University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes ready for key Coastal Division game vs. Virginia Tech

Miami's quarterback Brad Kaaya calls a play against Florida State on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State won 29-24.
Miami's quarterback Brad Kaaya calls a play against Florida State on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State won 29-24. AP

As the Hurricanes proclaimed they had shifted their focus to Virginia Tech, what has now become known as “the Florida State hangover” loomed menacingly at week’s start.

Would Miami, as it has the past two seasons, crumble after investing so much into its ultimately losing effort against its arch rival?

Or would the Hurricanes finally overcome that albatross, look ahead to the Coastal Division goal they’ve been espousing since fall camp, and, as a popular saying goes, “Keep calm and carry on?”

The college football world will learn the answer Saturday when the Canes (3-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) meet the Coastal Division rival Hokies (3-3, 1-1) at 3:30 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium.

Virginia Tech rebounded from losses to East Carolina and Pittsburgh with a come-from-behind victory a week ago Friday over then 4-1 North Carolina State.

UM has lost two in a row after a 3-0 start.

“Yeah, we’re still not happy about it,” receiver Braxton Berrios said Tuesday, the first day of availability after UM’s 29-24 loss in Tallahassee. “We’re trying not to think about it. We’re moving on.”

Trying not to think about it?

“It’s not something that you just walk away from,” conceded Berrios. “It’s a consistent effort to stay focused on Virginia Tech and that’s what we’re doing around here. You want fuel, and that was it.

“Nobody is supposed to be used to losing. That’s a problem if you are. We’re trying to keep each other up and keep each other focused on the Coastal. We’ve got to win the Coastal, that’s the goal. If that doesn’t happen that’s a major disappointment.”

This will be UM’s first Coastal Division game of six on the schedule. The other two ACC opponents — FSU and No. 5 Clemson next Saturday — are in the Atlantic Division. They all count, but defeating the Coastal Division teams is imperative to get to the Dec. 5 ACC Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Miami was a 4 1/2-point favorite as of Friday.

Nobody is supposed to be used to losing. That’s a problem if you are.

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Last year’s 30-6 UM victory in Blacksburg had the Canes rushing for 364 yards — 249 by departed all-time Miami rusher Duke Johnson and 115 by Gus Edwards, out for the season with an injury.

The Canes struggled in the run game last week at Florida State, netting 20 yards, and are expected to make changes in the offensive line. The lethargic running, in turn, necessitated an imbalanced offense that had Brad Kaaya passing 49 times.

“It’s not a secret that we want to be a balanced team,” UM coach Al Golden said this week.

Offensive coordinator James Coley was asked if given the recent run-blocking, would he consider having the tight ends stay in more.

“Absolutely. 100 percent,” said Coley, who described the Virginia Tech defense as fast with “violent players.”

But the biggest question for the Hurricanes in preparing for the Hokies is whom they will face at quarterback. Former starter Michael Brewer broke his left collarbone in the season opener against Ohio State and has been cleared to practice the past two weeks. But despite being listed as probable, he didn’t play against North Carolina State, and likely won’t start Saturday.

Former backup Brenden Motley has continued to improve the past five weeks, throwing for 1,213 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions — three against Pitt. Motley, a 6-3, 221-pound redshirt junior, likes to run, and is the type of dual threat the Canes have struggled against for several years.

Another matter to consider: Although Motley was not on the Hokies’ injury report this week, he sustained an ankle injury against N.C. State that had him in a walking boot last weekend, the Roanoke Times reported.

“We’ll see what the doctors say at the end of the week,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said of Brewer. “We’re fortunate right now that we’ve got two quarterbacks that can win games for us.”

Beamer, the winningest active coach (276-141-4) in the Football Bowl Subdivision, is 2-2 against the Canes since Golden took over in 2011. Both coaches are feeling the heat from the outside and need to keep winning for job security. Each admires the other.

“The one word that I’d use for Virginia Tech concerning Miami over the years is respect,” Beamer said. “We’ve always respected what a history they had, what a great program they are, and the talent level they’ve got.”

Golden used the same word.

“I have a great deal of respect for Coach Beamer and [his] staff and how they operate and the type of football they play,” he said. “That’s all we need to get our attention.”

Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan

Saturday: Virginia Tech at Miami

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.; Sun Life Stadium.

TV/radio: ESPNU; WQAM 560; WURN 1020 (Spanish); WVUM 90.5 FM.

Favorite: Miami by 4 1/2.

Records: Miami 3-2 (0-1 ACC); Virginia Tech 3-3 (1-1 ACC).

Series: Miami leads 19-13.

Miami injuries: Questionable — DL Demetrius Jackson (foot); DL Kendrick Norton (ankle). Out — LB Marques Gayot (neck); LB Darrion Owens (knee); RB Gus Edwards (foot).

Virginia Tech injuries: Questionable — DB Desmond Frye (hamstring); LB Raymon Minor (shoulder); DT Ricky Walker (elbow). Doubtful — DL Corey Marshall (hamstring). Out — RB Marshawn Williams (knee); CB Kendall Fuller (knee); RB Shai McKenzie (knee).

PROBABLE UM STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

15

Brad Kaaya

So.

DE

9

Chad Thomas

So.

RB

2

Joe Yearby

So.

NT

93

Calvin Heurtelou

Sr.

FB

40

Gage Batten

Jr.

DT

92

Courtel Jenkins

So.

WR

6

Herb Waters

Sr.

LB

35

Trent Harris

So.

WR

11

Rashawn Scott

Sr.

LB

56

Raphael Kirby

Sr.

TE

5

Standish Dobard

Jr.

LB

5

Jermaine Grace

Sr.

LT

73

Trevor Darling

So.

LB

8

A. Muhammad

So.

LG

67

Alex Gall

Jr.

CB

3

Tracy Howard

Sr.

C

68

Nick Linder

So.

CB

1

Artie Burns

Jr.

RG

63

Danny Isidora

Jr.

S

25

Dallas Crawford

Sr.

RT

66

Sunny Odogwu

So.

S

2

Deon Bush

Sr.

PK

15

Michael Badgley

So.

P

16

Justin Vogel

Jr.

PROBABLE VIRGINIA TECH STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

9

Brenden Motley

Jr.

DE

4

Ken Ekanem

Jr.

RB

34

Travon McMillian

Fr.

NT

96

Corey Marshall

Sr.

FB

45

Sam Rogers

Jr.

DT

92

Luther Maddy

Sr.

WR

5

Cam Phillips

Jr.

DE

90

Dadi Nicolas

Sr.

WR

1

Isaiah Ford

So.

LB

37

Ronny Vandyke

Sr.

TE

88

Ryan Malleck

Sr.

LB

54

A. Motuapuaka

So.

LT

71

J. McLaughlin

Jr.

LB

40

Deon Clarke

Sr.

LG

57

Wyatt Teller

So.

CB

31

Brandon Facyson

So.

C

64

Eric Gallo

So.

CB

6

Mook Reynolds

Fr.

RG

72

Augie Conte

Jr.

S

36

Adonis Alexander

Fr.

RT

77

Wade Hansen

Sr.

S

19

Chuck Clark

Jr.

PK

46

Joey Slye

So.

P

27

A.J. Hughes

Sr.

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