Miami 49, USF 21: Postgame takeaways & observations

The Miami Hurricanes watched quarterback Stephen Morris limp off the field
during the first half in a game clearly going their way.

No, we’re not talking about last week’s 77-7 victory against Savannah State at
Sun Life Stadium where the senior’s night ended early after he suffered an
ankle-bone bruise.

This time, it was Saturday against South Florida, which fell victim to the
visiting Hurricanes 49-21. Morris played extremely well until apparently aggravating
the ankle injury early in the second quarter. He did not return.

Although a better team than Savannah State of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference,
the American Athletic Conference’s Bulls were no match for the Hurricanes. Next
week, Atlantic Coast Conference play will begin when Miami (4-0) hosts Georgia
Tech.

Here are a few things to take away from Miami’s victory against USF:

1. Stephen Morris’ ankle injury is reason for concern.

The senior quarterback looked like Dan Marino while helping to build a 21-7 lead
after one period. He was 11 of 16 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns when he limped
off with just less than 12 minutes left in the second quarter.

While Morris’ injury might not be as severe as, say, a knee or shoulder injury,
a lingering ankle issue could affect the passer’s performance.

Morris was at his best when, under pressure, he threw a 34-yard scoring pass to
Stacy Coley with 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Even UM coach Al
Golden couldn’t help himself, running on the field and jumping on Morris in
celebration.

The presence of Ryan Williams helps lessen (not eliminate) concerns about
Morris’ health. The junior completed 8 of 14 for 153 yards and a TD in relief.

2. The Hurricanes receivers are beginning to show what had been expected.

Through the team’s 3-0 start, Miami’s passing attack was not clicking on all
cylinders. Was it Morris being out of sync with the receivers? Or perhaps it was
expected during sa transition with new offensive coordinator James Coley?

There were no such questions Saturday, especially during a first half in which
the Hurricanes built a 35-7 lead.

The four top receivers each connected on a big pass play — Phillip Dorsett (54
yards), Herb Waters (54 yards), Stacy Coley (34 yards for a TD) and Allen Hurns
(31). Coley (twice) and Waters each had TD receptions.

3. The defense showed pressure, but was susceptible to the run.

A defense that had 13 sacks all of last year, had 3 to run its season total to
14. Pressure by defensive end Shayon Green forced a fumble by QB Steven Bench in
the end zone, with the ball recovered by linebacker Jimmy Gaines for a TD.

That was “D” positive. However, the Bulls answered Miami’s opening drive with a
5-play, 75-yard scoring drive that temporarily tied the score. The big play was
Marcus Shaw’s 44-yard run.

Shaw also ran for 20 yards on a first-and-10 from USF’s 18 late in the first
quarter. When you have an opponent pinned deep, the last thing you want to
surrender is a long run.

4. Special Teams better avoid costly penalties in conference.

Duke Johnson returned a kick more than 100 yards for a TD, which was called back
due to a holding penalty on Maurice Hagens.

Phillip Dorsett returned a punt 57 yards, another long gainer nullified by a
flag (Tracy Howard’s illegal block).

Another self-inflicted wound by the Special Teams was Matt Goudis’ missed a
23-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the first half.

5. There’s a “big back” need the end zone.

Even after adding bulk during the offseason, Duke Johnson fails to give UM a
bruising back for near the goal-line. Johnson fumbled twice inside the Bulls’ 3.

During the week, Golden said the Hurricanes wanted to start getting contributions
from young players such as freshman running back Gus Edwards.

“Gus the Bus” was given a chance in the third quarter, but he seemed a bit
tentative on 3 straight scoreless carries from the 2.

Dallas Crawford replaced Edwards on fourth down, and the redshirt sophomore
worked hard to score on a 1-yard run.

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net

or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas