ORLANDO ― Miami’s gold, garish “turnover chain,” arguably college football’s most prominent piece of swag, made its 2019 debut early in the second quarter.
And a bay area dude was brandishing it.
Redshirt senior defensive end Scott Patchan, whose bizarre collegiate odyssey has included a handful of position changes and seven position coaches, recovered a fumble inside his own 10 following a botched Feleipe Franks handoff. The play prevented UF from potentially taking a 14-3 lead at that point.
Patchan, who attended Freedom High before landing at IMG, made his first career start Saturday in Miami’s 24-20 loss to Florida. He finished with five tackles, four in the first half.
The chain itself is in its third iteration. The one sported by Patchan features a gold “305” charm — 10 inches wide — weighing half a kilogram and featuring more than 2,000 white sapphire stones, according to UM.
“You’re always looking to sort of spice it up," 'Canes coach Manny Diaz said. “I thought the ’305′ thing (the Miami/Dade area code) came out really well and the kids loved it when they saw it."
It wasn’t the only accessory worn Saturday by the ’Canes.
After his 25-yard scoring reception with 45 seconds to play in the first half, tight end Brevin Jordan was presented UM’s glittering “touchdown rings” for each hand (think green brass knuckles that spell out “Hurricanes”). The TD rings are made of orange and green sapphires and contain almost 500 stones.
“We talked about the offense wanting something for themselves," Diaz added.
"The chain’s kind of unique for the defense; they wanted something different, so we got us some touchdown rings that they like. ... Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of 'em.”
Fourth and fearless
In his de facto homecoming, veteran Gators punter Tommy Townsend did more Saturday than make a difference with his formidable right foot.
He made a difference with the right and left.
On Florida’s first punt attempt, on fourth-and-3 from his own 28, Townsend took the snap and scurried to his left for a 6-yard gain. The next play, receiver Kadarius Toney took a screen pass from Franks and converted it to a 66-yard touchdown.
The fourth-down attempt was among four the Gators tried ― and converted ― in the game. UF was 11-for-20 on fourth down in 2018.
The fake was the second for Townsend, an alumnus of Orlando’s Boone High. Last season, he converted a fake for an 18-yard gain and first down at Vanderbilt.
Sacks aplenty for UF
While first-time Miami redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams generally got solid marks for his starting debut (19-for-29, 214 yards, one touchdown, no picks), he mostly struggled to elude Florida’s fierce pass rush.
The Gators finished with 10 sacks, including three on UM’s final offensive possession.
“They have a young quarterback and a young offensive line,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said.
“We have some veteran guys up front on defense, and we kept the pressure on them and kept the pressure on them at the end-of-the-game situation ― kind of forced where they’re having to throw the ball a little bit and we can get after them.”
The 10 sacks were UF’s highest single-game total since its national title season of 1996, and marked the sixth time in 14 games under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham in which it has tallied more than five sacks.
“A lot of (the sacks) weren’t on my o-line, a lot of them were on me," said Williams, who officially finished with minus-44 rushing yards.
"I felt like a couple of times I got pressure, and I became a runner instead of remaining a passer and keeping my eyes downfield. That’s definitely something I’ll learn from.”
Camping ‘Whistle’ Stadium
A reader advisory here: This game’s final penalty numbers aren’t for the squeamish.
The teams combined for 23 penalties for 225 yards, figures bloated by Gators two pass-interference penalties on UM’s last-gasp offensive possession.
Miami’s most glaring self-infliction occurred after striker Romeo Finley’s late fourth-period interception of Franks with the 'Canes down by only four. Al Blades was whistled for taunting on the play, and UM was flagged for an illegal chop block the following play.
“This just shows we’re not ready to be a big-time team yet,” Diaz said.
Four Gators suspended
Florida’s offseason of attrition spilled into Saturday’s opener.
The No. 8 Gators suspended four players, including safety Brad Stewart and defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton, Saturday for failing to “live up to the Gator standard.” The announcement was made seven minutes before kickoff.
Stewart started seven games for UF last year. He had 41 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception as a sophomore. Stewart was listed as a co-starter at safety on Monday’s depth chart.
Should his absence stretch past Saturday, it could be pivotal on a UF secondary that’s talented but thin. The Gators lost three defensive backs this offseason, including top recruit Chris Steele and breakout candidate John Huggins.
Slaton was listed as a second- or third-team nose tackle and started two games last season. He recorded 21 tackles (one for a loss) and recovered a fumble.
UF’s other two suspensions were receiver Rick Wells and Pat Moorer, a walk-on from Lutz and son of the former Gators linebacker of the same name.
Miami wasn’t at full strength, either.
Cornerback DJ Ivey didn’t play due to a violation of school rules and didn’t travel to Orlando. Listed as a co-starter on the ‘Canes’ initial depth chart, he played in 11 games last season as a true freshman.
Odds and ends
Former UF coach Urban Meyer was in attendance, wearing a blue Gators polo-style shirt, no less. ... Florida held Miami to a 2-for-13 effort on third down, meaning its last two ACC foes (including FSU) has gone a combined 3-for-27 on third down. ... Prior to Toney’s 66-yard touchdown reception, UM hadn’t allowed a pass play longer than 45 yards since Nov. 18, 2017. ... During a pregame media session, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey indicated he has no problem with the NCAA entertaining the idea of more teams opening their seasons the weekend before Labor Day. Saturday’s contest at Camping World Stadium, and Arizona’s late game at Hawaii, were the only two “Week Zero” games involving Division I-A teams.
Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report.