The 21-16 win is now the signature victory for Al Golden during his short time in Coral Gables. Surprisingly, the win had more to do with the much maligned Hurricane defense than the heralded offense.
On the day, the Canes totaled just 212 yards of offense, and more than half of that came in the opening quarter. The Miami defense spent 38 minutes on the field, primarily because the offense was a dismal 1-11 converting third downs.
After a hot start, quarterback Stephen Morris struggled for most of the afternoon. He tossed two first quarter touchdowns, but ended the day just 12-25 for 162 yards.
In his defense, the play calling by offensive coordinator James Coley was suspect at best. It seemed like nearly every one of Morris’ throws came with a moving pocket or on bootlegs. Rarely did Coley trust his offensive line to hold up in conventional drop back pass plays. As a result, Morris seemed out of sorts on a majority of his throws.
Running back Duke Johnson had a few bursts in the first quarter, but was reined in until scoring late to salt away the victory. He finished with 59 yards rushing on 21 carries, as Miami averaged under two yards per carry on the day.
Thankfully, the Miami defense was outstanding, forcing five turnovers, including three in the red zone.
In the end, the early production was enough offense to give the Hurricanes the huge win. Moving forward, they’ll have to improve if they want to win the ACC crown, but for today, they can celebrate beating their in-state rival.