Al Golden said the plan was to get his starters out early and get a good look at his second- and third-team players.
If the Hurricanes can take anything of substance from their 77-7 bludgeoning of Savannah State on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium, it’s more game film of their freshmen and sophomores, who did nothing really to disappoint against an inferior opponent.
Freshman running back Gus Edwards, a 6-2, 225-pound wrecking ball the team is hoping can contribute more in short-yardage situations and be a nice changeup for the elusive Duke Johnson, ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns.
Receiver Stacy Coley, who had a case of the drops when he played against FAU in the season opener, showed no jitters in his first action since.
He caught three passes for 16 yards and one touchdown, and displayed his dangerous ability in the return game, taking back a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and shaking and baking his way to a 20-yard return on a punt.
“With the drops against FAU, it felt great to come back against Savannah State,” Coley said. “[On the kick return for the touchdown] it felt great to see green grass and people going crazy.”
Tight end Beau Sandland showed his ferocity in the passing game, leading the team with six catches for 76 yards and scoring on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Gray Crow.
Linebacker Jermaine Grace led the team with five tackles. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad had his first two sacks in a Hurricanes uniform. And plenty of others had their moments.
“I think we learned about a lot of individuals,” Golden said. “Certainly, [backup quarterback] Ryan Williams stepped up. Gus Edwards stepped up. Beau Sandland stepped up. We learned a little bit about Stacy. There were defensive guys who played hard, and I think we’re coming out of it healthy, which is my primary concern once it got a little lopsided.”
Edwards said coaches had been telling him all week to get ready, and he got his first two carries in the second quarter. He reeled off a 21-yard dash to the Tigers’ 1-yard line on his first carry. On the next play, he pummeled his way into the end zone to give UM a 49-0 lead heading into halftime.
“I think that’s what the coaches want me to step up and do — to be a big guy that runs between the tackles,” said Edwards, who had six carries for 19 yards against FAU in the opener but couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone. “Being on the goal line, me being a big guy, that has to be a big part of my game. I have to be 100 percent there.
“This game kind of gave me a feel for the atmosphere. Even though I played in the first game of the season, I didn’t play as much as I played here. I played a lot, maybe more than other guys. I got the feeling of basically playing a full game.”
Grace, who had just two tackles in the opener against FAU, shared the first tackle of the game with Dallas Crawford on the opening kickoff. The four-star linebacker out of Miramar High then played defense from the third quarter on, leading UM’s second- and third-team units in tackles.
“He was playing hard,” Golden said. “He’s got to study the game more. He’s got to prepare more. He has to learn that process. The older guys are trying to mentor him in that realm, and he has to be a bigger factor on special teams.”
Freshman linebacker Alex Figueroa lamented the fact that the Hurricanes gave up a 75-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, but he said it was nice to see the team “execute everything we wanted to do in practice.”