QB Jarren Williams, OC Dan Enos and play of the Miami defense are reasons for optimism for UM
A program with expectations as high as Miami’s doesn’t ever accept with a loss, no matter the circumstances.
“We did not come here to play with courage and effort,” said Miami head coach Manny Diaz in remarks after UM’s 24-20 loss to Florida on Saturday evening at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
“We came here to win the game and it’s not OK at the University of Miami ever to lose to the University of Florida. Everybody in that locker room feels the pain of that right now.”
Still, the Hurricanes can point to some positives after going toe-to-toe with the 8th-ranked team in the country.
“I think you look at what Manny’s doing. He’s got their program headed in the right direction,” said Florida head coach Dan Mullen after the game.
First and foremost, Miami redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams performed admirably, completing 19-of-29 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown.
He did not commit a turnover despite facing overwhelming pressure from UF’s defense, which sacked Williams 10 times in the game.
“Yeah, I thought he did a good job,” said Florida head coach Dan Mullen. “I thought (Miami offensive coordinator) Dan (Enos) did a good job of putting him in position, especially early in the game with some quick throws.
“I mean, you probably can’t put a guy in a more adverse situation than in this stadium,” Diaz said.
“The amazing atmosphere from both sets of fans, you know, their defensive front, which we knew was really good. Jarren never really blinked. A lot of time he didn’t have a lot of time and I thought he just played a little of courage, you know, made some plays with his feet, scrambled the throw to keep this some things alive. I think you can see why we picked him to be our guy.”
Credit is due to Dan Enos, Miami’s new offensive coordinator, who’s coming off stints at Arkansas and most recently Alabama in the OC spot, for infusing the Hurricane offense with some fresh ideas.
The Hurricanes utilized motion and pre-snap shifts that were much less prevalent during former head coach Mark Richt’s three-year tenure in Coral Gables.
Some of the ideas seemed to keep Florida’s talented defense off balance some, particularly on Miami’s initial drive of the game that resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Bubba Baxa.
They also did so later in the game after a Florida fumble when DeeJay Dallas took a screen pass for a big gain and two direct snaps for big gains, with one leading to a fourth-quarter touchdown.
In all, Miami had 308 total yards from scrimmage compared to Florida’s 306.
Diaz’s and new defensive coordinator Blake Baker’s defense lived up to the expectations, forcing three turnovers while generally containing the Florida run game.
“I think they played great on defense,” said Florida wide receiver Josh Hammond. “I think they executed really well and were able to stop us when they needed to. I don’t think that they played soft at all.
Diaz also pointed to the resilience of his squad, which battled back from behind to take the lead twice, including once in the fourth quarter, during the contest.
“Well, we talked about all offseason about developing a backbone, being able to withstand a punch, which happened to us in the first half with the long catch and run by (Florida wide receiver Kadarius) Toney,” Diaz said.
“And then that happened the second half when we fumbled the punt and they score on the short field and a couple times where it’s like, well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s not your night and you can kind of let go of the rope and I thought our guys looked those situations in the eye, fought through them, and ultimately gave ourselves a chance to win the game with 10 seconds left in the game throwing the ball in their end zone.
“Like I said, that’s what a big-time program should do. You don’t pat yourself on the back for not quitting but it is something. And that was a big point of our offseason.”
That resilience will be put to the test immediately, as following a bye week, Miami will go on the road to take on North Carolina in the Canes’ ACC opener on Sept. 7.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Space Coast Daily’s Zach Clark and Chris Bonanno break down Florida’s 24-20 victory over Miami on Saturday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.