It was the tackle heard ‘round the world.
But it did create quite a commotion Saturday afternoon on the University of Miami sideline.
Standish Dobard, the epitome of unselfishness, had asked Hurricanes coach Mark Richt a few weeks ago if he could switch from tight end to defensive end to help a Miami D-line that was reeling from injuries.
“A lot of D-ends were getting hurt,’’ the senior explained this week, “and I knew I wasn’t playing that much on offense, so I just tried to make an impact on defense to help the team.’’
Dobard did just that, tackling Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman after a three-yard rush with about two minutes left in a 51-28 UM victory.
It might as well have been the play that saved the game, given the joyous sideline reaction of the Miami defense.
“I don’t think there was a person whose feet were on the ground when he tackled the quarterback,’’ UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said Wednesday after practice. “That, in a way, is as exciting as any other play that happened in the course of the game. When you see the team’s response, you know it’s genuine.’’
And the 6-4, 252-pound Dobard, who came to Miami (5-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) as a four-star tight end after leading New Orleans Edna Karr High to the 2012 state title, has genuinely been a team player. His career has likely not been what he envisioned when he signed with UM in 2013 as the nation’s fourth best tight end, per ESPN.com, but he has always seemed to keep a positive attitude.
I don’t think there was a person whose feet were on the ground when he tackled the quarterback. That, in a way, is as exciting as any other play that happened in the course of the game. When you see the team’s response, you know it’s genuine.
Manny Diaz, UM defensive coordinator
“Yeah, everyone went crazy,’’ Dobard, who took part in “four or five’’ plays, said of his tackle. “I was just excited to be out there. When I made the tackle, I looked to the sideline and I seen everybody was happy so it was a good feeling.
“I think I like defense better. I just like hitting people.’’
Defensive end Chad Thomas was asked how happy he was to see Dobard finally get in a game on defense and make a play.
“Oh, it felt real good,’’ Thomas said. “Before the quarterback even snapped the ball I told our team chaplain that Stan was going to get a sack. He couldn’t get a sack, but he did tackle the quarterback. Because I seen how he worked all week and I know he got the dog mentality.’’
Richt said he liked the idea of Dobard switching. Dobard entered the Pittsburgh game with two catches for 32 yards this season. His career totals with three regular-season games left, including Saturday’s at Virginia (2-7, 1-4): 18 catches for 284 yards and one touchdown.
“Stan played defensive line in eighth grade, OK, so he had some experience,’’ Rich said lightheartedly. “He saw the team needed help. He knew had at least the body type and athletic ability. As it turns out, we’re getting more guys back healthy, but we’ve kept him over there because he has been doing a good job and enjoying it.
“If we need him to play tight end he could do that in a pinch, too.’’
Returning this week to the lineup after missing three games will be former starting defensive end Demetrius Jackson, who injured his left knee Oct. 15 against North Carolina and has missed three games.
Jackson, a redshirt sophomore, said it’s been “great’’ watching Dobard make the transition to defensive end.
“I think he’s a raw talent,’’ Jackson said. “I wish he had another year. With coaching, Stan would be a good prospect at defensive end. He’s like a sponge. He catches on quick.’’
Diaz reminded reporters Wednesday that after all, college football is a game, and that one of the joys of coaching is to see players who work as hard as Dobard be rewarded.
“Again, this is a temporary thing,’’ Diaz said, “and they are just kids. So you want them to have memories. When the game ends, you want them to have a positive experience looking back.’’