The Miami Hurricanes continue to find a way, which hasn’t been the case over the past few seasons. A 13-11 two-year rebuilding run by Al Golden, on the heels of 28-22 under previous coach Randy Shannon, it makes this season’s 5-0 run that much more impressive.
An early-season win over No. 12 Florida put Miami on the map and after a recent 45-30 win over Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes improved to 1-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play and jumped to twelfth in the current polls.
Miami fell into an early 17-7 hole this past Saturday at Sun Life Stadium. Georgia Tech brought a new wrinkle its triple option—a diamond offense that confused the Hurricanes in the first half.
Vad Lee and a handful of receivers started chipping away at Miami early. The opening drive spanned almost six minutes, went 75 yards and too 12 plays.
The Hurricanes responded in the opposite manner, going 73 yards on two plays and taking 32 seconds as Stephen Morris hooked up with Phillip Dorsett for the 40-yard touchdown. The play was set up by a 33-yard run by Duke Johnson on the opening play.
Miami held Georgia Tech to three a drive later, but a third Johnson fumble in a four-quarter span put the Hurricanes in a hole. Three plays later, Charles Perkins tore off a 31-yard run and Miami was down ten after one.
On the brink of disaster, the UM defense again rose to the challenge. A Morris interception on the final play of the first quarter looked like the wheels were coming off, but defensive lineman Justin Renfrow forced a Lee fumble from the Miami 22-yard line, recovered by linebacker Jimmy Gaines and the Canes had new life.
Morris atoned for his earlier mistake and with a balance of Johnson, Dallas Crawford, Allen Hurns and Clive Walford, who hauled in the four-yard score after a 19-yard second-down gain, Miami pulled to within three and regained momentum.
A dogfight until the final minutes of the third quarter, Morris again hooked up with Hurns—the play of the game, a 69-yard touchdown strike for the 24-17 lead. Georgia Tech looked to tie things up early fourth quarter, but a missed extra point kept Miami up by one.
Trusting its ground attack, and buying the gimpy Morris a little time, “The Duke of Coral Gables” took over. Johnson returned the kickoff 31 yards to the Hurricanes 34-yard line and ran five times in a row, picking up 22 yards.
A Crawford run went for no gain, but on 2nd-and-10, the Yellow Jackets’ defense baited in, Morris found freshman receiver Stacy Coley for the 41-yard gain. A play later, Crawford punched in the three-yard touchdown and Miami led, 31-23.
Ladarius Gunter picked off back-up quarterback Justin Thomas the next drive, a play after Tyriq McCord forced a fumble the Yellow Jackets recovered. Gunters’ score capped a 38-6 scoring run for Miami from mid-second quarter until late in the fourth.
Gunter took the errant pass 30 yards to the end zone, blowing the game out of the water for good. Georgia Tech got a late score, but the damage was done and the Hurricanes sealed another convincing win.
Schedule-wise Miami gets another breather and proper bounce. A bye this coming weekend before a road trip to Chapel Hill on Thursday October 17 to take on a struggling North Carolina squad, sitting at 1-4. From there, another long layoff before welcoming Wake Forest on October 26.
Morris’ deep bone bruise has had little time to heal with back-to-back games against South Florida and Georgia Tech, but now has twelve days and hopefully limited action against the Demon Deacons, before nine more leading up to a monster game in Tallahassee on November 2.
Miami hasn’t been perfect five games in, but the Hurricanes record remains flawless. UM is undefeated and 5-0 for the first time since 2004 and thankfully gets two more lesser showdowns before taking on Seminoles squad getting better by the week.
Florida State is coming off a 63-0 shellacking of No. 25 Maryland and is also 5-0 with a bye this weekend. To date, the Seminoles have faced Pittsburgh, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman and Boston College, before the recent win over the Terrapins.
Fun and games thus far, but a road trip to Clemson (11/19) and a home game against North Carolina State (11/26) await before Miami treks north.
Lots of football remains and much to be discussed, but with Georgia Tech in the rearview and Miami having overcome another challenge, time to exhale, regroup and refocus.