The Hurricanes’ defense proved smothering again Saturday in Miami’s 28-10 win over Virginia Tech at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami held the Hokies to 102 rushing yards and 197 passing yards for 299 total – 147 yards below their average.
The Canes, who came into the week fourth in the nation in sacks and third in tackles for loss, had four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
As is usually the case, the defense shared the glory.
Four players got to wear the coveted turnover chain that gets awarded for a takeaway:
▪ Safety Jaquan Johnson, who forced a fumble and also intercepted a Josh Jackson pass at the UM 24 before returning it 20 yards to the 44 late in the third quarter. Jackson also had a team-high seven tackles along with cornerback Malek Young and defensive end Joe Jackson.
▪ Safety Sheldrick Redwine, who had six tackles and ran back an interception 45 yards with eight seconds left in the game.
▪ Jon Garvin, who sacked Jackson and forced a fumble for a 7-yard loss midway through the fourth quarter, then recovered the fumble.
▪ Tackle RJ McIntosh, who picked up receiver Sean Savoy’s fumble and powered down the field for 35 yards before he went down.
“I played a little quarterback in high school,’’ the 6-4, 293-pound junior McIntosh said, grinning. “But that was on the goal line to score easily. I’ve never run that far...I know my brother...is going to blow my phone up about not scoring, but I’ll be alright.’’
“If you were in my way, you were going to get run over. It was a special moment for me. I always dreamed of doing something like that.’’
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said his defense is “really, really desperate to score on defense... As a coach, you’re always thinking about the plays that you wish you still stopped, but I thought our [guys were] relentless. Our effort from start to finish was really good.’’
Defensive end Jackson had a dominating game. It included the seven tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries.
Tackle Kendrick Norton added a sack and 1 ½ tackles for loss; and freshman safety Amari Carter had his first career sack and tackle for loss.
FANS ROCK AT HARD ROCK
The crowd of 63,932 was the largest since the 65,685 for the Florida State game last year. Diaz said the atmosphere “had that feel’’ of old-time Canes’ games.
“It was an hour before kickoff when our guys came out and they just noticed the difference in the energy. The student section brought it, the fans brought it. Let me go backwards: Two hours before kickoff, just when the buses pulled up and seeing the scene going on in the parking lot, it let our guys know that the city is with them. And that’s the relationship between Hurricane football and South Florida.’’
Added Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson: “Calling the plays a couple times maybe some of our linemen didn’t hear it completely. It was a great crowd.’’
And Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster compared the “great atmosphere’’ to when “[Michael] Vick came to the [Orange Bowl] his sophomore year... They beat us, we were a top-five football program at that time. I have not seen the atmosphere like this in a long, long time. It was a good night for the Canes.’’
▪ Senior kicker Michael Badgley on Thursday was named a semifinalist for the 2017 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award that goes to the top kicker in college football. Badgley, from Summit, N.J., came into Saturday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium hitting 12 of his 14 field goal attempts and making all 26 of his extra points. He ranked third in the ACC and 19th nationally with a field goal percentage of 85.7, and this season, his 2.10 field-goals-per-game average was 15th-best nationally and second-best in the ACC.
But Saturday was one of Badgley’s quietest games all season, as he kicked four extra points but didn’t attempt any field goals.
▪ Running back Travis Homer rushed for a game-high 95 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown, and added 20 receiving yards. His 64-yard rushing touchdown marked the longest rush of his career and fourth-longest offensive play of the season.
▪ Receiver Braxton Berrios finished with 50 receiving yards on three catches, including an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter. His seven receiving touchdowns lead Miami...Berrios completed a 17-yard pass to quarterback Malik Rosier on a trick play in UM’s first offensive drive.
▪ Evidence that this game had plenty of future NFL players: Scouts from the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers were signed up to attend.