Gus Edwards

Miami RB Gus Edwards lost for all of 2015 with foot injury

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Miami already knew it was going to be have to replace its all-time leading rusher in Duke Johnson.  Now, the ‘Canes will be forced to deal with replacing one of his prime replacements.

An injury originally described as minor turned out to be much more severe, with the football program confirming Sunday night that Gus Edwards will miss the entire 2015 season because of a foot issue.  The school declined to reveal the specific nature of the injury.

“Gus worked extremely hard for the last nine months to prepare for this moment,” head coach Al Golden said in a statement. “He set a high standard and did a great job leading and being unselfish. We are tremendously disappointed for him, but we will be there with him on the road to recovery and anxiously await his return.”

Edwards was third on the team in rushing last season with 349 yards. His six rushing touchdowns were second to Johnson’s 10 in 2014. He was expected to start and shoulder a significant amount of the running game load.

The good news for the Hurricanes is last year’s second-leading rusher, Joseph Yearby (509 yards), returns. Also on scholarship are Trayone Gray (24 yards, one touchdown as a true freshman last season) and four-star 2015 signee Mark Walton.  Yearby and Walton are listed as the co-starters on the depth chart released the same time as the Edwards injury news.

South Carolina holds off Miami in Independence Bowl

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Outside of the second half of the second quarter, Miami played pretty good defense against South Carolina and its powerful offense in Saturday’s Duck Commander Independence Bowl. Problem is, it was that 6-minute, 11-second span that did them in.

Trailing 6-0 midway through the second quarter, Dylan Thompson hit Pharoh Cooper for a 78-yard catch-and-run score to put the Gamecocks on top. On the ensuing possession, South Carolina marched 53 yards in six plays, capped by a 15-yard Mike Davis touchdown pass, to push the lead to eight, and then Elliott Fry added a 32-yard field goal to give the Gamecocks a 17-6 halftime lead.

After a Gus Edwards three-yard scoring plunge pulled Miami to within 17-14 in the third quarter, the key sequence in the game came with five and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. On a second-and-8 at its own 29, Miami handed to Duke Johnson, who proceeded to hurt his ankle and fumble the ball in the process.

Johnson appeared okay, at least okay enough to walk around, but the Hurricanes never recovered. South Carolina moved 29 yards in three plays, punctuated by a two-yard Thompson run, to push the lead to 24-14.

Miami responded with a swift 72-yard touchdown drive in 1:57, capped by a Brad Kaaya pass to Phillip Dorsett, but the Hurricanes were not able to force South Carolina to relinquish the ball over the remaining 2:16.

Final score: South Carolina 24, Miami 21.

In likely his last game as a Hurricane, Miami’s all-time leading rusher Duke Johnson showed well, rushing 24 times for 132 yards while catching five passes for 51 yards. Kaaya completed 19-of-33 passes for 236 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Miami actually out-gained South Carolina (422-362) and held a 21-17 edge in first downs, but a 2-0 turnover deficit did them in.

For South Carolina, Thompson completed 22-of-34 passes for 284 yards with three total touchdowns, and Davis carried 13 times for 55 yards. Cooper led all receivers with nine grabs for 170 yards and a touchdown.

The win pushes South Carolina to 7-6, not quite the 11-2 finish the ‘Cocks enjoyed the past three seasons but still their seventh straight winning campaign.

Miami, meanwhile, closes the year at 6-7 and on a four-game losing streak. Overall, Miami is 8-11 since starting the 2013 season at 7-0.

Ground and pound: Hurricanes establish identity during 30-6 victory over Hokies

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The Miami Hurricanes made a statement Thursday against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

While the program may never return to the winning ways it once experienced while Al Golden is at the helm, the program finally gravitated toward an identity that’s long been forgotten. The vaunted Miami teams from the 1980’s and the early 2000’s used to physically dominate opponents. They did that Thursday night in Blacksburg.

Miami (5-2) captured a dominant 30-6 victory over Virginia Tech (4-4).

When Golden was the head coach of Temple from 2006-10, the Owls climbed their way out of football purgatory by running the football effectively week in and week out. The talent level at Miami supersedes anything Golden had at Temple, but the team’s approach against the Hokies was reminiscent of those Owls.

There was nothing fancy about what Miami did to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes lined up and jammed the ball down the Hokies’ collective throat. Two running backs combined to run for an impressive 364 yards.

Junior running back Duke Johnson ran like a man possessed. Johnson set a career high with 249 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Sophomore Gus Edwards took over in the second half and managed 115 yards.

The Hurricanes were so dominant in the trenches, freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya was only asked to throw the ball 16 teams. He completed seven of those passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Plus, Miami played well on the defensive side of the football.

The Hurricanes shut out the Hokies through the first half of play, before Virginia Tech decided to ride freshman running back Marshawn Williams. Willams carried the ball 21 times for 100 yards. The young back also fumbled twice.

With the ACC Coastal division being wide open, the Hurricanes may have found its identity at the right time. At 2-2 in the division, Miami is now a half game behind the Duke Blue Devils going into this weekend’s games. But Miami holds the head-to-head edge.

If Miami plans to make a run in their division, its ball-control offense will be needed over the next two weeks against the North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.