the jets for a 33-yard pickup in the third quarter as well.

The defensive effort was spearheaded by Bradley Jennings, who led the team with 6 tackles and 2 TFL in his first start replacing Shaq Quarterman at MLB. DT Nesta Silvera was not far behind, as he posted 5 tackles and busted into the backfield twice for assisted stops behind the line (1 TFL total). DE Quincy Roche recorded the Canes' only sack in his first game as a Hurricane, and it came on a UAB third down attempt in the second quarter. The sack was the 27th of his career and Roche leads all active FBS defenders in the category. Put it all together, and the Canes’ defense held UAB to just 285 total yards on the day.

“Couldn’t be more proud of our players,” Diaz said following the game. “It’s a season opener, there’s a ton of stuff to correct, but [I liked] just our demeanor, our temperament on the sideline, the way the guys supported each other and the way we just stayed after that UAB team. That’s a really good UAB team... A lot to correct from game one, but a lot to be proud of and just thankful to be these guys’ coach and have the opportunity to coach a football game at Hard Rock Stadium today.”

Ultimately, the Hurricanes won their first opener since 2017 and had an effort that they can build on in Diaz’s second year at the helm. Miami returns to field next week when they go on the road to Louisville in their ACC opener.


TEAM NOTES

Starters

Offense
: QB #1 D’Eriq King, LT #74 John Campbell, Jr., LG #66 Ousman Traore, C #65 Corey Gaynor, RG #51 DJ Scaife, Jr., RT #62 Jarrid Williams, RB #23 Cam’Ron Harris, TE #9 Brevin Jordan, WR #3 Michael Harley, WR #6 Mark Pope, WR #8 Dee Wiggins

Defense: DE #15 Jaelan Phillips, DT #1 Nesta Jade Silvera, DT #96 Jonathan Ford, DE #2 Quincy Roche, STRK #3 Gilbert Frierson, LB #44 Bradley Jennings, Jr., LB #53 Zach McCloud, CB #8 DJ Ivey, S #26 Gurvan Hall, Jr., S #5 Amari Carter, CB #7 Al Blades, Jr.

-King, Traore, Williams, Phillips, Silvera, Roche, and Jennings all made the first starts of their Miami Hurricanes careers.

-Miami’s 337 rushing yards were the second-most by a Miami team vs. an FBS opponent since joining the ACC (2004 season) and most since recording 364 at Virginia Tech on 10/23/2014.

-CB Te’Cory Couch had the first forced fumble of his career in the third quarter.

Interesting to compare to 2011 Clemson coming off a 6-7 season, and with Chad Morris as the new OC. They opened with Troy, and ultimately won 43-19, but they were down 16-13 with 6 min left in the third quarter and got booed. I'd say that opening performance was on par with ours.
 
Solid opener. I think Lashlee didn’t open up the playbook all the way and King played it conservatively by not taking the option himself on multiple plays. Defense was solid with some miscues. You can already tell it will be a much better product than last year. Our backfield is going to be amazing as the season progresses.
 
Happy w/ the W and the potential in this offense. OL still needs work. Looking forward to Lash opening up the playbook when it's time.
 
Considering UAB had at least 8 men in the box most of the game, I’d say the offense performed pretty well. I would’ve liked to see more passing but when they went to a more intermediate passing attack in the second half they were pretty successful. When they started going to Brevin things really opened up. I truly think the TEs will have a big role in the passing attack, just no sense in putting that all out last night. Hopefully film study helps the defense. The only time they did anything was off that damn swing pass on their first play of the series. Seemed like the motion from the slot froze the LBs after that and led to the open running lanes. This was about what I expected to see. Plus no major mental mistakes was nice.
 
Just as I suspected, this lashlee guy has common sense, he understands establishing the run game is going to be Paramount, he got some spurrier in em. Also as I suspected, it's going to be interesting to see if king is going to be able to be an efficient passer, and of course the widereceiver play is going to have to step up as well, but perry still has the better arm, this offense could actually be more high-powered underhim minus the qb rushing. Our d-line is definitely missing jock rousseau and garvin, I saw a and roche getting single blocked to many times.
 
Solid opener. I think Lashlee didn’t open up the playbook all the way and King played it conservatively by not taking the option himself on multiple plays. Defense was solid with some miscues. You can already tell it will be a much better product than last year. Our backfield is going to be amazing as the season progresses.
I think Burns will be needed this year!
 
So for a little perspective here (note: I wasn’t totally impressed with the execution during the game, but have slept over it now), does last year’s team and level of performance, beat this year’s UAB or lose to it like to FIU and LA Tech?
 
So to recap - the defense gave up one legit TD after the Pope fumble, and the other was scored on an obvious hold, but have to ding the D a little for letting UAB drive down the field. Overall a solid performance for a D that has new players at key positions.

On offense, it was clunky and vanilla but still scored 31 points. If you told me that in the offseason that a misfiring Miami offense with no WR contribution "only" scores 31 ppg, I think I'd be pretty happy.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

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2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
W 31 - 14
09/19
Louisville
Louisville, KY
W 47 - 34
09/26
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
10/10
Clemson
Clemson, SC
10/17
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
10/24
Virginia
Miami Gardens, FL
11/06
NC State
Raleigh, NC
11/14
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/21
Georgia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
11/28
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, NC
12/05
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
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