Ominous clouds and torrential rain could not derail Miami’s spring game, as the skies cleared for kickoff and the Canes showcased their months of progress.
The first team orange squad – led by senior quarterback Stephen Morris – emerged victorious on Saturday, 35-20, over the hard-nosed second team squad dressed in stark white jerseys.
The orange team was first on the scoreboard with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Morris to sophomore receiver Herb Waters, who earned the spring’s most improved on special teams award.
Just minutes later, the white squad answered in the end zone. Junior Ryan Williams, fighting to become Morris’ backup under center, connected with sophomore receiver Garrett Kidd for a 13-yard score.
The highlight of the half came on a 75-yard touchdown reception for Malcolm Lewis. It was the sophomore’s first appearance since his severe ankle injury last fall against Georgia Tech. Both the orange and white squads followed Lewis into the end zone after coaches staged a wide-open catch.
“It felt real good, I appreciated the moment that coach [Al] Golden gave me, I appreciate him for it. It just felt good to be on the field again,” Lewis said. “They told me to play and I just ran on the field, it happened just like that.”
His return to the field was a moment of physical and emotional redemption.
“It was a touching moment for me, shows how much my team really cares for me, and I really appreciate the guys for that and I love them,” Lewis said.
Spectators arrived hoping for a glimpse of what’s in store for this fall. What they didn’t expect was a blast from the past.
The white squad was graced by the appearance of UM’s Gino Torretta, the former Heisman Trophy winner. Torretta took a snap from ex-center Brett Romberg, and he connected with Houston Texans all-pro receiver Andre Johnson for a 45-yard touchdown.
The surprises just kept coming.
Dallas Crawford, a starter for the white team, recorded the last touchdown of the day with a 2-yard carry for the orange squad that extended the lead to 35-17. Crawford got traded at halftime.
The excitement and energy on the field was matched by the buzz of the fans, from pregame tailgates and ticket events to autograph signings.
First time season-ticket buyer David Trujillo of Pembroke Pines, Fla., decided 2013 was going to be his year, purchasing front-row seats in section 402.
“I’ve been watching the recruiting, been watching what coach Golden has been doing, and I think he’s leading the team in the right direction and so the season looks promising,” Trujillo said. “Maybe make it to a national championship – I think we have a chance of making it to a pretty good bowl.”
The spring game was a pulse point for the upcoming season.
“It’s a long way away,” Golden said. “I think we came out here healthy today, we’re fortunate and blessed that we did that. Now we’ve got to finish up school, get ourselves in good condition and back and ready to play.”
Golden is pleased with the Canes’ maturation and development.
“We’ll be as good as we want to be over the next four months,” he said. “We’re coming together as a team, starting to understand the little things and how they impact our team.”
For Morris, this year is the year, and the excitement is already building.
“I’m getting goose bumps right now talking about it,” the rising senior said. “Just having the end in mind, meaning we were so close to a championship last year, we gotta keep pushing forward. Whatever we did last year wasn’t good enough, so we gotta keep on going forward.”