Nesta Silvera hadn’t been in the game long before making his presence felt.
The Miami Hurricanes sophomore defensive tackle made his season debut against Virginia Tech. He’d missed the first four games of the season recovering from foot surgery after sustaining a right foot injury early in fall camp.
Silvera entered the game with 25 seconds left in the first quarter, and he immediately had a pressure that forced Hokies quarterback Hendon Hooker to throw the ball away.
Defensive coordinator Blake Baker said he thought Silvera was one of the bright spots of the defense against Virginia Tech.
The 6-2, 305-pound lineman recorded a tackle and a quarterback hurry in his return. He said being back on the field was a “great feeling,” and it was something that he wanted to soak in.
“It’s been a long time coming to just be out there and just playing football again,” Silvera said. “That’s all I was really worried about, just being out there with all the guys.”
Added defensive end Gregory Rousseau on seeing Silvera on the field again: “That’s my boy. I’m really happy for him. It’s great to see him out there doing big things. He really wanted to get back. He worked super hard since he’s been injured. I’m really just proud of him.”
Rousseau, who’s been a force for the Hurricanes’ defense with a team-high four sacks for 29 yards, added that the two talk before each game, even when Silvera was recovering from his injury.
“I was on the sideline with him talking about plays, talking about this and that, you know,” Rousseau said. “We’re always just there for each other, and before that game, I knew he was ready.
“He’s a guy who doesn’t need a pep talk before a big game. He’s a dog, for sure.”
When asked if he feels like he’s back to playing like the old Nesta Silvera, who recorded 13 tackles in 10 games as a true freshman in 2018, the Plantation American Heritage alum said he still has more work to do.
“It’s not a Nesta Silvera standard,” he said. “It’s a Miami standard that I gotta get to. So I just gotta keep working every day to get to that.”
The Hurricanes defense allowed the most points (42) it has all season in the loss to Virginia Tech. UM’s run defense had been stout early in the season, only allowing more than 61 rushing yards one time (97 against North Carolina), but the Hokies rushed for 153 yards.
With the performance of the defense, coach Manny Diaz said Monday he’d make changes ahead of the Friday night’s game against No. 20 Virginia (4-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), starting with being more involved with the defense in practice.
The Hurricanes (2-3, 0-2 ACC) have only practiced once since Diaz made that statement, but Rousseau said the change was noticeable.
“He’s definitely on us,” Rousseau said of Diaz’s new role with the defense. “Practice was really intense, for sure. It was really all about the details, little things and we’re really just trying to fine tune our craft and get ready for Friday. And just make sure everything’s in check and everything that we used to do, we’re still doing.”