University of Miami

Miami-Virginia Tech notebook: quarterback switch, defense takes step back and a Hail Mary

Jarren Williams had thrown 117 passes without an interception.

That streak ended early in the first quarter after a batted ball ended up in the hands of Hokies cornerback Jermaine Waller.

Williams’ day only got worse. After throwing interceptions on the Canes’ next two drives, the redshirt-freshman didn’t even get to see the second quarter. His day ended after only three drives when N’Kosi Perry was handed the keys to the Canes’ offense with 3:19 left in the first quarter.

With 10:30 left in the second quarter, Williams was briefly taken to the locker room. He returned to the sideline just before the nine minute mark and could be seen stretching his shoulder.

Per Saturday’s ESPN broadcast, the right-handed Williams told a sideline reporter last week that he’s been with a sore throwing shoulder.



RUSHING DEFENSE REGRESSION

The Canes’ rushing defense seemed to regress in the bye week. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Canes ranked sixth nationally having only allowed 59.8 rushing yards per game. The Hokies more than doubled that in the first half.

Led by quarterback Hendon Hooker, the Hokies rushed for 126 yards in the first half. A combination of the Canes’ poor tackling, defensive play calling and the Hokies’ elusive running style allowed Tech to run all over Hard Rock Stadium.

This was evidenced by Hooker’s two third down conversions – including one touchdown – on the Hokies’ opening drive. On the first play, Hooker dropped back to pass, didn’t like what he saw and made multiple defenders miss en route to a 15-yard gain. On the second, the Canes had great coverage but forgot to account for Hooker who strolled untouched into the endzone.



HAIL MARY TOUCHDOWN

Mark Pope made sure his first career touchdown catch was exciting.

The sophomore wide receiver had a 38-yard touchdown grab as time expired at the end of the first half after quarterback N’Kosi Perry launched the ball up toward the end zone.

Pope suffered a lower-leg injury against Bethune-Cookman and didn’t play in the team’s last game against Central Michigan.

ZACH McCLOUD’S FUTURE

Fourth-year senior linebacker Zach McCloud played sparingly in UM’s first three games, and didn’t play at all against Central Michigan or Saturday against the Hokies. UM coach Manny Diaz told reporters recently that McCloud asked to redshirt this season, if possible, so he could come back and make his mark next year. He has one more game he can play to maintain his redshirt status, and will only be used in an emergency situation unless he gets that fourth appearance in a bowl game, Diaz said.

Fellow fourth-year senior linebacker Mike Pinckney was asked going into Saturday’s game how he felt about McCloud’s decision.

“That’s a grown man decision,’’ McCloud said. “That’s tough for any player to do, even a three-year starter. You’ve got to take it for what it’s worth and be strong enough mentally to take that and [know] what’s the best thing for the team and the best thing for yourself.

“So, hats off to him, the way he’s worked. I know he switched workouts to be in the developmental workout, just trying to get better. His whole demeanor about the thing, how he’s going about it, is great.’’

What was your reaction when you found out?

“We was in practice, you know, going through warmups. And he was, like, I’m redshirting. I thought he was playing with me. He was like, ‘No, I’m serious. I’m going to redshirt.’

“I’m like, ‘That’s tough, man.’ So, hats off once again. Great dude.”

What will that do for McCloud, being able to lead the younger linebackers next season?

“They kind of needed that. You’ve got [Waynmon] Steed and you’ve got BJ [Bradley Jennings] coming back, but having a fifth-year senior, somebody that’s been in the program for years to come back and just preach what Coach Diaz is trying to funnel through the team, you never get too many players who can do that — especially a guy like that.’’

THIS AND THAT

  • Bubba Bolden, Lorenzo Lingard and Nesta Jade Silvera all saw the field for the first time this season. While Bolden and Silvera got defensive snaps, Lingard served on the punt return team.

  • Tight end Brevin Jordan recorded his first-career 100-yard game. He hauled in seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.

  • N’Kosi Perry surpassed a career high in passing after replacing Jarren Williams in the first quarter. Perry threw for 402 yards on 28-of-47 passing with four touchdowns and an interception.

  • Miami right guard Jakai Clark went down with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

  • The Hurricanes honored their 2020 Sports Hall-of-Fame class at the end of the first quarter. Three – Mike Ward (track and field), Johnny Hemsley (basketball) and Brittney Steinbruch (soccer) – of the eight were in attendance.

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C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.
Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.
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