It wasn’t his finest performance of the season, but Duke Johnson atoned for his first fumble in a Hurricanes uniform Saturday by scoring his Atlantic Coast Conference freshman-leading 11th touchdown and closing the gap on Clinton Portis for UM’s rookie rushing record.
“It was my first fumble since the [Class 5A] state championship game last year,” said Johnson, the Miami Norland grad who fumbled diving into the end zone in the second quarter but made up for it with an 8-yard, third-quarter scoring run.
“I was in the air too long, hit from the backside and the ball came out. I’m not really too concerned with diving and fumbling. As soon as I fumble, I let that play go and continue my game.”
With his 66 yards on 13 carries Saturday, Johnson now has 771 rushing yards on the season and is just 68 yards off the pace from the UM freshman record set by Portis (839 yards in 1999).
With 95 yards against USF, Johnson’s all-purpose total of 1,783 yards now ranks second on Miami’s single-season all-purpose yards list. He trails only Willis McGahee (2,108).
Jedd Fisch continued to delve deep into his bag of tricks to get the Canes offense going — and it worked for the most part.
The Hurricanes offensive coordinator called a flea-flicker, a Statue of Liberty play, had third-string running back Dallas Crawford line up at quarterback before handing it off, and split both of his offensive tackles — Seantrel Henderson and Malcolm Bunche — out wide in formation on the first play from scrimmage.
“I knew we were going to go in and pull something out,” said receiver Phillip Dorsett. “It kind of got us going, and we built off that.”
Each trick play produced positive yardage and altogether led to nine points.
Tight end Clive Walford caught both of the passes on the trick plays from quarterback Stephen Morris. First, Walford hauled in a 34-yard pass over the middle on the game’s opening play. Then, he caught a 36-yard pass on the flea-flicker in the second quarter. Both drives led to field goals.
Johnson picked up just 4 yards on Crawford’s handoff in the first quarter, then rebounded by picking up 13 yards on the Statue of Liberty handoff from Morris. The latter led to the Canes’ second field goal.
In UM’s three previous games, Fisch had called on Crawford, Johnson and receiver Dorsett to throw passes on trick plays. The trio combined to go 3 for 4 for 34 yards and one TD.
• Freshman safety Rayshawn Jenkins made his first start of the season and not only led UM with seven tackles, but he also recorded his first interception of the season in the second quarter.
“I think he’s talented. That rookie class has really stepped up. I don’t know if he’s the ninth or 10th freshman who has started for us this year, but they’ve stepped up,” coach Al Golden said.
• With four field goals Saturday, kicker Jake Wieclaw has now hit 10 in a row dating back to the FSU game. The last time Wieclaw missed a field goal was in the second quarter against Notre Dame.
• With UM ahead 40-9 late in the game, Crawford finally got his first carry of the season, and he picked up 8 yards. He finished with 10 yards on three attempts.
• Sophomore Anthony Chickillo had a blocked field goal in the first half against USF. He also had three tackles.