Believe it: Miami (Fla.) beat a top-15 team with its defense.
The Hurricanes were epically bad on defense last season, allowing both the most rushing yards (2,615) and passing yards (3,222) in school history. Saturday, an aggressive Hurricanes' defense led by junior linebacker Denzel Perryman did a lot of bending but didn't break and also forced five turnovers as UM upset Florida, 21-16.
Miami's touted offense basically was shut down, gaining only 61 yards after the first quarter and finishing with 204 yards. But Perryman (6-feet, 242 pounds) and his defensive mates came up with three fumble recoveries and two picks -- with two of the fumble recoveries and both picks coming in the red zone -- in helping the Hurricanes to their first win over a top-12 team in eight seasons.
Miami had some breakdowns in the secondary and allowed 22 first downs and 413 yards, the second-most by Florida in 11 games. But the Hurricanes held up much better than expected against Florida's ground game. The Gators had some success running wide and with the read-option, but the Gators' offense is predicated on finding success between the tackles and they didn't find it. While the Gators threw for 291 yards -- their highest total since beating Furman late in 2011 with John Brantley at quarterback -- they managed only 122 on the ground.
Morris can excel in NFL
Further analysis of Miami QB Stephen Morris' game tape revealed a potential franchise passer primed for a long and productive NFL career, Bucky Brooks says. More ...
Miami senior quarterback Stephen Morris started off hot -- completing two TD passes in the first quarter -- but he didn't do much at all after that and finished 12-of-25 for 163 yards and the two TDs. Sophomore tailback Duke Johnson did score a fourth-quarter touchdown, but he rushed for only 57 yards on 21 carries (2.7-yard average). And Miami finished with only 10 first downs and was 1-of-11 on third down.
But Miami's defense made that hold up. Perryman, who is undersized but can lay the lumber, has moved from middle linebacker to a more natural spot on the outside, and he was the defensive star. He had nine solo stops, forced a fumble by Florida tailback Matt Jones on the Gators' first drive of the game -- UM turned it into a touchdown -- and also had a quarterback hurry.
UM's defensive tackles did a solid job, too. The four-man rotation was a question going into the season, but the quartet of Curtis Porter, Luther Robinson, Olsen Pierre and Justin Renfrow answered it in the affirmative Saturday. Pierre, especially, had a big game against the Gators, finishing with seven stops.