The University of Miami football team’s offensive woes continued Thursday night.
In front of a hostile crowd of 63,507 at Lane Stadium, the Canes offense was stuck in neutral, showing flashes of brilliance but an inability to consistently sustain drives. Miami was 3 for 15 on third down and only had 16 points despite 365 yards of total offense.
“I thought our guys handled it well and all that,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “We were not able to execute well enough to sustain drives offensively.”
Before the Hurricanes’ current three-game losing skid, the team had averaged more than 35 points per game. They managed just 16 against Virginia Tech after scoring 13 against North Carolina last week and 19 against Florida State the week prior.
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“We just have to come together at every position,” quarterback Brad Kaaya said. “On third down especially we have to do the right thing and stay on the field. And when we do make plays and plays are there to be made I think our offense executes very well. But in order to get to that point everyone has to do their job.”
Kaaya had an up-and-down performance, getting consistently punished by a high-pressure Virginia Tech defense.
Early in the fourth quarter of the game, the junior was 20-for-34 passing while he threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns. However the Canes had a difficult time moving the ball consistently save a drive with less than a 1:30 left in the first half, where the Canes marched down the field 75 yards in just over a minute for a touchdown. Kicker Michael Badgley then missed an extra point.
Miami’s offensive line was even more inconsistent, even though the Hokies had two starting defensive linemen out the defense spent much of the game harassing Kaaya, forcing him to take shots down the field. Sophomore tackle Tyree St. Louis was called for two false-start penalties and Virginia Tech was able to mostly stymie UM’s running game by early in the fourth quarter.
The Hurricanes couldn’t free much space for their running backs Joe Yearby and Mark Walton. The Hurricanes managed 42 yards on the ground while the Hokies had 12 tackles for loss.
Miami receivers also had a tough time getting open in a stingy Hokie secondary. Kaaya threw a number of deep balls that fell harmlessly to the Lane Stadium turf.
The line also proved leaky on passing downs, which meant Brad Kaaya sustained several big hits.
“You are going to get hit, and you are going to get tackled,” Richt said. “… The quarterback is in a more vulnerable position, though, when he is in the pocket and he is looking downfield trying to make decisions. In my opinion, I don’t think I coached him well enough in this game to cut the ball loose on time.”
By early in the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech managed eight sacks against the offensive line, which has given up 13 sacks in its past three games. Pressure from Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s unit also forced Kaaya to throw an interception and disrupted Miami’s timing consistently.
“I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus,” Richt said. “Sacks have to do with a lot of things… Putting all the sacks on the offensive line is really not a fair assessment. If you throw the ball as many times as we throw, there are going to be some sacks here and there.”