The Miami Hurricanes have long touted themselves as “Quarterback U,” but Jarren Williams now holds a distinction none of those great quarterbacks who preceded him can claim.
The redshirt freshman, who was benched just a few weeks ago, threw for six touchdown passes against the Louisville Cardinals to seize the Miami record for touchdown passes in a single game.
With 6:59 left in the third quarter of a 52-27 win against Louisville, Williams connected with wide receiver Mike Harley for a 28-yard touchdown pass for his sixth of the game. It broke a seven-way tie Williams was only briefly a part of.
With the throw, Williams moved past former quarterbacks Bernie Kosar, Steve Walsh, Kyle Wright, Stephen Morris, Ken Dorsey and Brock Berlin, all of whom had individual games with five touchdown passes.
Williams’ sixth touchdown gave the Hurricanes a 28-point lead in Miami Gardens. It also tied the Atlantic Coast Conference record for touchdown passes in a single game. His final line: 15 of 22 for 253 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran for 23 yards on seven carries.
His six touchdowns came to four different receivers: two to Harley and fellow wide receiver Dee Wiggins, and one each to running back DeeJay Dallas and tight end Will Mallory.
They came via all different sorts of throws, too. His first to Wiggins was a deep ball on a post route. His throw to Dallas was on a screen pass he had the patience to let develop even as pressure bore down. Williams hit Harley once on a perfectly executed run-pass option and then again when he floated a pass over the Cardinals defense to find Harley in the back of the end zone.
Just two weeks ago, Williams was stuck to the bench. He missed a practice in the week leading up to Miami’s win against the Pittsburgh Panthers, so Manny Diaz went with N’Kosi Perry as his quarterback.
The situation grew dire in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh, though, and Diaz had to make a change. The coach inserted Williams in the fourth quarter with the Hurricanes trailing by two. Miami had only scored 10 points all game and the redshirt freshman guided the Hurricanes into the end zone for a game-winning score. A week later, Diaz’s decision was easier — he stuck with Williams as his quarterback for the trip to Tallahassee and Williams gashed the Florida State Seminoles for a career-high 313 yards.
On Wednesday, Diaz didn’t even have to name a starter. This is Williams’ job again. After spinning for more than a month, Miami’s quarterback carousel stopped back where it began.
“It’s weird,” Diaz joked after practice Wednesday in Coral Gables. “I don’t have anything to announce.”
Williams’ performance last Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium was, statistically, the best of his career. His performance Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium was even better.
Williams got Miami (6-4, 4-3) moving on its first drive by doing what he does best. He hit Harley on a slant and let the speedy wide receiver do most of the work. The throw hit Harley perfectly in stride and the junior dashed 41 yards into the red zone. Dallas finished the seven-play, 92-yard touchdown drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
On the next drive, Williams needed only one play. Wiggins ran past his defender and Williams fired a 67-yard touchdown pass to the receiver in stride.
Entering last Saturday, Williams had been just 1 of 10 for 38 yards on passes which traveled at least 20 yards through the air. On Saturday alone, two of his touchdown passes went at least 20 yards through the air.
Williams didn’t throw his first incomplete pass until 9:19 remained in the second quarter. By then, he was 9 of 9 for 159 yards and three touchdowns, after Dallas scored on a screen and Williams found Wiggins again for a 10-yard touchdown in the middle of the end zone on a slant.
He threw one more touchdown with 3:27 left in the half when Mallory got wide open in the back corner of the end zone for an 11-yard score. Williams went into halftime 10 of 14 with 179 yards and four touchdowns — plus 23 yards on three carries — and Miami ahead 35-14.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Williams first tied the single-game touchdown records and then broke it. The tying throw was another to Harley on a run-pass option and Harley scooted 31 yards into the end zone after breaking a tackle.
To break the record, he made the sort of throw he faced questions about all season. Harley ran past the Cardinals defense and Williams had to make a throw over the defense. With perfect touch and plenty of arm strength, Williams found Harley in the back of the end zone for a sixth and final touchdown.