Postscripts, notes and thoughts from UM’s 77-0 annihilation of Savannah State on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium, a game in which the Hurricanes set a record for largest margin of victory:
▪ For those looking for any insight into how UM’s backup quarterbacks stack up against Malik Rosier, Saturday provided a window of insight.
And this was much clear: Against an undermanned opponent, N’Kosi Perry had some very good moments, including three touchdown passes, and gave ample evidence that he’s ready to play if Mark Richt needs him.
But Perry – unlike Rosier – threw an interception, though Richt didn’t blame him for it afterward. Otherwise, their nights were comparable and Perry displayed why he was such a terrific prospect coming out of Ocala Vanguard in 2017.
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He also gave strong reason to believe he is best equipped to be Rosier’s primary backup.
The question emerging from this predictably lopsided win was whether Perry displayed enough to convince Richt that he’s worthy of inserting against a quality opponent if Rosier is struggling badly in a future game.
The feeling here: He is, if Rosier is in the midst of a putrid game. The quality of the opponent was so deplorable Saturday that it’s difficult to make any fully conclusive judgments.
Keep in mind that Savannah State is dropping from FCS (previously 1-AA) to Division II next year.
UM scored touchdowns on three of the five possessions engineered by Rosier and three of the six orchestrated by Perry.
UM scored two touchdowns on Cade Weldon’s two series, but he completed only one of two passes and the one incomplete pass was a dropped potential interception. Weldon, who threw five interceptions in UM’s final preseason scrimmage, also had a 16-yard TD run on Saturday.
The Canes scored a touchdown on two of Jarren Williams’ three series, though Williams threw only three passes and completed one.
Rosier finished 8 for 12 for 131 yards - with two touchdown passes and no interceptions - but only one of those completions traveled more than eight yards in the air – a beautiful 67-yard strike to Jeff Thomas that was ruled a touchdown on replay.
Rosier was booed vociferously when he threw behind Darrell Langham on third down, forcing UM to punt on its second series. Rosier said afterward that he laughed about being booed.
But Rosier then completed seven passes in a row, most on screens or short patterns, as the Canes scored touchdowns on their next three possessions, which culminated in the Rosier 2-yard pass to freshman tight end Will Mallory, a Rosier 1-yard TD run and the Rosier bomb to Thomas.
How did Rosier play? “Not bad,” Richt said.
Perry made his Hurricanes debut on a short field, after a Trajan Bandy takeaway, but his first pass to Darrell Langham was off the mark and his second pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. A screen to Brevin Jordan picked up nine and soon after, Perry unleashed an an 8-yard dart to Lawrence Cager for a touchdown, making it 28-0.
Perry’s next two drives were forgettable. The first of those drives was a three-and-out, including a poorly thrown pass to Dee Wiggins on third down. The other drive was torpedoed by a sack of Perry.
But Perry was splendid on the first drive of the second half, completing three passes – a nifty 38-yarder to Darrell Langham, a 14-yarder to Cager and a three-yard TD pass to a wide open Jordan.
Perry followed that excellence with a bad mistake on an interception on UM’s first play after a Sheldrick Redwine interception.
Richt said he blamed himself for that Perry interception. “I set him up for failure,” Richt said. “It was a route that didn’t have a good chance against this team.”
Then we saw good N’Kosi on the next series, which ended with a seven-yard TD pass to Jordan.
Perry’s final numbers: 9 for 14 for 93 yards, the three touchdown throws and the one interception.
Weldon’s first two drives produced touchdowns, with his only completion (in two attempts) a short throw to Brian Polendey for a 14-yard catch-and-run.
Freshman Jarren Williams completed his first pass as a Cane, which was the first catch of Marquez Ezzard’s Canes career, for 17 yards.
But the drive stalled and Williams threw incomplete to Evidence Njoku on a well-defended play in the end zone on fourth down.
Williams closed 1 for 3, with that one completion to Ezzard. He also had a 1-yard TD run.
▪ Five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard made his Canes offensive debut in the fourth quarter, running with force on his first carry for seven yards and then showing good burst on a 7-yard touchdown run.
Then Lingard exploded for a 64-yard TD run late, accelerating past helpless Savannah State defenders.
He closed with four carries for 82 yards. Fellow freshman running back Cam Davis had one carries for three yards.
▪ We saw glimpses of how good Jordan can be. He caught the first seven passes thrown to him for 52 yards, including the two touchdowns.
▪ UM’s most explosive player? Clearly Thomas. He already has nine plays of 20 or more yards in two games after producing 22 such plays last year.
Besides the 67-yard TD reception Saturday, he also had electrifying 48- and 42-yard punt returns.
▪ UM had three new starters from the LSU game: Mallory (replacing Jordan at tight end), Langham (replacing injured Ahmmon Richards at receiver) and Zach McCloud (Romeo Finley started the opener).
▪ UM’s first-team offensive line was substandard in run blocking in the first half, much better in the second. Travis Homer managed just 27 yards on eight carries but ran for 43 yards on five carries in the second half. DeeJay Dallas closed with five carries for 48 yards.
▪ One good sign: UM got Trayone Gray involved and he converted a third and 1 with a powerful short gain up the middle and also took a screen pass for nine yards. But he lost a yard on a goal-line play from the Savannah State one.
▪ The Tigers lost a combined 13 yards on their first five series and Miami’s front seven was thoroughly dominant. Jon Garvin had four tackles for loss in the first half alone and Shaq Quarterman had a sack.
▪ Even with UM up 28-0, Zach Feagles was booed after shanking a punt that traveled 35 yards after rolling the last several. Jack Spicer got the next punt and it traveled 34 yards after it was done rolling.
▪ Freshmen Gregory Rousseau and defensive tackle Nesta Silvera got their first defensive snaps of the season on Savannah State’s fourth drive.
Silvera had a tackle on the opposing quarterback to end that series and blocked a punt in the fourth quarter that Scott Patchan recovered and ran in for a touchdown, making the score 63-0.
▪ Jhavonte Dean, beaten for four completions and 93 yards in the LSU game, had an interception and remained UM’s third cornerback.
Sheldrick Redwine, who had a terrific offseason and a solid first game, also picked off a pass. And Trajan Bandy had UM’s first takeaway of the season on a fumble recovery. Waymon Steed recovered a fumble as well.
The turnover chain was delivered all four times by former UM cornerback Malek Young, who sustained a career-ending neck injury in the Orange Bowl.
▪ UM opponents had converted an absurd 57 consecutive kicks in a row against the Hurricanes before the Canes’ Jaquan Johnson blocked a field goal in the third quarter.
▪ This tweet from ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell: “Miami gets credit tonight for covering a 64-point spread against Savannah State by winning 77-0. That’s the highest point spread covered in college football history. The next highest? 60. When Miami beat, uh, Savannah State 77-7 in 2013.”
▪ Seven Hurricanes scored their first college touchdowns.