Holding their final scrimmage of fall camp at Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Hurricanes prepped for all available scenarios for Thursday’s season opener against UAB.
Having watched the Blazers on Thursday against Central Arkansas, coach Manny Diaz focused on simulating their Week 1 opponent to perfection. From splitting the team on both sides to putting the Hurricanes down 24-0 entering the second quarter, constructing for the road ahead was Friday’s goal.
“We wanted to create a little bit of urgency,” Diaz said. “Will there be panic? Will there be any type of pressing? I was very pleased. We kind of went out there and went to work.”
Regarding UAB’s 45-35 victory over the Bears, an FCS program, Diaz believes the scoring margin doesn’t suit how difficult Miami’s upcoming opponent will actually be.
“The score was very misleading,” he said. “The strength of UAB’s team is their defense, and Central Arkansas had a 4-yard touchdown, a 15-yard touchdown drive, they score on defense and they score twice against the backups in the fourth. You still see a very good defensive football team in UAB, an outstanding rushing attack, very balanced, multiple guys going in there and running for big yards, and you still see [Austin] Watkins as their leading receiver and the tight ends were dynamic, especially in the red zone.
“They’re a very experienced team who’s been in games. The moment will not be too big to them and we know we’ll have to play our best to beat them.”
Redshirt senior quarterback D’Eriq King led the offensive pack, throwing 24 of 34 for 330 yards and six touchdown passes, Diaz said in an interview later released by the program. In addition to his passing outburst, King ran for 84 yards on nine carries.
“You’re starting to see his ability, not only with his arm but with his feet, as well,” Diaz said. “Very encouraging.”
King threw the ball at a variety of receivers, including senior Mike Harley, who had 5 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Jeremiah Payton caught 3 passes for 95 yards and junior Mark Pope notched 2 touchdowns and 65 yards on 4 catches.
Running back Cam’Ron Harris and tight end Will Mallory both caught a touchdown pass, and freshman Mike Redding III garnered two scores.
As for the defensive end, redshirt freshman Jared Harrison-Hunte led UM with a pair of sacks. Nesta Silvera, Quincy Roche, Cameron Williams and Sam Brooks each had one sack.
According to Miami’s release, their starting defensive ends Jaelan Phillips and Roche, along with tackles Jonathan Ford and Silvera made their presence felt.
“We’re going to have to have some depth as well, so even when the other guys went in, I thought we were able to be disruptive with the front like what you would expect,” Diaz said. “It was a little bit of a mismatch the way was set up for tonight, but they still did their job and made it very difficult, not just on the running game, but for the quarterback to hold on the football, so we were pleased with that.”
Approaching their debut to the 2020 college football season, expect Miami to have its depth chart set in the coming days.