The Miami Hurricanes wanted to work on themselves.
In the process, they tore apart poor little Savannah State.
Miami thrashed the Tigers 77-7 Saturday at Sun Life Stadium for its largest margin of victory ever and most points in UM history.
UM’s rout of the Football Championship Subdivision Tigers was so utterly thorough that Hurricanes coach Al Golden and Savannah State coach Earnest Wilson III agreed to shorten the fourth quarter from the usual 15 minutes to 12.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
But during the debacle, the Hurricanes lost starting quarterback Stephen Morris to a right-ankle sprain. Morris limped into the locker room late in the first quarter and had X-rays that did not reveal a break.
“The X-rays are negative,” Golden said. “We’ll be cautious with him, get him off his feet or whatever for the next 48 hours.
“But it looks like it’ll be fine.”
The Canes (3-0) go on the road for the first time this season Saturday in Tampa, where they will face an unimpressive USF team (0-3) at Raymond James Stadium.
Morris will have plenty of time to recuperate, if need be, before the Canes open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against Georgia Tech (3-0) on Oct. 5 at Sun Life Stadium.
The USF Bulls, who were off Saturday, have losses that include a season-opening 53-21 clunker to McNeese State and 28-10 to FAU on Sept. 14 in Boca Raton.
In the little time he was in — about six minutes — Morris led the Canes on two scoring drives, began the third and did enough to surpass Canes quarterback great Jim Kelly in moving to 10th place on UM’s all-time passing list with 5,272 yards.
Golden was asked what he thought when he saw Morris go down.
“That was my greatest fear from the time it got to 35-0,” Golden said. “We went quickly to second and then quickly to third teams. I had a long talk with Coach [Wilson] before and a long talk with him after.
“I’ve been there. I was on the other side of those at Temple. I wanted to make sure he knew we were doing everything in our power not to [run up the score], and I know on his end he was trying to teach his team how to keep fighting. I’ve been in his shoes.
“I just wanted him to know from our standpoint, we were trying to be gracious in victory and not do anything dumb.”
Enter fourth-year junior quarterback Ryan Williams, who finished what Morris had begun with a strong performance.
Williams came in with 8:51 left in the first quarter and completed 11 of 13 passes for 176 yards and touchdowns to Dallas Crawford and Stacy Coley.
“I just went in and did what they asked me to do — nothing more, nothing less,” Williams said.
Even redshirt freshman quarterback Gray Crow began his UM career in stellar fashion. Crow completed all six of his passes for 55 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to tight end Beau Sandland — Sandland’s first touchdown as a Hurricane.
Backup tailback Crawford scored three touchdowns, receiver Allen Hurns added another, Sandland got his and Coley scored on an 88-yard kickoff return.
“We worked really hard the past two weeks coming out of the Florida game and working on our execution,” Crawford said. “It paid off [Saturday night].”
Crawford said he “heard on the sideline” about UM’s single-game scoring record.
“That’s a great accomplishment,” he said, adding that “we didn’t go in expecting to do that. It feels good.”
The Canes gained 637 yards of total offense, almost evenly split at 324 rushing and 313 passing. It was UM’s fifth largest yardage total in history, behind its 646 yards last year at Duke.
Freshman bruiser Gus Edwards, a 6-2, 225-pound true freshman, ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries — good for 9.4 yards a carry.
In their first nine drives, the Canes scored eight touchdowns — four passing and four rushing. The only time they didn’t convert for a score was when they were stopped at halftime.
UM scored two touchdowns on its first three offensive plays, aided by Duke Johnson’s 95-yard kickoff return to begin the game. Johnson scored his only touchdown with 6:21 left in the first quarter. He left the game as the first quarter ended and didn’t return.
Defensively, the Canes had four interceptions, one apiece by A.J. Highsmith, Ladarius Gunter, Earl Moore and Tyriq McCord.
UM had four sacks, two by Al-Quadin Muhammad.
Before this, UM’s greatest margin of victory was 68 points — a 75-7 pounding of Fordham on Oct. 29, 1954, at the Orange Bowl.