Miami quarterback Kyle Wright had the best game of his young career, and the defense forced two Joel Klatt interceptions to lead the Hurricanes to a 23-3 victory over Colorado in their home opener at the Orange Bowl on Saturday.
Wright finished with 264 yards and a touchdown on 20-for-39 passing. Most importantly for the Hurricanes, Wright did not hit the ground once after being sacked 14 times in Miami’s first two games.
Colorado tried to pressure Wright, but the offensive line held its ground, allowing the red-shirt sophomore enough time to complete passes to seven receivers.
“We went out there and stuck together,” said left tackle Eric Winston. “They threw some tough stuff at us early in the game but we came over to the sideline and made the corrections that we needed.”
Sinorice Moss led Miami’s receiving corps with five catches for 111 yards. His 53-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter helped the Hurricanes break the game open.
“[The touchdown] was a pump comeback,” Moss said. “The [Colorado cornerback] bit on the route and I pumped him a little bit and Kyle placed the ball right there and I caught it and raced for the touchdown.”
The Buffaloes had the first opportunity to score on their opening possession, but Mason Crosby pushed a 28-yard field goal wide right. Miami got on the board six minutes later when Jon Peattie, who hit three out of five field goals in the win, nailed a 34-yarder to finish a 12 play, 64-yard scoring drive.
The Hurricanes struck again in the second quarter when Marcus Maxey stepped in front of Klatt’s pass and returned the interception 32 yards to Colorado’s 27-yard line. Eight plays later, Peattie kicked a 20-yard field goal to put UM on top 6-0.
Miami finally reached the end zone with eight minutes left in the first half. Wright saw Moss fly past single coverage and fired a 53-yard touchdown pass to the senior wide out to give the Hurricanes a 13-0 lead.
UM’s defense continued to wreak havoc in the third quarter. On the first play of Colorado’s second drive of the half, Brandon Meriweather intercepted Klatt’s pass to set up another Peattie field goal.
The Buffaloes finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Crosby nailed a 58-yard field goal, the second longest of his career, making the score 16-3. Miami responded by going on a nine play, 80-yard drive culminating in a two-yard Wright bootleg for the game’s final touchdown.
Despite the lopsided victory, Wright said the team is concerned about its lack of production in the red zone, where the Hurricanes only managed one touchdown on Saturday.
“We put some good drives together but we didn’t finish them off the way we wanted to,” Wright said. “I don’t think that score was really indicative of what it could have been. So that’s also something we have to work on-that red zone offense.”
The win comes a few days after the University extended its contract with Head Coach Larry Coker through the 2009 season.
“I am very appreciative of the contract…I want to coach here for a long time,” Coker said. “I don’t want to retire here. The University of Miami does not need a retirement guy. They need a guy that’s going to go recruit and work and do the best he possibly can for this University.”
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.