By Ethan Burke
After a lot of offseason criticism, head coach Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes took care of business last night as they opened up ACC play with a victory over the Louisville Cardinals to start the season 2-0.
Louisville got off to a quick 3-0 start in the first quarter after a 40-yard field goal made by James Turner, but after that the Canes seemed to have the first half under control. Miami responded right away with a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback D’eriq King to tight end Will Mallory. That touchdown started to give King and the Hurricane ground attack some confidence, as Miami scored again off a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Jaylen Knighton to take a commanding 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was all about defense, with both teams trading field goals and then undertaking a defensive battle. Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham could not get things going in the first half, as there was a lot of miscommunication, dropped passes and eventually turnovers. The last three Cardinal possessions in the first half resulted in turnovers forced by an improved Canes defense, and Miami led 20-6 at halftime.
Unlike the second quarter, the third quarter was more about offense. Louisville scored two touchdowns in the but, unfortunately for them, the Canes answered both touchdowns on the very first snap to keep the score at a two-possession game. One of those touchdowns was an unbalanced look against an out-of-place defense that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown for Knighton to create a 34-20 lead.
No matter what the score was, Louisville didn’t back down, as Cunningham completed a touchdown pass to Mashon ford to cut the lead to 40-27 with seven minutes remaining. However, unfortunately for the Cardinals, one of the main stories of the night was how their defense could not build off the momentum left by the offense, and the Hurricanes responded with a 47-yard touchdown pass from King to Brevin Jordan.
Near the end of the game though, there was some hope left for the Louisville Cardinals, as Tutu Atwell earned himself a 19-yard touchdown reception with two minutes to go to cut the Canes’ lead back to 13 points. On the following play, Louisville finally built off their momentum and recovered the onside kick before the possession ultimately resulted in a turnover, putting the icing on the cake for the Cardinals.
It was good news for Miami fans, as King definitely rose to the occasion tonight and went 18 for 30 with three touchdowns and no interceptions. King has also improved his connections with his top receivers such as Mark Pope and Brevin Jordan. And of course, let’s not forget the famous Hurricane running game that’s made its mark tonight, as they ended up with 160 rushing yards led by Kamron Harris who recorded 134. Miami’s defense also stepped up, considering they put up two fumbles and an interception. Hurricane fans definitely have something to look forward to and can expect their team to compete to make the ACC championship.
Louisville fans shouldn’t have anything to be ashamed of either. Before Scott Sattersfield arrived on campus, this program was a complete disaster. Two years ago the Cardinals finished 2-10 and lost many games by at least 50 points. Tonight, this team found themselves ranked and competing with another ranked Miami Hurricane team. They are led by a great quarterback in Cunningham, who finished 26 for 36 with three touchdowns, and has talented receivers and running backs who played well tonight in Tutu Atwell and Javian Hawkins. The defense definitely needs work however, as they allowed 47 points and 325 receiving yards. Although it’s Diaz’s second season as well, he didn’t take over a situation anywhere near as bad as Satterfield did. Tonight they learned that they are not quite at the level they should be, so now they need to make some adjustments.
Watch out for the Louisville Cardinals next week, as they look to get back on track and head to Pennsylvania to take on the 25th-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers. Meanwhile, the Miami Hurricanes will look to continue their winning streak as they face their in-state rival, the Florida State Seminoles, in another College Gameday showdown.
Edited by Emma Moloney