Black PR Wire Newsroom
(BLACK PR WIRE) – When the 2011 season came to a close last November, Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Al Golden said that the number one goal for his team in the offseason would be to become better conditioned and stronger so that the players would be able to finish their games and play hard the entire 60 minutes. Well, after seeing these young Hurricanes battle back from a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter and hang on to register a convincing 41-32 road win against ACC conference foe, Boston College – consider it done, Coach.
Miami’s offense scored 20 of its 41 points in the second half and their defense stopped a surging Boston College team when it most counted. Beginning in the middle of the 3rd quarter, the Miami defense stopped Boston College four straight times, allowing Miami’s offense to score 20 unanswered points, pulling away from a 23-21 deficit and marching toward a 41-23 Miami lead.
Not to say that the Miami defense won’t need to vastly improve and quickly as the Hurricanes again travel next week, this time to Manhattan, KS, to take on the 22nd ranked Kansas State Wildcats. Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig had a record day against the Miami defense, completing 31 of 52 passes for a total of 441 yards. The Golden Eagles amassed over 537 yards of total offense.
And while BC gained almost all of their yards through the air, Miami’s offense couldn’t have been more balanced, with 208 rushing yards and 207 passing yards. And that balanced attack may have contributed most to the production of the game’s biggest star, true freshman RB Duke Johnson, who broke away and sprinted to two electrifying touchdown runs, the first for 54 yards and the second for 56 yards. On both runs, Johnson displayed an incredible combination of toughness, balance and breakaway speed, especially for someone who just 4 months earlier was dancing at his high school prom. On his first touchdown, Johnson broke through at least 5 tackles to get to the end zone.
It truly is noteworthy that coaches were so confident in the freshman Johnson, that they had him also catch passes and return kicks, adding another 79 yards of offense to his 135 rushing total. Even with his two incredible touchdown runs, his most important play, in terms of the outcome of this game, may very well have been his recovery of a botched kickoff return by a teammate. With Miami clinging to a one point 21-20 halftime lead, Boston College pooched their kickoff to start the second half. Miami’s Mike James looked poised to catch the short kick, but teammate Dyron Dye apparently didn’t see James and they both collided as the ball came down. The football bounced back to the Miami 18 yard line where Johnson pounced on it just as a number of Boston College players arrived at the scene. Had Boston College recovered this kick, it could have been a disastrous start to the second half.
Instead, the Hurricanes relied on the poised leadership of quarterback Stephen Morris, who kept calm and confident throughout the game. Morris, a junior, completed 28 of his 45 passes, with 1 TD and 1 INT. Morris’ leadership was never more evident than when, in the first quarter, he threw a 20 yard strike to WR Rashawn Scott, but the ball bounced high off of Scott’s chest and into the hands of a Boston College defender. When Morris came off the field, he immediately went to Scott who had his head down while sitting on the bench. Morris was seen telling Scott, “Forget that play, and be ready - because I’m coming right back to you.”
This improved level of trust was seen in all of Miami’s offensive players, as together they made 11 of 21 third down conversions. During the last game of 2011, played against this same Boston College team, the Hurricanes managed only three third down conversions in 11 attempts.
To be sure, next week’s game at Kansas State will be another big challenge for the young Miami football team. But the Hurricanes have already met head-on one big challenge, and if their offense continues to play well, and their defense continues to gel and improve each week, which is a trademark of Coach Golden’s football teams, then there is a good chance that the Hurricanes could start the season with two big victories for the first time since 2009.