The Miami Hurricanes have spent all season praising Gregory Rousseau. Blake Baker has spent weeks saying the defensive lineman has earned more playing time.
Miami rewarded him Friday against the No. 20 Virginia Cavaliers. Rousseau got the nod for his first career start at Hard Rock Stadium, starting opposite Jonathan Garvin at defensive end.
Garvin and fellow defensive lineman Scott Patchan had been the two starting ends in each of the Hurricanes’ first five games. Defensive linemen Pat Bethel and Jonathan Ford are the two starting defensive tackles for the sixth straight game.
Despite playing relatively limited snaps all season, Rousseau has been the Hurricanes’ most productive pass rusher. Entering Friday, the defensive end led Miami with 5 1/2 tackles for loss and four sacks despite coming off the bench in each of the first five games. Trevon Hill was the only other defensive lineman with multiple sacks in the Hurricanes’ first five games.
Rousseau has spent nearly two years impressing multiple Miami coaching staffs. He arrived in Coral Gables as an early enrollee last year out of Champagnat Catholic and wowed coaches with his 6-foot-6 frame and rare athleticism. He cracked the two-deep depth chart for the start of his freshman year before an ankle injury cut short his debut season after just two games.
Now listed at 260 pounds, Rousseau has been a terror for the Hurricanes as a third-down specialist, big enough to occasionally line up as a defensive tackle in obvious passing situations. In Miami’s loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday, Rousseau played 22 snaps, which was actually a drop from the 33 he played in the prior game, a narrow win against the Central Michigan Chippewas in Miami Gardens. Patchan, however, played only 17 snaps as the starter after playing 46 against Central Michigan.