State Colleges

Miami Hurricanes’ offense clicking while defense needs tinkering

The Miami Hurricanes revealed some truths Saturday at their spring game that fans already knew:

Quarterback Stephen Morris wings the ball.

Tailback Duke Johnson makes people miss.

Rashawn Scott and Herb Waters are big-play receivers.

The defense, though playing mostly vanilla schemes, still needs work.

Morris, a rising senior who represented the orange team, threw touchdown passes on his first four series at Sun Life Stadium, making the secondary seem helpless at times. By the end of the first half he had completed 10 of 16 passes for 217 yards and the scoring strikes. He finished 13 of 23 for 256 yards.

The final score: orange team 35, white team 20 — including scripted, ceremonial touchdowns for each team.

Wide receiver Malcolm Lewis, a rising sophomore, entered the game in the orange team’s second series, getting his first real action since badly dislocating and breaking his left ankle Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech. Morris delivered the ball, and Lewis ran down the left sideline for a 75-yard scripted touchdown — the defense jogging lightly behind him and the benches clearing to celebrate in the end zone.

About 8,000 fans rose from their seats to give Lewis a standing ovation.

“It felt real good,” Lewis said. “I was just sitting there and [Coach Al Golden] said, ‘Get in!’ It was a touching moment to see how much my team really cares for me.”

Said Golden: “He deserves it. A horrific injury. … The fortitude, the perseverance, the work ethic to come back from that and the courage to go out there. Now we don’t have to worry about when he’s ready for [the] FAU [opener]. He has already caught that ball and done it here. He’ll be full speed by June.”

An even more unconventional moment came when former center Brett Romberg — inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday — ran onto the field and snapped the ball to 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta, who threw a touchdown pass to former Canes great Andre Johnson. Again, the benches cleared to celebrate in the end zone.

Golden seemed pleased with the day in general, though he wouldn’t commit to a backup quarterback, saying neither Ryan Williams nor Gray Crow went with the first-team offensive line.

Williams completed 10 of 25 passes for 123 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to walk-on Garrett Kid. But he threw two interceptions, both nabbed by linebacker Denzel Perryman.

Crow was 2 of 8 for 50 yards.

The starter, however, looked dominant. Morris began the scrimmage by leading his orange team down the field in a smooth, efficient series, hitting Waters for two passes — a 29-yarder and 13-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone.

After Morris’ touchdown to Lewis, tailback Johnson (10 rushes for 120 yards and a fumble) escaped a pile of defenders, suddenly emerging for one of his trademark 20-yard gains. Morris soon threw a 15-yard touchdown to Scott (five catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns) to make it 21-7, orange.

Morris was at it again with a 14-yard touchdown to Scott, who beat cornerback Nate Dortch early in the second quarter to make it 28-7.

“We’re pretty dominant,” Scott said of the offense. “Everyone is communicating and … no one is frustrated. If we mess up, we all talk instead of yelling at each other.”

Waters had three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown before he injured his right shoulder, though Golden said it wasn’t serious. Jontavious Carter added five catches for 113 yards.

Defensively, Perryman had the two picks and tackle Luther Robinson had two sacks, with end Anthony Chickillo adding another. Corey King forced a fumble, which Tyriq McCord recovered.

Cornerbacks Ladarius Gunter and Tracy Howard led the team with five tackles apiece.

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