10 Takeaways from Miami's Win over Louisville
By Christy Cabrera Chirinos
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – It was Senior Day. Homecoming. And the Hurricanes knew they had a chance to become bowl eligible and prove they’d turned the corner and could build on the momentum they’d seized after wins at Pittsburgh and Florida State in recent weeks.
Plenty was on the line when Miami took the field at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday to face a Louisville team that had won three of its last four under first-year coach Scott Satterfield.
And this is how it ended: with the Hurricanes carrying their seniors off the field, their redshirt freshman quarterback breaking records and Miami reveling in its best offensive performance of the year, a 52-27 win over the Cardinals that ensured the season will continue into December.
“It’s starting to look the way that we want it to look,” Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said. “We want to be a team that gets better as the year goes on and we are hoping that this is now what we can be going forward.”
Next week, Miami’s players and coaches will have the chance to catch their breath before turning their focus to what could be an emotional return to the site of the Orange Bowl when the Hurricanes face FIU at Marlins Park on Nov. 23.
Before that, though, here’s some of what the Hurricanes can take from their win over the Cardinals.
1. The Canes are officially on a win streak – and they’re bowl bound, too
Before Saturday’s home finale, the last time the Hurricanes were at Hard Rock Stadium, they were walking off the field, dejected and at a crossroads after a disappointing loss to Georgia Tech.
They’ve become a different team since, eking out a 16-12 win at Pittsburgh, putting on a show in a 27-10 win over Florida State and then thoroughly dominating against Louisville.
Miami’s newly-minted win streak marks the first time the Hurricanes have won three straight in more than a year and it puts them in a position to not only finish the regular season on a positive note, but extend the season, period.
Saturday’s win also Miami’s sixth of the season, meaning the Hurricanes are now bowl eligible. Where they’ll spend part of December is still to be determined, but now the Hurricanes know that for the seventh straight season, they’ll get to go bowling.
That’s nothing to take for granted given Miami’s tough 3-4 start.
2. Jarren Williams makes history
Bernie Kosar. Steve Walsh. Ken Dorsey. Brock Berlin. Kyle Wright. Stephen Morris. Brad Kaaya.
On Saturday afternoon, Jarren Williams passed them all in the Miami record book.
The redshirt freshman quarterback, who on Saturday made just the sixth start of his career, was 15-of-22 for 253 yards and six touchdowns. No quarterback in Miami history has thrown as many touchdowns in a single game, with Kosar, Walsh, Dorsey, Berlin, Wright and Morris each throwing five in a game during their respective Hurricanes careers.
Williams’ six touchdowns not only set a Miami school record – they tied an ACC record, too.
Making his performance even more impressive? The fact he wasn’t throwing in ideal conditions, with rain coming down for most of the afternoon. Miami’s large margin of victory also meant Williams did not finish the game, with redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry entering the game in the fourth quarter.
After the win, Williams made it clear that while he was happy with his performance, he was determined to continue improving and becoming a part of Miami’s quarterback tradition.
“That’s why you come to The U. You come here to set records. If you don’t have that mindset, you shouldn’t be here,” Williams said Saturday. “Guys come here to be great and do things that others haven’t. That’s the standard at Miami.”
3. Jimmy Murphy has another moment
Running back Jimmy Murphy has been one of the breakout stars of Miami’s season, but he hasn’t been a surprise to his teammates and coaches, who’ve long had nothing but praise for the former walk-on who has become a special teams force.
Earlier this season, during Miami’s 63-0 win over Bethune-Cookman, Murphy had a viral moment when he scored on a 2-yard run that gave him the opportunity to wear the Hurricanes’ new Touchdown Rings.
Saturday, Murphy got more jewelry when during the third quarter, he recovered a Louisville fumble on an attempted punt return.
The turnover led to a Mike Harley touchdown – and a lighthearted scene on the Hurricanes sideline when Murphy, who was boisterously celebrating – unwittingly unlocked the clasp on Miami’s famed Turnover Chain.
No, the chain didn’t break – but once again, the Internet did, thanks to Murphy.
“That would be a Jimmy Murphy thing to do because he is so physical and does everything full-speed,” Diaz quipped later. “It makes sense that the Turnover Chain had no chance against him.”
Said Murphy, “The chain is amazing. I didn’t even know I had it. I was just filled with energy and when they brought it out, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s mine!’ so I just took it. And I forgot I was wearing a helmet and I didn’t break it. I hope I didn’t. I’m sure there’s words I shouldn’t have said online or onscreen, so, I want to apologize for that.”
4. Miami’s senior defenders had a day
After back-to-back dominant performances by the defense against Pittsburgh and Florida State, the Hurricanes gave up some big plays against Louisville.
But, Miami’s defense still made an impact, forcing two interceptions, collecting three sacks and holding the Cardinals to just 5-of-14 on third-down conversion attempts.
Additionally, some of the players who came up with big plays Saturday were some of the seniors playing their final home game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Linebacker Michael Pinckney led the defense with a team-high eight tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Safety Robert Knowles added seven tackles and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman had six tackles, including a team-high four TFLs.
Not a bad way to finish one last game at Hard Rock.
