The Miami Hurricanes made a statement in the season opener on Saturday. Beyond scoring 70 points, 42 in the third quarter, they produced three running backs who each rushed for more than 100 yards.
That hasn’t happened since the days of The U, in 1987. Melvin Bratton rushed for 100 yards along with teammates Leonard Conley and Warren Williams.
This past Saturday, Mark Walton led the Canes with a career-best 117 yards. He scored a touchdown on 15 carries. While Walton had more than twice the carries as the other two backs combined, it didn’t stop the remainder of the three-headed monster from getting its yards.
Redshirt junior Gus “Bus” Edwards needed just seven carries to roll up 108 yards and an electrifying touchdown, a 74-yard scoring jaunt. Injured all of last season, Edwards is noted for his ability to bowl people over, but the 6-1, 230-pounder showed that he can rip off the big gain as well.
“I was really excited the whole time, just patiently waiting for the opportunity,” Edwards said.
The big back is savvy enough to know that he can’t do it all alone. He had great blocking that set up the longest run of his career and help the Canes on their way to a big victory.
“It was really about just trusting that everybody was going to do their job,” Edwards said. Before the ball was snapped, I trusted everything and just hit it full speed. It pretty much worked out.”
Not to be outdone, Joe Yearby also rushed seven times. He collected 105 yards and two touchdowns.
It really didn’t matter who carried the ball, the holes were there to run through behind an experienced offensive line that pushed Florida A&M all over the field.
“Those guys all deserve it,” said Mark Richt after his first game as the Canes’ head coach. “They’re all very quality backs. The blocking was good.”
That’s not to say the three talented backs didn’t make people miss, but for the most part, they had convoys to run behind all over the field.
“There was some good blocking up front, there was some good blocking on the perimeter, there was some good downfield blocking,” Richt said. “Which turns a six-yard gain into a 60-yard gain sometimes. In the end, guys have to make people miss to get long runs like that, and they were able to do that.”
The trio definitely give Florida Atlantic something to game plan against. That’s Miami’s next opponent. The two teams get together on Saturday in Hard Rock Stadium for a 6 p.m. Eastern time kickoff.
Three running backs going over 100 yards isn’t something that can be expected each and every week, but a solid running game is critical for a successful season, even with standout junior quarterback Brad Kaaya under center. It’s essential to take pressure off Kaaya and make it clear that he doesn’t have to do it all on offense. The Canes proved in Week 1 that they have formidable weapons beyond the standout signal-caller.
“I think we’ve just got to keep working hard in practice,” Edwards said. “Practice pays off in the game and (running backs) coach Thomas Brown has been doing a good job of making us work hard every day, telling us after that, that it will translate into the game and it kind of did (on Saturday).”