Hurricanes find salve for rushing woes
By MICHAEL SNYDER
Published September 10, 2006
MIAMI - This one was all about the future.
After a season-opening 13-10 loss to Florida State, No. 17 Miami was looking for some answers, some hope and . . . some semblance of an offense against Florida A&M.
The Hurricanes found what they were looking for - or some of it - in a 51-10 win over the Rattlers (0-2) before a small crowd of 40,208 at the Orange Bowl Saturday night.
With a game looming next weekend at No. 13 Louisville, the 'Canes showed enough promise - especially in the ground game - to offer hope they can get themselves in contention for a BCS bid.
"With the offense that Louisville has we know they have a lot of firepower," quarterback Kyle Wright said. "We may have to score a lot of points to come out of that game (on top) like we did in (2004) down here. It's something I'm glad we did tonight, come out and be efficient, put drives together. I was really happy with how all the running backs ran."
Running backs Javarris James, Tyrone Moss, Charlie Jones and Derron Thomas were impressive as UM rushed for 339 yards and passed for 224.
"We made a lot of progress," coach Larry Coker said. "I'm really proud of our offense. The efficiency was there. We didn't make mistakes."
The 'Canes scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.
Jones had more rushing yards than both teams combined for Monday on his first carry (13 yards). He capped the drive with a 1-yard burst into the end zone set up by a 19-yard run by James, the freshman cousin of former UM great and current Arizona Cardinals running back Edgerrin James.
"He's a terrific player," Coker said of James. "He's got that sixth sense like Edgerrin had, like the great ones have, to make people miss."
Wright, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 166 yards and the 21-yard TD pass to James, looked more comfortable than he did against FSU.
"That's something my cousin taught me," James said of his two-TD night. "He always told me to do what it takes to get into the end zone."
Coker decided to give backup Kirby Freeman some meaningful action and put him in for Wright with 2:40 to play in the half.
He tossed a ball up for grabs with no receiver in the area and was intercepted by Jason Beach, which set up Wesley Taylor's 44-yard field goal that made it 21-3 at the break. But Freeman threw a 5-yard TD to Jerrell Mabry while playing most of the second half.
Moss, a senior who torn the ACL in his left knee last year against Virginia Tech and was suspended for the opener, wasn't expected to see action.
"I didn't know how he'd respond, but he wanted to play," Coker said of Moss, who gained 64 yards on eight carries. "I asked him how do you feel (before the game), he said, 'Coach I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready.' He's going to get better as the year progresses."
Moss extended UM's lead to 28-3 early in the third. He took the handoff from Wright and went behind the left side of Miami's line, which featured redshirt freshman tackle Chris Rutledge making his first start for the injured Reggie Youngblood. He bounced to the outside and scored from 20 yards.
"My knee feels great," Moss said. "The running backs have really worked hard on pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield. With this offense, that's something we'll do more of."
FAMU scored on a 7-yard pass from Leon Camel, 10-of-19 for 109 yards, to Roosevelt Kiser. Camel played in place of starter Albert Chester.
Beating FAMU at home is one thing. Beating the Cardinals, who routed Temple 62-0, on the road likely will prove considerably more difficult.
But a game there will prove a whole lot more about this year's 'Canes, who are a work in progress on both sides of the ball, according to Coker.
"Their offense made our defense look bad at times," Coker said. "Our defense didn't play well. I know it, they know it and everybody in the stadium knows it."