College Miami Hurricanes

No. 22 Miami Slams Savannah State 77-0, Canes Win Home Opener

While a win is – and always will be – a win, No. 22 Miami’s performance in its 77-0 victory over visiting Savannah State Saturday night was a fragrant balm to cover up its lackluster performance week one in Arlington, Texas.

The Hurricanes (1-1) were far and away the superior team compared to the FCS-level Tigers, and they treated the announced crowd of 60,307 fans at Hard Rock Stadium to an 11-touchdown night and their first win of 2018 – snapping a four-game losing streak since the 2017 season.

Miami head coach Mark Richt put it simply after the game.

“Winning is a lot more fun than losing,” Richt said to open the press conference.

Also, the lopsided affair set a new program record for margin of victory for the Canes (77 points) – snapping the previous record (70 points), which was set in 2013 when Miami pulverized Savannah State 77-7. Saturday’s win was also the first shutout recorded by the Canes since Richt and his staff took over.

The dominant performance – where Miami held a 28-0 lead at halftime – also set the table for seven different Hurricanes to score their first career touchdowns Saturday.

Freshman tight end Brevin Jordan led all receivers with his two touchdown receptions while totaling a game-high seven catches for 52 yards. Fellow freshman tight end Will Mallory also caught his first career touchdown pass, which put Miami on the board late in the first quarter.

Freshman running back Lorenzo Lingard showed why he was rated a five-star prospect coming out of high school on an impressive 64-yard touchdown run and ended up with a game-high 82 yards and two scores on four carries.

Jordan, a Las Vegas native, said he was in awe of everything that comes along with playing in front of the Hurricanes home crowd at Hard Rock Stadium – saying he was nervous about tripping while running out of the smoke pregame.

Quarterback Carousel

The real story of the game, however, was still Miami’s quarterback situation.

Once Miami jumped out to a 21-0 lead – thanks to a 67-yard Jeff Thomas reception that was ruled a touchdown after review – with 11:22 left in the second quarter, Richt pulled redshirt senior quarterback Malik Rosier and inserted redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry.

Perry ended up playing through the third quarter, completing 9 of his 14 passes for 93 yards with three touchdown passes – an 8-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence Cager in the second quarter and a pair of scoring strikes to Jordan in the third quarter – along with an interception.

Taken with the grain of salt for the quality of the opponent, Perry’s performance was solid. He showed the arm strength that he was heralded for coming out of high school and had good ball placement on his passes – allowing his receivers to make catches. But he also had a couple of questionable throws – like his third-quarter interception where he threw the ball directly to a Savannah State defender.

Richt took some of the responsibility for Perry’s turnover.

“I set him up for failure…inevitably, he’s one the one that let the ball go…but it was just a route that didn’t have a really good chance against [Savannah State]. I feel bad I called it,” Richt said.

“With a little bit of hindsight, I should’ve known better that that route that I called was not going to be a good route against the coverage that we were seeing.”

Rosier’s performance was fine – statistically. He was 8-for-12 for 131 yards with three total touchdowns (two passing and one rushing). But he was still a bit off on a handful of his passes, like he was last week against LSU and in the final three games of 2017, causing fans to boo during the first quarter.

The boos, though, don’t faze Rosier.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Cade Weldon also saw action Saturday. Weldon replaced Perry with just over a minute to play in the third quarter and ended up 1-of-2 for 14 yards with a 16-yard rushing touchdown on the second play of his career that put Miami up 49-0 with 0:51 left in the third.

Weldon’s night was short-lived. Richt pulled him after two series and inserted true freshman Jarren Williams with just over 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Williams played three offensive series and ended up completing 1 of his 3 passes for 17 yards and scoring on a 1-yard plunge late in the fourth quarter.

New Turnover Chain

As they should have, Miami – which will travel to play Toledo next week – put up gaudy.

UM outgained Savannah State 494-78 in total offensive yards. Miami held the Tigers to just five first downs, recorded three sacks, 14 tackles for loss, blocked a punt – which defensive lineman Scott Patchan scooped up and returned for a touchdown – blocked a field goal, and forced four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles.

The turnovers meant the Hurricanes got to break out its popular “Turnover Chain”, given to the player that records the turnover, but it had a special twist this year.

Last season, the chain featured a jewel-incrusted “U” logo at the end of it, this year’s chain features a blinged out Sebastian The Ibis and has been unofficially dubbed “Turnover Chain 2.0”.

Sophomore Jonathan Garvin led the team defensively, recording eight total tackles with four tackles for loss. Amari Carter finished with six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a ferocious block during a punt return. Freshman defensive tackle Nesta Silvera also finished with five tackles, as did junior linebacker Shaquille Quarterman – who also got a sack on the first play of the game.

Running Game Issues

The only place to nitpick on Miami’s win over Savannah State would be its run blocking.

Although they finished with 239 rushing yards, the Canes only had only gained 43 yards on the ground through the first two quarters.

The offensive line struggled to create viable running lanes for Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas early and Miami only averaged 2.4 yards per carry in the first half.

UM’s offensive line, which essentially has four new starters (two players who didn’t start in 2017 and two players who are starting at new positions in 2018), has to build continuity and find ways to create space up front and protect the quarterback against stiffer competition in the future.

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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