Sports

Jarren Williams might have lost some body parts, but proved he has the goods to thrive

UM quarterback Jarren Williams feels good about the team

UM quarterback Jarren Williams feels good about the team after loss to the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, August 24, 2019.
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UM quarterback Jarren Williams feels good about the team after loss to the Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, August 24, 2019.

Provided that Jarren Williams found all his body parts scattered across Camping World Stadium, the University of Miami quarterback proved Saturday in his debut against a formidable Florida Gators opponent, that he has the goods to deliver what the Hurricanes need to get rolling again.

Fortunately for Williams and company after the 24-20 loss, the Hurricanes (0-1) do not play this weekend and will have until 8 p.m. Sept. 7 to prepare for a road game at North Carolina, the Canes’ first Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

Despite getting hammered by 10 sacks and hit or sent running for his life several other times, the redshirt freshman quarterback completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown — without throwing a single interception. That’s a 65.5-percent accuracy rate, a number topped only twice last season by N’Kosi Perry and Malik Rosier in wins against FIU and North Carolina.

UM’s young offensive line struggled miserably, particularly at tackle, where a true freshman and redshirt freshman started.

“Yeah. I mean, you probably can’t put a guy in a more adverse situation than in this stadium,’’ UM coach Manny Diaz said. “The amazing atmosphere from both sets of fans, their defensive front, which we knew was really good — Jarren never really blinked. A lot of times he didn’t have a lot of time and he just played with a little bit of courage, made some plays with his feet, scrambled the throw to keep things alive.

“You can see why we picked him to be our guy.”

Hurricanes offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos undoubtedly is devising ways to speed up Wlliams’ learning curve and teach him how to keep his appendages intact — like getting rid of the ball faster or adding extra protection from his offense.

“Those 10 sacks, a lot of them weren’t on my O-line,’’ Williams said. “A lot of them were on me. I felt like a couple times I got pressured and I became a runner instead of remaining a passer [and] keeping my eyes down the field. So, that’s definitely something I’m going to learn from.

“When the rush is coming at you and you’re live, it’s a little different, but it’s a great learning experience and I feel like we’re only going to get better.”

Williams was asked what UM’s final drive, that began with 4:20 left, was like.

After an interception by Romeo Finley, the Canes got the ball at the UF 40-yard line instead of the UF 25 because of an unsportsmanlike penalty by cornerback Al Blades. Then, on the first play of Miami’s drive, center Corey Gaynor was penalized for an illegal block, which put the Canes back to their own 45.

UM could only get as far as the UF 24-yard line before Williams was sacked again, fumbled, and guard DJ Scaife recovered at the 26. On third-and-12 from the 26, Williams threw a pass to Jordan in the end zone with less than a minute left, but Gators linebacker Ventrell Miller and defensive back Jeawon Taylor broke up the play. A flag was initially thrown on the coverage, but officials announced there was no penalty.

On fourth-and-12, Williams bobbled the snap, had Gator Jeremiah Moon in his face, and threw a desperation toss in running back DJ Dallas’ direction.

“I’m just putting it all out there, you know?’’ said Williams, who despite the barrage, was 12 of 14 for 158 yards and a touchdown in the first half. “I want to win and I know all eyes are on us to get that job done, so I felt like me and the team, we gave it everything we got. We put it all out there — blood, sweat and tears — but unfortunately we came up short.”

“Honestly. Florida, they’re a talented team. Defensively, they threw a lot at us.’’

Williams, like the Hurricanes, should improve greatly between the first and second game, when coaches usually see the most improvement. And with the extra week to prepare for UNC in another game away from Hard Rock Stadium, the progress should be even more evident.

“It was my first start,’’ Williams said. “I kind of didn’t know what to expect, but I got a feel for it, for the speed of the game, and I’ve got a good understanding now, so the only thing I can do is move forward and learn from mistakes.

“...I feel really good about our team.”

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.
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