Despite statisticians occasionally getting confused, the young Hurricane wearing jersey No. 17 — the one that Miami fans have witnessed pummel a couple quarterbacks this season — is not the No. 17 that takes snaps from center.
“Yes, Ma’am,” said Miami defensive end Tyriq McCord, when asked whether he likes having the same number as quarterback Stephen Morris. “It’s pretty cool.”
McCord’s announcement to attend UM came minutes after recording a sack for a 15-yard loss in the first half of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
“I’m going to take my talents to South Beach,” the confident Tampa Jefferson senior said on national TV from San Antonio, Texas.
Today, the former four-star recruit is glad he did.
So are the Hurricanes.
In his limited snaps (mostly on third down) as a reserve defensive end, the true freshman leads Miami in sacks with three, has 11 tackles, a pass breakup and earned his first fumble recovery against Florida State.
Granted, Miami’s nine sacks rank 109th of 120 FBS teams. But with the Canes’ biggest struggles up front, they could use every bit of push they get, even if it’s from an 18-year-old who still wants to pack on about 30 pounds by next season to help him battle some Goliaths on the offensive line.
“Sometimes I get pushed around,” said McCord, who is 6-3 and 232 pounds. “I’ve just got to match my opponent. I’m not as strong as him, but I’m faster than him right now at this level. So, if I could have the speed and strength I’ll be a force to be reckoned with.’’
The Hurricanes (4-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) face Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2) in a crucial ACC Coastal Division matchup Thursday night on national television. The Hokies are struggling on offense, but quarterback Logan Thomas — who leads the team with five touchdowns — can take off and run. The Hokies beat UM last year on Thomas’s 19-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds left in the game.
“Every offensive [lineman] is good,” McCord said Sunday. “From film and everything I’ve been watching, they’re very aggressive.”
Golden said his youngest defenders “are starting to execute their roles very well. Tyriq, for sure, in terms of the pass rush he’s giving us on third down and the energy he brings when he comes in.”
Starting defensive tackle Olsen Pierre, who is up to 295 pounds, said McCord is “a young, energetic kid who loves to be on the field and has a lot of speed. If he gets bigger and stronger he’ll be one of the best.”
After the loss to FSU, McCord agreed that he came out with an edge, but that he and his teammates need to carry that momentum through four quarters.
The Canes led 10-3 after the first quarter against the then-No. 12 Seminoles, and were down by only three points heading into the final quarter. That’s when FSU took charge and scored 17 points.
“We knew how important this game was,” McCord said. “We told ourselves we were going to fight.”
He said the key for the final four regular-season games would be to not only “start out strong,” but “finish with the same tempo, same intensity.”
Last year at Tampa Jefferson, McCord had 59 tackles, 11 1/2 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. As a tight end, he caught 14 passes for 276 yards and a TD. He helped lead Jefferson to an undefeated record and 3A state title in his junior season, when he had 18 1/2 sacks.
McCord’s play is especially important with fellow end Kelvin Cain off the team — possibly temporarily — while he gets his personal situation in order.
“I hope he’s back,” McCord said. “He should be back. The team misses him. I talked to him Friday or Saturday and he told me he wants to come back.’’
McCord said he needed his first open week of the season, and that high school football does not come close to the grind of big-time college ball.
“Nothing compares,’’ he said after the FSU game. “We do need a break. This might be the answer.”
Golden was asked Sunday whether there was an incident with freshman linebacker Gabe Terry, who, according to Internet chatter, is suspended for fighting with freshman defensive lineman Jelani Hamilton.
“Is he suspended?” Golden said. “I don’t even know what incident you’re talking about. I have no idea.”
Golden said both players were at practice Sunday.
“Gabe is playing a lot of special teams,” Golden said. “Jelani is competing right now with [Jalen] Grimble for the second end spot. Neither one is a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. But good attitude, keep moving forward and live and learn.”