“We came into the game knowing all of the emotions that were going to be behind the game and it was big that we came into the game with focus,” Pinckney said. “I think that it was a great job from the older guys and all the leaders on the team. We just rallied everybody and let them know it’s not going to be as fun if we don’t get the win. We just did our jobs tonight.”
5. DeeJay does it – again
Week in and week out, running back DeeJay Dallas finds ways to deliver for the Hurricanes.
The junior had another big day against Louisville, rushing for a game-high 96 yards that included a long rush of 20 yards. His 14-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter gave Miami a 21-7 lead and helped set the tone for the offensive onslaught that would come all afternoon.
Ultimately, Dallas was one of three players along with receivers K.J. Osborn and Harley to finish the day with more than 100 all-purpose yards.
6. Mike Harley comes up big
With Brevin Jordan – Miami’s top pass catcher – out Saturday because of an injury, the Hurricanes knew they’d need someone to step up in the receiving game.
Harley, it turns out, was the player to do it.
The junior finished with a team-high six catches for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns. He was also part of history, catching Williams’ school-record breaking sixth touchdown of the day, a 28-yarder with 6:59 left in the third quarter.
Together, Harley and Dee Wiggins became the first two receivers to catch two touchdowns each for Miami since Stacy Coley and David Njoku did the same in 2016 against Duke.
“Three weeks ago, we came together as one team and today, we left it out on the field for the seniors,” Harley said. “I just feel like I just played my part and the things I’m doing in practice translated onto the field. I played a major role today and made history for myself.”
7. Camden Price delivers
It’s no secret the kicking game has been problematic at times this season for Miami,
But maybe, just like the Hurricanes as a whole, things have shifted?
Against Louisville, kicker Camden Price converted on all seven of his extra-point tries and hit his lone field goal attempt, a 24-yarder late in the third quarter.
That performance came after Price went 2-for-3 on field goals and connected on all three of his point-after attempts against Florida State.
Have the Hurricanes found a way to solve their kicking woes? It’s possible.
8. K.J. Osborn shining in the return game
Graduate transfer K.J. Osborn has quickly found a way to make an impact at Miami.
Since joining the Hurricanes, he’s become one of the top targets for Hurricanes quarterbacks. And his willingness to mentor Miami’s young receivers has been key during some of the ups and downs of the season.
It turns out Osborn’s also become a big part of the Hurricanes’ return game.
Against Louisville on Saturday, his five kick returns netted Miami 104 yards, while his 38-yard punt return helped set up a touchdown one play later.
Osborn finished the day with a team-high 145 all-purpose yards and served again as a reminder of how important special teams plays can be.
9. Miami’s offensive line got the job done, again
As the Hurricanes have gotten better this season, so too has Miami’s offensive line.
For the third straight week, the line provided adequate protection for its quarterbacks and running backs, with Williams and Dallas both delivering big performances.
And after giving up two sacks against Pittsburgh and two sacks against Florida State, the Cardinals only broke through once Saturday to get Williams behind the line of scrimmage.
In all, Miami put together its most impressive offense of the season, totaling 449 yards and scoring 52 points. The line, no doubt, had a big part in that and its improvement has not gone unnoticed.
“They had an outstanding game. Against a team that plays a 3-4 and is sending somebody angling on every play, it’s an opportunity for somebody to forget who they have,” Diaz said. “I think that [offensive line coach] Butch Barry, number one, has done a great job of rebuilding their confidence and making them believe they can do it when there has been so much negativity around them coming out of last year and into the way we started this year.”
10. It’s time to take a breath and finish strong
After playing games in six straight weeks, the Hurricanes will get a chance to catch their breath with an off week this week before facing FIU at Marlins Park on Nov. 23 and closing out the regular season at Duke on Nov. 30.
It’ll be a time, Diaz said, for the Hurricanes to rest their bodies and make sure their academics are in order, as both the end of the season and the semester loom.
When the Canes return from their break, they’ll be trying to better their bowl stock and, depending on what happens across the Coastal Division in the coming weeks, they could even find themselves jockeying for a berth in the ACC Championship game.
Finishing strong has now become one of Miami’s biggest goals.
“We have to get our bodies back. We have played some pretty physical games the last couple of weeks. We do have some guys that have been playing with some bumps and bruises. We have the rare opportunity with this weird November bye week where we can get healthy,” Diaz said. “Academically, which people don’t think about, we only have three weeks left of the academic calendar. [We need] our guys to push hard because after this week, it is FIU week and then Thanksgiving break when we play Duke, so it’s very important for our guys to make up some ground and finish strong academically.
“And then, [we have] to focus our attention on these last two games, which will not be in our stadium. We have a cross-town game against FIU and then we have to go to Duke. So, we need to get ourselves prepared for both of those two contests so we can finish strong for this senior class. We won [game] number six today, so we know that we are going [bowling] somewhere. The goal of this team is to get Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Romeo Finley, Pat Bethel, Rob Knowles, those guys, to get them on a podium because they deserve it. The leadership we’ve had here the last three weeks when it could have gone either direction, and for those guys to lead this team the way they have – and there are others, Trevon Hill, K.J. Osborn, Jimmy Murphy – to get those guys on a podium is what they deserve for what they’ve done for the University of Miami Hurricanes these last few weeks.”