Miami football kick-started its 2016 campaign exactly the way it needed to with a 67-point blowout victory over FAMU. The numbers were certainly impressive, but there was much more to take away from this game than just the final score. Here are three things we learned from the Canes’ opening win:
1.) The enthusiasm is back.
From the coaches to the players to the fans, people are excited about Miami football again. The players were energized and played up-tempo in front of one of the bigger home-opener crowds that the Canes have had in a few years. The talent has always been there, but it seems that the intangibles are back this year as well.“Just driving in and seeing the traffic – that was great,” Head Coach Mark Richt said after the game. “There were a lot of people tailgating throughout the entire parking lot, more than I can ever remember as a player really. Seeing all the students up in the stands early was great as well.”
2.) The Canes have plenty of weapons on offense.
Miami’s talent among the skill positions is unmistakable. Quarterback Brad Kaaya played well, as expected, throwing for four touchdowns in the season opener, but it was the running backs who stole the show. Mark Walton, Joe Yearby and Gus Edwards all rushed for more than 100 yards and each had at least one touchdown. There was also a lot of depth at the wide receiver position. While no one wideout had a great game, nine different players caught passes, indicating that Kaaya will have multiple options every time he drops back to pass this season. “That was pretty impressive,” Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown said about the performance of the team’s running backs. “But it was a total team effort, starting up front with the o-line, the quarterbacks getting us into the right checks, the tight ends being involved and really the receivers, downfield blocking-wise, being able to give us some one-on-one opportunities and make some touchdown-making blocks for us.”
3.) Miami still needs to improve on defense.
While they put on an impressive performance by only allowing three points, multiple big plays were given up to a far inferior opponent. As the season moves on, those big plays will concede touchdowns against better competition. However, this should be a relatively easy fix after the defense studies film from this first matchup.“I feel like we can get better,” redshirt senior defensive back Adrian Colbert said in regards to the team’s pass defense. “There is always room for improvement and that’s what we are striving for every day.”
The Canes will take the field again on Saturday against Florida Atlantic University. While it certainly isn’t a marquee matchup, it will be a small step up in competition for this team. All things considered, this was a successful first week for Miami and a strong start to the Mark Richt era.