Monday night’s season opener turned out to be the collegiate debuts of at least seven Hurricanes true freshmen.
Quarterback Brad Kaaya was the only starter, but running back Joe Yearby (made a 4-yard catch), defensive end Chad Thomas (made a tackle), safety Marques Gayot (special teams), linebacker Juwon Young (was flagged on special teams), receiver Braxton Berrios (one catch for minus-1 yard) and defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins all saw action in the first half.
The others Canes starters on defense were cornerbacks Artie Burns and Ladarius Gunter, safeties Deon Bush and Dallas Crawford, and linebackers Denzel Perryman, Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Tyriq McCord.
Miami’s offensive starters included running back Duke Johnson, receivers Stacy Coley, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Lewis, tight end Clive Walford. The offensive line from left to right was Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Daniel Isidora and Taylor Gadbois.
It was the first career starts for Kirby, McCord, Isidora and Gadbois.
Kaaya’s mother, Angela Means, flew from California to Cincinnati to join her brother, who drove with her to Louisville for Kaaya’s first game as a Hurricane.
She said she wanted to keep a low profile and would try to “kind of sneak into the stadium” so people wouldn’t recognize her. But she was nonetheless spotted wearing an orange shirt that said “Kaaya’s momma” with his jersey No. 15 on it.
As her son ran out onto the field for warmups before the game she was overcome with emotion. “Today is all about Bradley,” she said by phone before the game.
A former actress, Means’ part as the neighborhood pot-smoking Felicia in the 1995 cult comedy “Friday,” spurred the catchphrase “Bye, Felicia,” as a dismissive goodbye to someone with whom you don’t want to associate.
Means said that she and Brad both expected the Louisville crowd to chant “Bye Felicia” and hold up signs with a picture of her character from Friday.
“I mean, if [UM] linebacker Denzel Perryman couldn’t rattle him [in practice], how is ‘Bye Felicia,’ going to rattle him?” Means said. “What they are failing to realize is Felicia is a fictitious character, and if you put up pictures of me around the stadium, he’s only going to see his mom, which offers him comfort.”
Concluded Means: “Brad is in the zone.”
Louisville might as well be in South Florida.
According to the UL game notes, 30 Cardinals are from Florida, including 16 from Miami-Dade County. They are FB Lamar Atkins (Norland); LB Keith Brown (Norland); LB James Burgess (Homestead); DB Charles Gaines (Central); WR Michaelee Harris (Northwestern); DB Gerrod Holliman (Southridge); DB Brandon Joseph (Northwestern); DB Andrew Johnson (Southridge); RB Corvin Lamb (Northwestern); OL John Miller (Central); RB Brandon Radcliff (Columbus); DB Jermaine Reve (Northwestern); WR Eli Rogers (Northwestern); OL Pedro Sibiea (Homestead); DE Stacy Thomas (Gulliver Prep); DB Trumaine Washington (Killian).
Harris, Lamb, Rogers, Reve and Joseph all played in high school with current Hurricane defensive backs Burns and Ryan Mayes and defensive end Mike Smith. Burgess — the son of former UM linebacker James Burgess Sr. — and Sibiea played with UM receiver Herb Waters. Brown and Atkins won a state championship at Norland in 2011 with current Hurricanes tailback Johnson and Flowers.
Andrew Johnson and Holliman played with UM safety Jamal Carter at Southridge. Radcliff and Bush played together at Columbus, each graduating in 2012.