Dan Enos’ options were limited Saturday. It was his first game as the Miami Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator, and he had a quarterback making his first career start and two tackles doing the same, all against one of the best defenses in the Southeastern Conference.
The postgame stat sheet told the story of the coordinator’s challenges. Jarren Williams was sacked 10 times. The offensive line committed three false starts. The Hurricanes were bitten by three delays of game and an illegal substitution penalty.
Miami’s first drive in Orlando told the story of how the quarterbacks coach plans to solve it. The quarterback was a perfect 5 of 5 with 61 yards and the Hurricanes (0-1) kicked a field goal to score first at Camping World Stadium. Even in a 24-20 loss to the No. 8 Florida Gators, Enos provided the first bit of proof with Miami he is the quarterback whisperer he was touted as when he arrived in South Florida
The reason: He made everything simple for the redshirt freshman playing for the first time against a non-FCS opponent.
Williams’ first completion was beautiful in its simplicity — a simple swing pass to tight end Brevin Jordan on the left side of the formation. The ball was out of Williams’ hands in nearly an instant and Jordan charged forward for a 17-yard gain. An inexperienced — and maybe inadequate — offensive line wasn’t an issue.
It was the same for most of Williams’ five throws on the drive to give the Hurricanes an immediate 3-0 lead. He threw another short pass to wide receiver K.J. Osborn for another 18-yard gain, and picked up 15 and 10 on two more quick throws to Jordan. Miami moved all the way to the Gators’ 14-yard line, but a sack by Florida (1-0) forced the Hurricanes to settle for three points.
“I thought Dan did a good job of putting him in position, especially early in the game, with some quick throws,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said. “I think his first six throws were all — I think — behind the line of scrimmage, or I don’t even know if they were like 1 or 2 yards down the field. Just some quick throws, get him some rhythm, get him some confidence.”
It was the only time Miami moved the ball with anything resembling ease in the first game of the season. Otherwise, Enos’ moments of brilliance came in, well, moments.
The Hurricanes’ two biggest plays both came courtesy of running back DeeJay Dallas, both when Miami was floundering on offense and trailing its archrival.
Another sack had the Hurricanes pushed back into a second-and-19 situation at their own 45 with the clock winding down in the second quarter. Miami took a timeout with 1:14 left and Enos had the perfect call. The assistant coach dialed up a screen to Dallas, who made a one-handed grab and rumbled 40 yards to the 15. Two plays later, Williams hit Jordan for his first career touchdown pass.
In the fourth quarter, Enos dialed up another perfect call to his running back. This time, Tate Martell was the quarterback on the field, only he was lined up in the slot. Dallas took a direct snap, faked a handoff to the redshirt sophomore and darted to his left, through a hole in the defense and 50 yards to the end zone to give the Hurricanes a 20-17 lead.
“Coach Enos is an offensive wizard,” Dallas said. “I know he’s going to come back with a game plan for North Carolina and we’re going to be ready.”