Versus North Carolina, James proved his exceptional game last week was no fluke.
With the University of Miami leading only 17-7 with 9:35 left in the third quarter, freshman running back James ripped off a 62-yard run, propelling the ‘Canes to a 24-7 lead and slamming the door shut on UNC.
James finished the game with 16 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown.
"The offensive line did a real good job," James said. They told me they were going to give me some runs and when I got that long run, the hole was so big that anybody could have run through it. I was worried about not getting caught from behind."
The defense had their strongest performance of the game, allowing just 58 yards total on the ground and sacking the quarterback three times and forcing two fumbles, recovering one, on the game.
"We forced some turnovers that sort of helped us and we did exactly what we needed to do to win," Coker said. "We are making progress but we have to be better. I am very excited about this team, the attitude has been terrific."
The focal point of the offense in the passing game was tight end Greg Olsen. He tied his career high with eight receptions in the game and finished the game with 95 yards.
"Everything we did today was pretty basic stuff, it was nothing special," Olsen said. "The success was just because of the execution of the offense. Everyone on the offense clicked this week."
Wright finished the game 13-for-21 for 143 yards. The quarterback also showed good mobility, scrambling five times for 24 yards.
Wright was knocked out of the game for four plays on UM's first possession of the game when linebacker Victor Worsley speared the quarterback well after he had released the ball.
Freeman entered the game and handed the ball off to James three straight plays and then scrambled on the fourth play for six yards; a play that was called back on a holding penalty.
Miami's first touchdown of the game came on a gadget play when Lovon Ponder hit Sam Shields for a 37-yard pass with 4:05 left in the game. The touchdown was Shields' first of his career.
The last time ponder had thrown a pass was when he was six years old. Ponder said the team had been working on the play since Monday and that he has one of the strongest throwing arms on the team. Ponder claims to have thrown the ball 70 yards in the past.
"Coach Olson said he had a play where he wanted to see of all the defensive backs who could throw the ball the best," Ponder said.
Miami went up 17-7 before the half following an interception by Jon Beason that gave UM the ball with 1:29 left in the half. The pick was Beason's first of his career. Wright hit Olsen for a gains of 26 and 14 yards on the drive and the ‘Canes eventually scored on a one yard run by Charlie Jones.
The brightest spot for the Hurricanes in the first half was the defensive line. Baraka Atkins, Teraz McCray, Kareem Brown, and Calais Campbell wreaked havoc on UNC quarterback Cam Sexton the entire half.
Campbell was particularly disruptive, forcing a fumble and continually stuffing the run whenever the ball carrier was anywhere in his vicinity.
The defense set the table offensively for the ‘Canes in the first half, giving the struggling unit an average starting point of the 50 yard line on UM's scoring drives.
"My goal today was to just play hard and finish, tackle and hit every chance I get to," Campbell. "If the opportunity comes, make the play and I feel like I made plays with the opportunities that I had today."
UNC was the fifth consecutive game UM has held an opponent under 100 yards rushing. The last time Miami held its first five opponents under 100 yards rushing was in 1990.
David Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Led by James and Olsen, UM wins 27-7
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