Miami (FL) vs. Savannah State Game Review

By: Shasky Clarke

(15) Miami 77, Savannah State 7

The Hurricanes, spearheaded by a 95 yard Duke Johnson opening kickoff return, got off to a fast start, scoring in the first thirty seconds of the game and never letting up. Young players on both sides of the ball received ample playing time and had no problem replicating the starters’ success. Despite the lack of real competition, a game like this provides a large amount of optimism for the program in the near future, as Miami’s depth of talent was on full display.

Quarterback Ryan Williams

Stephen Morris exited the game early with a bone bruise in his lower leg. But 6’6” junior Ryan Williams came in and showcased his release, accuracy, and overall poise and decision-making going 11-13 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Morris has not been a high completion percentage passer thus far this year, and while he has a bigger arm and more pure athleticism, Williams may be a more consistently efficient thrower with much better size. Morris is the leader of the team. But it is not clear that he’s the best quarterback on the team.

Running Back Depth

The backup running backs toted the rock. Shifty Dallas Crawford, veteran Eduardo Clements, and upright running freshman Gus Edwards had an easy time finding running room and combined for 236 yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries.

Pass Catchers

Freshman receiver Stacy Coley showed off his dynamic open field running ability as a return-man and catching a touchdown. New junior college transfer tight end Beau Sandland’s size and athleticism were on display, leading the team with six catches for 76 yards and a score. At 6’6” and 250 pounds, Sandland is a legitimate pass catching weapon, combined with Clive Walford, going forward.

Offensive Line

Aside from some inconsistency executing and sustaining run blocks early, including a play where right guard Brandon Linder stumbled on a pull to the left, the offensive line did what it was expected to do. The right side of Linder and Seantrel Henderson is simply one of the best guard-tackle combos in the country.

But for this unit, this game was about getting young players significant playing time. 6’5” 304-pound freshman Alex Gall, 6’6” 310-pound sophomore Hunter Wells and 6’8” 312-pound redshirt freshman Taylor Gadbois entered in the first half and spent time at left guard, center/right guard and right tackle.

Defensive End Al-Quadin Muhammad

The 6’3” 230-pound freshman end flashed his dominant physical talent, using his supreme quickness and explosiveness as well as his physicality to grab two sacks early in Saturday’s game. He is well on his way to being the type of All-American pass rushing player that he was predicted to be as an elite recruit.

Outside Linebacker Alex Figueroa

Physical and versatile freshman Alex Figueroa got the start in the place of Thurston Armbrister. Figueroa has the ability to rush the passer as a stand-up outside linebacker on the line, as well as stick to guys in coverage.

Cornerback LaDarius Gunter

At 6’1” 200, the junior was the beneficiary of poor Savannah State quarterback play, picking off a pass in the first half.  Even more impressive, he displayed his massive hitting ability, violently laying out Tigers star receiver Simon Heyward in the open field on an end-around.

Safety Deon Bush

Deon Bush saw his first action recovering from a sports hernia. Bush didn’t play well, whiffing on multiple open field tackles and allowing at least one catch in coverage. The Hurricanes, nonetheless, are relatively deep at safety and Bush has the talent to bounce back and be the team’s best defensive back.

Rankings

Miami moves up one spot in the AP Poll and two spots in the Coaches Poll due in large part to Michigan barely escaping their game at Connecticut 24-21 and, possibly, Miami’s 77-7 victory.

What’s Next

Miami: 9/28, away at South Florida

Savannah State: 9/28, home vs. Delaware State