Duke Johnson did everything for the Miami Hurricanes Friday night. Whether he was running the ball or catching the ball, he carried the Hurricanes to a 34-6 victory over Florida Atlantic.
Johnson was a workhorse against FAU. From the first snap he looked to be in midseason form, taking a dump off pass and scampering down the sideline for a 38-yard gain. Johnson finished the game with 224 total yards, including a 53-yard touchdown run. 194 of those yards came in the FIRST half, 86 more than the entire FAU team.
Johnson rushed for 186 yards on 19 carries, averaging nearly ten yards a carry. The sophomore sensation has become a spectacle to watch, his speed and cutting ability unlike any Miami has seen in recent years.
But this was against FAU. Against an inferior opponent that Miami was supposed to soundly beat.
Next Saturday is a much greater test. The Florida Gators are coming to town. Every snap will be crucial. So will every yard. And Johnson won’t be able to do it all alone again.
While Johnson had a fantastic night for Miami, the passing game was out of sync from the start.
Quarterback Stephen Morris finished the night just 15 of 27 passing for 160 yards and a touchdown. At first glance those stats don’t look too bad considering Morris didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. But there were instances throughout the game that made you shake your head if you were a Hurricanes fan.
Freshman wide receiver Stacy Coley dropped two touchdown passes early in the game. Morris also completed only two passes to last year’s leading receiver Phillip Dorsett for just 14 yards and only one receiver caught more than three passes on the night. That was Allen Hurns, who caught five for 34 yards.
On the third play of the second half Morris also made a very uncharacteristic mistake. While under pressure he threw an ill-advised pass into the middle of the field that was intercepted by FAU linebacker Andrae Kirk. Morris hadn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 20 of last season. He also only managed to complete four passes over 15 yards on the night, the longest being a dump off pass to Johnson on the first offensive play of the game.
On top of all of those miscues, junior wide receiver Rashawn Scott reportedly left the game with a broken collarbone and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
To play devil’s advocate, yes I understand it was only the first game of the season and teams are usually working out the kinks during the first week. Al Golden and the coaching staff will most likely make adjustments and try to make sure those same miscues don’t happen again. But even with adjustments, the passing game last night still raises some questions heading into next week’s game against Florida
The Gators had one of the best scoring defenses in the country a season ago. They only surrendered more than 20 points twice in 2012. They held Toledo to six points today in their season opener. Points will be hard to come by next Saturday and Miami needs to be clicking on all cylinders offensively to have a chance to win.
Every snap. Every yard. Every point. They will all matter. But it will have to be a collective effort. It can’t be just the Duke Johnson show. It has to be the Miami Hurricanes show.