University of Miami

UM Hurricanes still alive in ACC race entering crucial game vs. Virginia

Miami interim head coach Larry Scott congratulates Rayshawn Jenkins after a defensive stop during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
Miami interim head coach Larry Scott congratulates Rayshawn Jenkins after a defensive stop during the second half of an NCAA college football game, in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. AP

Just about anything after last weekend would seem normal, right?

The Miami Hurricanes, garbed in black with a touch of khaki to honor the U.S. Armed Forces, will learn the answer on Homecoming Saturday.

After one crazy week in which a controversial, eight-lateral touchdown sealed a Miami victory and created a national firestorm, the Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) return to Sun Life Stadium at 3 p.m. to take on the Virginia Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2).

The victory at Duke energized the Hurricanes and got them believing again after a sad sequence the previous week encompassed the worst loss in UM history, coach Al Golden’s firing and the death of cornerback Artie Burn’s mother.

UM quarterback Brad Kaaya, who sustained a concussion in the 58-0 loss to Clemson, practiced this week but was still not cleared to play as of Thursday night. He was listed as questionable on the injury report, and UM said it would not have an update until game day.

Kaaya’s backup, Malik Rosier, who excelled in his first career start at Duke, could start again, though Rosier sustained an undisclosed injury at Duke.

And though the Hurricanes talk frequently about only looking ahead, the administration looked back at the Duke game on Thursday and Friday with letters to UM season-ticket holders, Hurricane Club members and the “University of Miami Community.’’ The letters lauded the victory, and on Thursday in the first letter by athletic director Blake James, revealed that ACC officials privately acknowledged that there were “multiple incorrect calls’’ that affected Miami in the game.

On Friday, new UM president Julio Frenk wrote a letter saying he was “deeply touched by the passionate and hard-won victory of our team. … This is a team that in recent days experienced great adversity. They came together in a united and inspired effort to face these challenges head on. Our student-athletes played their hearts out and won the game fairly with a spectacular play that showed their commitment to winning to the very final seconds.

“In the aftermath of the controversy related to the officiating of the game against Duke, I wish to express my disappointment with statements that question the legitimacy of our victory. Let me be clear: Both teams fought hard and at the highest levels of competition, and in the end the University of Miami won.’’

The Hurricanes must continue winning, with four games left in the regular season, to stay alive in the Coastal Division race of the ACC.

“That has always been our goal from Day One,’’ UM interim coach Larry Scott said this week. “That will continue to be our focus each and every week.’’

To win the Coastal, which would catapult Miami into its first ACC title game against the winner of the Atlantic Division, the Hurricanes would have to defeat Virginia, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech at home and Pittsburgh on the road the day after Tha nksgiving.

UM also needs UNC (7-1, 4-0) to lose one game — Saturday to Duke (6-2, 3-1) in Chapel Hill would be advantageous; and Duke to lose one more afterward.

That would establish a three-way, first-place tie in the Coastal, and Miami would prevail because of head-to-head wins. But even if Miami’s dream scenario doesn’t materialize, a win against Virginia would qualify the Hurricanes for a bowl game.

The Cavaliers, coming off a win against Georgia Tech, have defeated the Hurricanes four of the past five years. Last year the Canes had just lost to Florida State and fell apart the rest of the way, beginning with an ugly 30-13 loss in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Entering this week, the Cavaliers have averaged 24.4 points a game and have allowed an average of 33 points, while the Canes are allowing 27.6 points and averaging 29.

Defensively, Virginia has one interception, and has thrown 14.

The Hurricanes are sixth nationally in turnover margin, with 11 interceptions grabbed among five players.

“I just know that our kids have played well against them,’’ Virginia coach Mike London said. “The way I look at it, it’s a road opportunity for us.’’

Corn Elder, the return specialist who scored the winning touchdown last week at Duke, agreed that Canes had more fire this week after what he called his “miracle’’ kickoff return.

“Oh, yeah, definitely,’’ Elder said. “Coming off a big win like that the emotion is still high and we want to keep it going.

“They’re always a good team… They’ve beaten us four out of the past five times, but this team is special and we’re ready.”

Saturday: Virginia at Miami

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

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

Favorite: Miami by 7.

Records: Miami 5-3 (2-2 ACC); Virginia 3-6 (2-2 ACC).

Series: Tied 6-6.

Miami injuries: Questionable — QB Brad Kaaya (concussion); WR Rashawn Scott (shoulder). Out —LB Raphael Kirby (knee); LB Marques Gayot (neck); LB Darrion Owens (knee); RB Gus Edwards (foot).

Virginia injuries: Questionable — RB Albert Reid (concussion); FB Connor Wingo-Reeves (concussion); DB Divante Walker (lower body). Out — OL Michael Mooney (knee); LB Malcolm Cook (upper body); WR Andre Levrone (back); LB Ryan Doull (undisclosed); C Eric Tretlow (lower body); OT Jake Fieler (lower body); WR Umar Muhammad-Wyatt (knee).

PROBABLE UM STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

12

Malik Rosier

Fr.

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

51

Juwon Young

So.

TE

5

Standish Dobard

Jr.

LB

5

Jermaine Grace

Jr.

LT

73

Trevor Darling

So.

LB

8

A. Muhammad

So.

LG

52

Kc McDermott

So.

CB

3

Tracy Howard

Sr.

C

68

Nick Linder

So.

CB

1

Artie Burns

Jr.

RG

50

Daniel 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 STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

15

Matt Johns

Jr.

DE

34

Kwontie Moore

Sr.

TB

4

Taquan Mizzell

Jr.

DT

55

David Dean

Sr.

FB

47

Vincent Croce

Sr.

DT

9

Andrew Brown

So.

WR

9

Canaan Severin

Sr.

DE

43

Trent Corney

Sr.

WR

85

Keeon Johnson

Jr.

LB

32

Mike Moore

Sr.

TE

86

Charlie Hopkins

Sr.

LB

53

Micah Kiser

So.

LT

67

Jack English

So.

LB

51

Zach Bradshaw

Jr.

LG

65

Ross Burbank

Sr.

CB

26

Maurice Canady

Sr.

C

50

Jackson Matteo

Jr.

CB

1

D. Nicholson

Sr.

RG

77

Jay Whitmire

Sr.

FS

3

Quin Blanding

So.

RT

72

Eric Smith

Jr.

SS

38

Kelvin Rainey

Jr.

PK

14

Ian Frye

Sr.

P

18

Nicholas Conte

Jr.

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