Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricanes plan to keep it simple in opener

Miami running back Duke Johnson, who broke his right ankle in November, returns tonight against Louisville.

Getty Images (2013)

Miami running back Duke Johnson, who broke his right ankle in November, returns tonight against Louisville.

CORAL GABLES — Miami understands there are story lines aplenty linked to tonight's season opener.

It faces a Louisville team that dominated it 36-9 in December's Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. Freshman Brad Kaaya starts at quarterback. Star running back Duke Johnson plays his first game since breaking his right ankle.

On the other sideline, it's Louis­ville's first ACC game and coach Bobby Petrino's return to the school 7½ years after he left it for the NFL.

But Miami coach Al Golden wants to keep it simple.

"We have to take care of ourselves," he said. "Opening games are difficult. It's really important for us to execute, for us to eliminate the things that cause you to lose.

"The good news is … we have a lot of veterans coming back, and we need to use that poise and leadership in this game."

Golden's message seemingly got through. Players remained even keeled last week. But that doesn't mean they have forgotten what happened in December.

They remember how former Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns and ran for one. The Miami native and one-time Miami commit also flashed the school's "U" with his hands and made a throat-slash gesture at the Hurricanes bench. He later apologized, but it was all part of an experience that stayed with Miami players, especially those who didn't play.

"I just remember them trying to run the score up; really just disrespecting us," said cornerback Corn Elder, who sat with a knee injury. "I just feel like they were out there talking a lot of trash. They have a lot of players from (Miami), so it was a confidence thing; people you grew up with and played against."

Johnson, who broke the ankle Nov. 2 against Florida State, could do little more than watch as the Hurricanes struggled. Tonight is an opportunity to prove he's the same hard-charging, speedy back he always has been. Johnson gained 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason but has shown speed and cutting ability during fall camp.

"I feel great. I'm 100 percent," he said. "We've tackled, and it felt fine getting up; taking shots. I'm not really thinking about (the ankle) much."

Joining him in the backfield is Kaaya, the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Miami since Jacory Harris against Charleston Southern on Aug. 28, 2008. Kaaya, whom the team won't make available for comment until after the game, beat out Kansas transfer Jake Heaps after Ryan Williams, the presumed starter, tore his ACL during spring practice.

Most of the story lines, Golden wants his players to remember, are variables Miami can control.

Said Johnson: "We've just got to go out there and play football."


Miami at Louisville, 8, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, ESPN, 1040-AM

Saturday's state games

USF: vs. Maryland, 3:30, CBS Sports Network

Florida: vs. Eastern Michigan, 4, SEC Network

Miami: vs. Florida A&M, 7

FSU: vs. Citadel, 7:30, Sun Sports

Hurricanes plan to keep it simple in opener 08/31/14 [Last modified: Sunday, August 31, 2014 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Baddest of them all? Steelers LB James Harrison, hands down


    "No badass list is complete - or should begin anywhere else other than with - James Harrison," says Eric Edholm, an NFL writer who has worked at Yahoo Sports. (Associated Press)
  2. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  3. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  4. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  5. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)