Miami coach Al Golden didn’t mince words about his team’s loss to Florida State late Saturday night.
“We’re all crushed,” he said Sunday.
The Hurricanes’ perfect start was spoiled by their in-state rival on national television — a 41-14 defeat that knocked them far out of the Associated Press top 10, but that was hardly the worst of it.
Sophomore running back Duke Johnson suffered a broken right ankle Saturday night, an injury that will end his season, a source close to the situation told the Palm Beach Post in the hours after the Hurricanes’ loss. Johnson will undergo surgery this week.
Confirming the news Sunday, Golden was disappointed to see Johnson’s progress halted.
“He was just learning how to become a really good running back,” Golden said.
Johnson, a sophomore, is the nation’s 14th-leading rusher (second in the ACC) with 920 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 145 carries. He ranks fourth nationally with 174.13 all-purpose yards per game and 10th in kickoff return average (28.3).
In 2012, Johnson ran for 947 yards, a school record for a freshman. Edgerrin James, who rushed for 1,098 yards in 1997 and 1,416 in 1998, is the only other Hurricane with consecutive seasons of 900 yards or more. James, unlike Johnson, achieved those numbers in his final two years at UM.
After excelling in a limited role as a freshman, the 5-foot-9, 194-pound Johnson was used as a featured back this season. He had a personal-best 30 carries in Miami’s Oct. 26 win over Wake Forest.
He gained 97 yards on 23 carries Saturday before his injury, suffered at 1:22 of the third quarter when he took a fourth-and-2 carry off left tackle. He was stopped by FSU tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample, who was one of several players to fall on him. Johnson’s right ankle bent at a sharp angle underneath the pile.
He appeared to be in good spirits after the game, smiling at reporters as he left Doak Campbell Stadium on crutches, his ankle in a cast.
After allowing a season-high 517 total yards to the third-ranked Seminoles and gaining just 275, the Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1 in the ACC) dropped seven spots to No. 14 in both the AP and USA Today coaches polls.
They fell from seventh to 11th in the latest BCS standings, released Sunday evening.
Against the Seminoles, Miami, a 22-point underdog, watched a fine start spiral out of control. Quarterback Stephen Morris had two first-half TD passes but threw a pair of second-half interceptions. After holding Florida State to a 21-14 halftime lead, Miami’s defense had few answers for Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston.
The redshirt freshman added another piece to his Heisman Trophy resume, completing 21 of 29 passes for 325 yards and a TD. Miami intercepted him twice in the first half, scoring touchdowns on each, but wasn’t able to cover his receivers for four quarters. Winston went 11 of 15 over the final 30 minutes.
The Seminoles gained 7.1 yards per play. Running back Devonta Freeman, a Miami native who flashed the Hurricanes’ familiar “U” hand signal after one of his runs, had 176 total yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 78 yards and two scores and caught six passes for 98 yards and another TD.
Morris started 7 of 12 for 112 yards and two touchdowns, throwing a pair of pretty strikes to senior Allen Hurns. But the quarterback passed for just 80 yards after that, 34 coming on a garbage-time drive with less than a minute remaining. He finished 16 of 28 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
His two second-half interceptions helped allow FSU to turn a close game into a rout.
“Just too many little mistakes in the game,” Golden said. “Once we started getting behind, it unraveled a little bit.”
Aside from Johnson, Golden said, no UM players left the loss to Florida State with injuries. He gave his players Sunday off, hoping to rest them for a critical ACC Coastal game against Virginia Tech (7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN). The Hokies (6-3, 3-2 ACC) are one of the teams tied for second place in the division behind Miami.
“The reality is, we want to play six more games,” Golden said, referring to a potential ACC championship game, which likely would be a rematch with Florida State. “To do that, the only one you need to focus on is the next one.”