AP NEWS

Brad Kaaya, Miami offense show potential of ‘coach Richt’s offense’

September 4, 2016 GMT

Brad Kaaya has had enough birthdays now, 21 to be exact, that material things are not important.

So when the face of the 2016 Miami Hurricanesawoke Saturday,the only birthday present the quarterback wanted was the one he receivedlater that night at Hard Rock Stadium.

“My phone is exploding now.”

Kind of like the Hurricanes offense did Saturday.

Sure, he missed a few throws — Kaaya floated a pass over tight end David Njoku’s head down the right side and on the next play he could have led receiver Stacy Coley a bit more in end zone — but he was everything Richt envisioned.

“Overall I thought he managed the game well,” said Richt, who is 35 years removed from played the same position as Kaaya at UM.

“I though he got us in the right running game just about every time he came to the line of scrimmage. I don’t think there were any balls that could have or should have gotten picked, which is big for me.”

That running game was the biggest reason for Kaaya’s modest numbers. Miami totaled 373 yards on the ground behind a trio of 100-plus yard rushers — Mark Walton (116), Gus Edwards (106), Joe Yearby (105).

“That’s coach Richt’s offense,” Kaaya said. “Big time football. Big time rushing attack.”

Early on, Miami’s offense was a victim of its defense and special teams’ success. Miami’s first drive covered just 28 yards following a Corn Elder interception. The Hurricanes needed to navigate just 20 yards on its second scoring drive after a blocked punt.

Miami had a two touchdown lead and Kaaya had thrown just three passes.

“Pretty much all night the defense took the pressure off us,” Kaaya said.

Still, Kaaya appreciated the work he got on a short field. Of the eight series in which Kaaya was in the game, five started in FAMU territory.

And of those, four ended with a touchdown. The other in a missed field goal.

“It was good practice for us because last year we struggled in the red zone whether it was penalties, whether it was missed throws, missed catches, missed assignments,” Kaaya said.

“That will be more crucial down the road in conference games.”

Kaaya’s final two touchdowns came on his final two throws. Wellington’s Ahmmon Richards turned a short pass into a 15-yard touchdown to give Miami a 42-3 lead early in the third quarter and after another FAMU turnover Kaaya hit Coley for a 4-yard score less than four minutes later.

But in the end, Kaaya’s performance against FAMU won’t be the one NFL scouts use to determine whether Kaaya or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is the first quarterback taken in next April’s draft.

And neither will Saturday’s against Florida Atlantic or the next week’s against Appalachian State.

Kaaya’s — and the Hurricanes’ — season essentially starts in about a month with a stretch that includes Georgia Tech, FSU, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Those are the games, and any others in November and possibly December in which he will be tested, that will play a much bigger role in Kaaya’s future

“Hopefully this carries on and continues,” Kaaya said.