Hurricanes come out flat against FIU and Butch Davis in return to where it all started.
The Miami Hurricanes squared off with FIU Saturday on Marlins Park, a bittersweet return to sacred ground.
Since playing their final game in the iconic Orange Bowl in 2007, the Hurricanes have struggled to return to glory.
They would again fall into old bad habits and start the game with much malaise.
Their return to the home of five National Championship teams started off with an early Jarren Williams interception, leading to an FIU field goal and an early 3-0 lead.
FIU’s defense was solid to start the contest and fed off an energetic crowd, Butch Davis had them ready.
Panthers quarterback James Morgan also came sharp with some RPO and behind an offensive line that held their ground.
Morgan got the ball out quickly and opened the game 7-of-9 passing, moving the FIU offense easily against man coverage.
The Hurricanes looked a step slow against the quick passing of FIU and the Panthers would capitalize again.
Morgan hit Shemar Thorton for a 29-yard touchdown and the “home” team jumped on top 10-0 with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.
Miami has come out flat in numerous games this season, particularly after a bye week.
Not sure what happens during bye weeks in Coral Gables, but if I’m Manny Diaz I’m playing 12 consecutive weeks in 2020
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) November 24, 2019
They were outscored 17-3 in the first quarter against North Carolina and 21-0 against Virginia Tech, both games were after an extra week off.
FIU was feeling it on defense and chirping, but started to get a little too confident.
The Panthers would pick up two personal fouls on defense which gave the Hurricanes offense some momentum.
Miami would lean on DeeJay Dallas during their third offensive possession which carried into the second quarter.
That drive showed promise but once again the FIU defense was up to the challenge, stopping Miami on fourth down.
Once again the Hurricanes were searching for answers in a game in which they were heavily favored.
The run defense was an early bright spot and FIU penalties on offense slowed them down.
The Miami Hurricanes just gave up a 24-yard run to FIU on third-and-19.
You can’t make this stuff up.
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) November 24, 2019
It was about as bad of a first half for the Hurricanes as it gets, the offense was sluggish and the defense was on their heels.
The Hurricanes ended the first half down 13-0 largely in part because FIU has a local legend at kicker.
Jose Borregales, who went to Booker T., a long walk away from Marlins Park, bangs a 50-yarder. His brother’s happy even though younger brother will kick at UM next year. #FIU
— David Neal (@DavidJNeal) November 24, 2019
FIU kicker Jose Borregales is a fan favorite and his younger brother Andres is a 2021 Hurricanes commit.
The Hurricanes could not convert on the money downs in the first half, going 0-for-5 on third and fourth downs.
Some FIU shenanigans on defense may have contributed slightly.
— Turnover Chain (@TurnoverChain) November 24, 2019
Things would get a whole lot worse for Miami before they would get any better as they lost Dallas to an arm injury early in the second half.
DeeJay Dallas is receiving attention from the athletic training staff on the field. They showed the replay on the jumbotron and it appeared that Dallas’ left elbow popped out of place. Gruesome, gruesome injury.
— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) November 24, 2019
Jarren Williams would throw his second interception of the game on that drive, FIU would convert into another field goal and a 16-0 lead.
Finally the Hurricanes offense would find some traction, the injury to Dallas led to Robert Burns getting some, well…burn.
He gashed FIU for 31 yards on just four carries and Miami would finally get on the board near the end of the third quarter with a 22-yard Camden Price field goal.
Camden Price is good from 22.
Miami 3 | FIU 16 | 1:52 3Q pic.twitter.com/bN9FAOaFze
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) November 24, 2019
Morgan would continue to outplay Williams for most of the game, FIU again moved the ball easily into Miami territory on their first fourth quarter drive.
Then FIU would capitalize on one of the most egregious coverage lapses you will see on any level. Morgan would hit Tony Gaiter for a 13-yard touchdown, without a Miami defender within the 305 area code.
The Hurricanes would finally punch back with a nine play, 69-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 14-yard score by Cam Harris to make it 23-10 halfway through the fourth quarter.
FIU was flopping on defense enough to make soccer players look credible, much to the disdain of Williams and his teammates.
A real story of the game was a lack of a pass rush from Miami, Morgan got rid of the ball in a hurry all night.
Morgan would finish going 16-for-30 for 160 yards and two touchdowns, an efficient and effective performance.
Meanwhile Williams stat line was…not so great.
William completed 19-of-36 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Those numbers were padded nicely in garbage time.
The Panthers’ offensive line is a team strength and neutralized Gregory Rousseau and the rest of the defensive line for the most part.
FIU started using the clock as the fourth quarter eroded and the outcome became inevitable.
Williams would manage to spark a late drive with some nice passes to Will Mallory and Jeff Thomas before hitting a wide open Mark Pope to make things interesting.
Pope caught a 35-yard dime from Williams and the score stood at 23-16 with 3:10 left to go.
Mallory doubled his season reception total with four catches for 71 yards, and along with Harris and Burns were among few bright spots on offense.
When Dan Enos is trending on Twitter it is usually a bad thing for the Hurricanes.
Those good feelings for the Hurricanes’ faithful lasted all of 53 seconds as FIU tailback Anthony Jones would get those points right back with a 37-yard dagger.
Hurricanes Head Coach Manny Diaz on the loss to FIU:
“Obviously a very, very dark night. One of the lowest moments in this proud program’s history.” pic.twitter.com/aBAbpGO0Il
— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) November 24, 2019
Being down and out seem to wake up Williams and the offense as they again marched down the field for another touchdown in less than two minutes.
It would not be enough as FIU would recover the onside kick to seal it, with Butch Davis receiving a well deserved Gatorade bath.
FIU played a sloppy game in terms of penalties with 14 for 144 yards. However they did not turn the ball over once.
Yet they played with heart and exceeded the energy on the opposing team for the majority of the game.
The Hurricanes once again thought they could just show up and win.
One team from the 305 did, just not the one most expected.
Photo courtesy of Tony Capobianco.