Tyrone Moss had a career-high 148-yard rushing performance with two touchdowns and special teams came up with big plays as No. 4 Miami (3-0) blew out Houston 38-13 at Reliant Stadium.
Tavares Gooden recovered Anthony Reddick’s blocked punt in the end zone for the Hurricanes’ first score, and Baraka Atkins scored on a 58-yard fumble return to help the ‘Canes cruise to the easy victory.
The defense had a strong game but allowed its first touchdown of the season when Houston (1-3) quarterback Kevin Kolb scrambled for a six-yard score late in the first half. Kolb went 11-for-28 for 153 yards and was able to cause problems for the vaunted Hurricane defense.
The Cougars were led by tailback Ryan Gilbert, who gained 88 yards on 26 carries.
A continuing problem for the Hurricanes has been the passing game, as quarterback Brock Berlin struggled mightily, going 13-for-23 for 99 yards with five sacks.
Head Coach Larry Coker openly criticized Berlin for the first time this season.
“We have to pass better,” Coker told The Miami Herald. “Under 100 yards passing and five sacks are not going to get it done, so we need to improve there.”
After Reddick blocked the aforementioned punt to stake Miami to a 7-0 lead, Berlin had an opportunity to connect with a wide-open Sinorice Moss, but the ball was severely overthrown. Coker was outspoken about this missed opportunity.
“You have to make that play,” Coker told The Herald. “Again, the first play was a good call and it was well executed. There was just no pass and catch and that’s the fundamental part of it. It’s a junior high play. If we make that play we’re in good position to go and score a touchdown early. We just didn’t do it.”
After Gooden’s touchdown, Frank Gore scored on a four-yard run to give the ‘Canes a 14-0 lead. Moss added a one-yard run in the beginning of the second quarter to make it a 21-point game.
The two teams traded field goals and Kolb scored his touchdown at the end of the half to make the score 24-10 as both teams headed to their locker rooms.
Kolb’s touchdown was set up by a Berlin fumble, which left Coker visibly frustrated.
“A fifth-year senior quarterback cannot give the opponent a touchdown before the half,” Coker told The Herald. “You never like to go into halftime on the negative end of momentum. That’s totally a foolish play we can’t have.'”
Atkins basically put the game out of reach with his fumble return, making the score 31-10 with 9:03 left in the third. Houston would add another field goal and Moss would score a five-yard touchdown to finish the scoring.
While the outcome was never in doubt, the game left fans wondering if the Hurricanes can truly win their sixth national championship with the lack of offensive production shown in the first three games. Coker told The Herald that he thinks a full week of practice will help his team get into a rhythm before it travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech next Saturday.
“I’m glad we didn’t pass for 100 yards,” Coker joked. “It gives us something to do this week.”
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.