Postscripts from UM’s 41-20 win against Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium:
### If this was a harbinger of what we’re going to see from Brad Kaaya over the next few years, this is going to be a fun ride.
Aside from the one late interception, Kaaya was brilliant in his third college start: 16 for 24 for 342 yards and four touchdowns. The 342 yards is a UM record for a true freshman, according to the school.
His first two deep passes to Phillip Dorsett couldn’t have been better thrown, with the first going for a 63 yard touchdown and next covering 51 yards. He barely overthrew Dorsett on another deep ball later in the game.
Dorsett helped pad Kaaya’s passing yardage by taking a short pass for another 63 yard score in the third quarter.
But Kaaya was also sharp on intermediate routes, including a strike to Clive Walford for a 21-yard gain in the second quarter. James Coley smartly called several bubble screens (to Malcolm Lewis, in particular) and a nifty wheel route to Walford for a 19-yard touchdown. And Kaaya was very good executing play fakes.
“It felt good to start fast,” Kaaya told WQAM afterward. “All week long we talked about the shots we were going to take downfield. We came out of the gate full speed…. Going into the game, we had a few play actions set for Clive Walford. They left him wide open a few times…. Having a guy like Duke Johnson going into the game, the opposing defense is always thinking run. That helped on the second play, where we called play action (on the 63-yard TD pass to Dorsett)….
“Louisville week was a weird week," Kaaya added. "We had just finished camp. Other guys were out on sync that week, Monday game. We didn’t get back from Louisville until 6 a.m. and we couldn’t practice the next day. Having a full week of practice helped get our timing down. Just sticking to a routine is really essential. Teams that constantly practice properly --– those things win.”
Said Al Golden: “I thought he ripped it today. Some of the things that may not be noticeable to the casual viewer --- the line of scrimmage presence, the check to get us into the long run, the throw to Phillip down the sideline was an adjust. Freshmen don’t do that. Last week, he was almost trying to push it, aiming it. He was ripping it all day.”
UM entered the game just 3 for 23 on third downs --- worst in major college football --- but Kaaya completed four of his first five third-down passes for 45 yards. UM finished 5 for 12 on third downs.
Kaaya exited in the third quarter but returned for a series in the fourth after Arkansas State closed UM’s lead to 41-20. Kaaya threw his only interception to end that one series that he played in the fourth quarter, and Coley told him it was Coley's fault.
Kaaya became the seventh quarterback in UM history to throw at least four touchdown passes in a game. UM said that has happened on 15 occasions in school history.
If Kaaya had stayed in the game throughout, he could have approached 400 yards passing --- something that has been done only 11 times by UM quarterbacks.
### Dorsett had 138 receiving yards in the first quarter and closed with 201 (on four catches) --- the third highest total in UM history behind Eddie Brown’s 220 in 1984 against Boston College and Wesley Carroll’s 208 in 1990 versus California.
“It’s exciting,” Dorsett said of his day. “Have to keep doing what I’m doing. Can’t get complacent. Every time I have games like this, I have to make sure I work harder. We’re a real unselfish group.”
Dorsett has eight catches this season, four for touchdowns.
“It’s a trust in Brad a lot more,” Dorsett told WQAM. “Brad is more comfortable with us back there. He’s a lot more poised. He knows we have his back.”
### Other Canes receiving numbers: Walford 3 for 57, Braxton Berrios 3 for 44 (including a six-yard touchdown), Malcolm Lewis 3 for 11; and Duke Johnson 2 for 20.
UM did this without Stacy Coley, who missed the game with a shoulder injury.
### More from Golden, on WQAM: “Coaches did a good job of identifying what we’re going to see from this group. I felt confident all week. [The four practice] days were good for Brad. We executed really well. I thought we played physical on defense. We were running to the ball and striking. The safeties were physical.”
### UM’s running game was solid, with 146 yards on 35 carries. Johnson had 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 33-yard TD run, and Gus Edwards broke tackles on both his carries, with one going for a 27-yard touchdown and other gaining 11 yards. Joe Yearby’s numbers were modest (10 for 32), and Trayone Gray got two late carries for nine yards.
### Arkansas State finished with 28 more plays than UM (89 to 61) but was outgained by the Hurricanes, 488 to 321.
“The defense got so much better –-- light years [ahead],” Dorsett said.
### UM held A-State to 120 yards in the second half and Miami's pass rush was terrific after intermission, including one scintillating sequence featuring three straight sacks (two by Ufomba Kamalu and one by Deon Bush on a blitz). Thurston Armbrister collected his fourth sack of the season, Miami’s fourth and final sack of the game.
“We’re at the point now where it’s not how long is he going to continue to do this,” Golden said of Armbrister. “He is what he is. He’s long, strong, 240 pounds, has better stamina than he has ever had.”
Anthony Chickillo deflected a pass. Raphael Kirby had an interception on a fake punt. And besides the sack, Bush also had six tackles and a forced fumble.
"It was a good day overall," Bush said on WQAM. "Still made mistakes we have to correct on Monday. At the end of the day, it was a W against a good team. It took a lot of studying and conditioning" against that high tempo.
"I don't think there's any coach in America that works harder than [Mark] D'Onofrio," Bush said. He's a whiz at the game, has us in all the right plays all the time."
### A-State averaged just 3.6 yards on its 89 plays. “It’s yards per play and red zone stops,” Golden said. “[A-State] has good talent, they’re quick. Our guys responded really well. We had to play a lot of guys because of the pace of that first quarter.”
### Concerns? UM’s third-down defense had some very good moments Saturday but wasn’t good enough overall, allowing conversions on 9 of 21 attempts. A-State quarterback Fredi Knighten was 7 for 10 for 89 yards on third downs, closing 22 for 40 for 217 yards overall.
UM missed too many tackles, with Jamal Carter whiffing on at least two. Tracy Howard’s coverage remains shaky at times and he had a pass interference call.
And UM committed too many penalties (11 for 93). “The selfish penalties will kill you,” Golden said of Kamalu slamming down the Arkansas State quarterback.
### Golden said: "I wish we had gotten a little more from the twos… Chad Thomas, Darrion Owens, the twos played a lot of football for us."
### Al Golden said in the postgame news conference that he expects suspended Al-Quadin Muhammad to return to UM next semester.
### Four-star running back Jordan Cronkrite de-committed from UM, telling a Gator web site that UM coaches haven't called him recently. But UM still has oral commitments from two other four-star backs: Jordan Scarlett and Dexter Williams. And another highly-regarded back, Booker T. Washington's Mark Walton, said he hopes to graduate a year early, next June, and enroll at UM next summer.
### Please check back later for the Sunday buzz, including lots of Heat, Dolphins and Giancarlo Stanton chatter… Twitter: @flasportsbuzz