This victory was so huge that it warranted three honors for the Miami Hurricanes.
The Atlantic Coast Conference named three University of Miami football players as Players of the Week on Monday after their dominating performances in UM’s 41-8 pounding of then-No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Freshman offensive guard Navaughn Donaldson, sophomore linebacker Zach McCloud and junior safety Jaquan Johnson each had a piece of the ACC glory on Monday — Donaldson as Offensive Lineman of the Week, McCloud as Co-Linebacker of the Week and Johnson as Defensive Back of the Week.
UM leaped to No. 2 in the AP and coaches polls on Sunday, its highest ranking since 2003.
“We just came out and played to our standard,” Johnson said after the game. “We wanted to compete against a great offensive line and great running back and quarterback.”
Donaldson, UM’s 6-6, 350-pound right guard, made the sixth start of his career Saturday, helping lead Miami’s offense to a 374 to 261 yardage advantage and keeping quarterback Malik Rosier clean. UM had 237 rushing yards in the victory. Donaldson is from Miami and played at Miami Central, where his Rockets won the state championship his junior year. He was a consensus four-star recruit, an Under Armour All-American and rated the sixth best offensive tackle in the nation before coming to Miami.
He has proven to be every bit as valuable as the hype.
McCloud, UM’s 6-2, 230-pound strong-side backer out of Santaluces High in Lantana, came through big-time for the Canes on Saturday by helping to neutralize Heisman Trophy candidate Josh Adams, a running back who came into the game averaging 132 yards a game and with a total of 1,191 rushing yards. Adams, who was averaging 8.69 yards a carry — third best in the nation — finished with 40 yards on 16 carries, a 2.5-yard-per-carry average.
McCloud had five tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss against Notre Dame.
Johnson, the Canes’ 5-11, 190-pound, hard-hitting safety out of Miami Killian High, repeated as the ACC Defensive Back of the Week and earned Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors as well. He led all Hurricanes with eight tackles and had his third interception of the season early in the game. He also had a tackle for loss and broke up a pass. He is the team leader with 66 tackles and has started every game.
“We wanted to hold them to as minimum yards as possible,” Johnson said. “So that’s what we did. … We were able to dominate them.”
The Canes next meet Virginia (6-4, 3-3) at noon on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium, the final home game, known as Senior Day, of the season.
▪ The ACC announced that UM’s final regular-season game at Pittsburgh the day after Thanksgiving will kick off at noon and be aired on ABC. The Virginia game will also air on ABC.