Miami vs. South Florida: 10 Things We Learned from the Hurricanes' Win
Sparked by 540 yards of offense, the No. 15 Miami Hurricanes went on the road, smacked the South Florida Bulls 49-21 and taught the viewers a few lessons.
Senior quarterback Stephen Morris led three scoring drives and threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns before exiting the game due to an ankle injury.
Freshman receiver Stacy Coley caught four passes for 96 yards and two scores, and second-string running back Dallas Crawford found the end zone twice, too.
Save for USF's first drive, the Hurricanes defense played a dominant game to help Miami improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2004.
Stephen Morris Found His Rhythm
Stephen Morris played decently well in the season-opener vs. Florida Atlantic, but he and the receivers weren't exactly in sync. Of course, it was the first game of the year, so that was to be expected.
The 'Canes were prepared for Florida early, but they struggled after the first quarter. Savannah State provided an opportunity to bounce back, but Morris left the game after attempting just four passes.
Even though Morris limped off the field yet again, he certainly was impressive during his three-and-a-half series.
He launched a few deep passes, found his open receivers and carved up the USF secondary. Phillip Dorsett, Stacy Coley, Herb Waters and Allen Hurns each snagged excellent passes, and Miami dominated with Morris under center.
He will now face a Georgia Tech defense that recently allowed Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas to complete 76 percent of his passes.
Morris Will Continue Playing Hurt
Since Morris tweaked his ankle yet again, the injury will continue to linger in some form, but Morris had some interesting things to say about the day.
According to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald, Morris wasn't happy with the "cheap shots" USF's defense was taking.
Then, Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes Morris saw no point in returning to the game because of the cheap shots as the 'Canes were leading by 21.
Finally, Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post has an interesting quote from the senior quarterback.
It is what it is. I wanted to score 70 points on them. They disrespected us, so I had no respect for them. At that point, I felt like we should just keep pushing it, keep killing them.
But not only will Morris continue to play hurt, it looks like he will play with a chip on his shoulder.
Ryan Williams Is the Clear Backup
Ryan Williams and Gray Crow have been battling for the second-string quarterback position since last season.
On Saturday, however, Williams distinguished himself as the clear backup in 2013-14 and the frontrunner for the starting job next season.
After Morris limped off the field, Williams calmly came onto the field and converted a third down. He finished the game completing eight-of-14 passes for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Crow was given an opportunity to take some snaps during the fourth quarter and proceeded to throw both of his passes into the raised hands of defenders, and one deflection resulted in a pick-six for the Bulls.
Golden then sent Williams under center for the remainder of the rout, which showed his trust in the junior gunslinger.
Duke Johnson Is Scary...in Two Ways
We knew Duke Johnson was a playmaker.
Although it was called back due to a holding penalty, he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, showcasing his blazing speed down the sideline.
Duke tallied 84 yards and a score on the ground—his eighth consecutive game with a touchdown—but he also fumbled twice inside the USF five-yard line. Additionally, he temporarily left the game for the fourth straight contest.
Remember, Miami has played just four games this year.
He can break open a game with a big play on offense or special teams, but it also feels like Duke is breaking, too.
Stacy Coley Is Already a Weapon
Last week against Savannah State, Stacy Coley caught a touchdown and also ran a kickoff back for a score.
But it was Savannah State.
So, Coley continued his hot streak by catching two touchdown passes, and he returned a punt 25 yards, slicing his way through the USF coverage team. As mentioned earlier, the true freshman finished the day with four receptions for 96 yards.
Coley is really making his presence known, and Miami has at least two more years of this guy.
Well that's exciting.
Running Back Depth Is There
Duke Johnson was the obvious starter, but there were some questions surrounding his backups. Dallas Crawford had six career carries, Gus Edwards was a true freshman and Eduardo Clements needed to recover from offseason neck surgery.
Again, Crawford had just six carries last season, but a year later through four games, he already has six touchdowns.
Edwards broke a career-long 29-yard run on his first carry vs. USF and finished the game with 53 yards.
Clements did not carry the ball against the Bulls, but he ran for 75 yards on 11 carries last week.
After Danny Dillard transferred right before the season-opener, the 'Canes appeared slightly thin at running back. Five weeks later, Miami has proved it can go four deep in the backfield.
James Coley Is Clearly More Comfortable
James Coley, the Hurricanes' first-year offensive coordinator, is new to the play-calling realm this season.
He had some obvious growing pains—especially vs. Florida—as Miami failed to consistently move the ball against the Gators' tenacious defense.
But on Saturday, the 'Canes racked up 540 total yards of offense and converted seven of their first 10 third downs. Miami had five passing plays of 30-plus yards and eight different receivers caught at least one pass.
Like Morris, Coley found his groove at the perfect time for the Hurricanes.
Red-Zone Offense Is Eyebrow-Raising
The Hurricanes scored six offensive touchdowns, but they could have had more points.
Duke Johnson had the aforementioned two red-zone fumbles, and Matt Goudis also pushed a 23-yard attempt wide to the right as the first half expired.
Plus, the 'Canes were nearly stopped on four straight goal-to-go plays before Dallas Crawford carried a defender into the end zone.
Miami left at least 17 points on the field, and that's certainly not something that makes Al Golden happy as the biggest competition (other than Florida) remains on the schedule.
Miami's Defense Is Almost for Real
Miami's defense allowed a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to the Bulls right away.
After that, however, South Florida could manage only 126 yards of offense before its 96-yard scoring drive against the Hurricanes' reserves.
Tyriq McCord intercepted a pass, Shayon Green forced a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by Jimmy Gaines for a touchdown and the rest of Miami's defense was constantly in Steven Bench's face, making life uncomfortable for USF's quarterback.
The Bulls averaged just three yards per rushing attempt and converted on just two-of-14 third downs.
All that is left for the Hurricanes defense to prove their legitimacy is dominating games against ACC competition, and the unit can begin that quest next week.
Thurston Armbrister Is Emerging
Thurston Armbrister was voted to multiple college football all-name teams, including a first-team selection on Sporting News.
But if the sophomore linebacker isn't careful, he might find himself as an honorable mention All-ACC player.
Armbrister made a fantastic play setting the edge, not allowing Bench to roll right and proceeded to sack the USF quarterback. It was Armbrister's second sack of the season and fourth tackle for loss.
The Hurricanes already have plenty of talent at linebacker, and Armbrister is only adding to the much-improved Miami defense.