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Postscripts from UM's season-opening win against FAU

Postscripts from UM’s 34-6 season-opening win against FAU:

### Joy-to-watch Duke Johnson needed less than three quarters to set a career high in rushing yardage (186, on 19 carries), topping his previous career mark (16 for 176 in last season’s finale against Duke). He finished with a 9.8 per carry average, including gallops of 42 and 53 yards, the latter going for a touchdown. It was the most yards on the ground by a Hurricane since Tyrone Moss ran for 195 yards in October 2005.

### Got to love James Coley’s aggressive play-calling, including a flea-flicker that produced a 38-yard gain on a short pass to Johnson, and a reverse to Herb Waters for a 63-yard touchdown.

UM played up tempo much of the night, one reason FAU won the time of possession, 33:08 to 26:51. UM finished second-worst in the country in time of possession last year, at 26 minutes per game.

But the possession number was irrelevant Friday; UM outgained FAU, 504-250. The Hurricanes ran for 303 yards (8.0 per carry) -- its most rushing yards since a November 2007 game against North Carolina State.

### Stephen Morris closed 15 for 27 for 160 yards, one touchdown and an interception that ended a streak of 156 consecutive passes without a pick. He had thrown 12 TDs since his last interception. Of course, Morris would have thrown for 3 TDs if Stacy Coley hadn’t dropped two.

Left tackle Ereck Flowers whiffed on a block on Morris’ interception, forcing Morris to throw prematurely.

### Morris’ best throw of the night was a dart to Clive Walford for a 16-yard touchdown. Asante Cleveland and Beau Sandland also got work with Walford in two-tight end sets, though neither of the two backups caught a pass. Sandland made a terrific block on a Duke Johnson run --- an encouraging sign for a tight end known largely for his pass catching skills. Walford finished with three catches for 34 yards.

### Stacy Coley opened as the third receiver (in a package with Allen Hurns and Phillip Dorsett) and caught a short pass for seven yards early in the game but dropped two potential touchdowns (one that was dislodged by an FAU defender in the end zone and another across the middle, deep in FAU territory, that likely would have been a score). He wasn’t thrown a pass again until he caught one from Ryan Williams in the fourth quarter for a 12-yard gain.

Waters ended up getting the bulk of the work as the third receiver and caught two passes for 49 yards, in addition to his long TD run. Rashawn Scott and Malcolm Lewis appeared to enter the night fifth and sixth on the depth chart.

Scott made a terrific lunging catch from Williams in the fourth quarter -– a 26-yard reception to FAU’s two-yard line – but injured his shoulder on the play and did not return… Hurns had 5 catches for 34 yards, Dorsett 2 for 14.

### Al Golden's take, afterward, on WQAM: "We learned a lot about our team tonight... Stacy will get over that. He's done such an amazing job in camp... We missed some opportunities, had some penalties... We upped Duke's load. He handled it well."

### Seantrel Henderson and Jon Feliciano split time at right tackle, and both had good moments and missteps. Henderson committed an illegal motion penalty and was beaten badly on a play when Morris’ pass was deflected, then caught by Morris for a 16-yard loss. Feliciano started, but Henderson played the next two series.

### UM still needs a short yardage back to emerge –- a notion reinforced when Johnson (betrayed on the play by poor blocking) couldn’t pick up a first down on a fourth and two early in the game. Fullback Maurice Hagens might be best suited for the job, but he’s also valuable as a lead blocker.

UM hopes Gus Edwards (six carries, 19 yards) could eventually seize that role, but he was too upright on a fourth-down goal-line run from the FAU two late in the game, and was stopped inches from a touchdown.

Eduardo Clements, back from a neck injury, finished with 23 yards on 6 carries. Dallas Crawford had a six-yard touchdown run after David Gilbert recovered a fumble; Crawford’s only other carry went for no gain.

### UM, which had a school record-low 13 sacks all of last season, closed with five --- by Thurston Armbrister, Anthony Chickillo, Olsen Pierre, Kacy Rodgers and a combined sack by Gilbert and Ufomba Kamalu. It’s difficult to make any sweeping conclusions about the defense because of the quality of the competition. We’ll know a lot more next Saturday, when the Gators visit.

But UM’s defensive line depth appears much stronger, so much so that Chickillo – UM’s best pass rusher last season --- didn’t even play on most third down passing situations. In those situations, UM used a package often featuring freshman Al Quadin Mohammad --- who generated quarterback pressure on several plays --- and sophomore Tyriq McCord and freshman tackle Kamalu. Gilbert also got work in that package.

Luther Robinson, as improved as any UM player over the past year, again gave UM good snaps behind starting tackles Pierre and Curtis Porter. And Virginia transfer Justin Renfro was inserted early in the game (on Miami’s second series) and also was stout against the run.

FAU averaged just 3.1 yards on 43 rushing attempts.

“We got some pressure,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said on WQAM. “I thought the execution was good. We ended up playing 11 [linemen], 8 at linebacker and 11 in the secondary.”      

### Tracy Howard opened at cornerback opposite Ladarius Gunter, but Antonio Crawford played a lot as the No. 3 corner. Gunter made a couple of very good plays in coverage.

### D’Onofrio made good use of safety blitzes a couple of times, and Kacy Rodgers’ sack forced the third-quarter fumble that Gilbert recovered.

### Much improved Armbrister, who beat out Alex Figueroa for a starting linebacker job, was active and generally productive, but Figueroa also made three dynamic plays.

### Disappointment of the night, besides Coley’s drops: Denzel Perryman dropped an interception, which likely would have been returned for a touchdown, and committed two foolish penalties, including a late hit.

### A bunch of freshmen played late in the game, including Edwards, Corn Elder, Jermaine Grace and Artie Burns, who had two impressive pass breakups late, including one that prevented a potential touchdown in the final minute…. Matt Goudis kicked 35- and 45-yard field goals… Dallas Crawford showed his speed on a 21-yard punt return.

### Safety Deon Bush, returning from June hernia surgery, was in uniform but did not play, with Rodgers logging most of the work alongside Rayshawn Jenkins…. UM said that the announced crowd of  50,051 included 7752 UM students.

Regular buzz columns will resume in several days.

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