Bryant McKinnie was warned all week long about Syracuse’s highly touted Dwight Freeney and his 16 1/2 sacks.
But when the two projected NFL linemen battled each other on Saturday, it was Freeney who was admiring his opponent.
“In the middle of the game one time he tried a little spin move that I had been studying all week, and I stopped it,” McKinnie said. “He was just like, ‘That was a good job.'”
McKinnie had plenty of similar plays against the Lombardi Award finalist. McKinnie did not allow a sack, keeping Freeney completely in check.
The 6’9″, 335 pound senior worked extra hard in practice and in the film room to shut down the pass rusher he had heard such great things about. Freeney had been looking forward to taking on a topnotch tackle.
“This was the matchup everyone wanted to see,” McKinnie said. “[Offensive line coach Art Kehoe] is always talking about how two men enter and one man leaves. He gets all these sacks, I never gave up one, so something’s got to give.”
Not only was Freeney kept away from Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, but he didn’t even record a tackle.
“He’s a very good pass blocker,” Freeney said of McKinnie. “When you run as much play-action as they do, you have to honor that. That’s a problem. The best thing they do is run. His size and their pass protection make it real tough to get in on them.”
McKinnie made all of this happen without much assistance.
“We hardly chipped and helped him most of the game, and I think he was a little concerned about it,” Kehoe said. “He was wondering, ‘When am I going to get some help around here?'”
McKinnie has had a knack of containing great pass rushers in his UM career, shutting out Florida State’s Jamal Reynolds and Florida’s Alex Brown last season.
With his collegiate career coming to a close, McKinnie may go on to the NFL having never surrendered a sack.
“I know this about Bryant McKinnie – when you challenge him, I don’t need to worry about him,” Kehoe said. “He was studying film, working his butt off, and he’s been getting better every week.”
CAREER DAY FOR JOHNSON: Wide receiver Andre Johnson caught four balls for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns. On his second touchdown, Johnson spun away from and eluded three defenders to get into the end zone.
“When I caught the ball and I saw three of them, the first thing I thought was they we were going to try and kill me,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s nine TDs this season are most on the team and tie him for third all-time on UM’s single season record list.
PORTIS CLOSE TO 1,000: Clinton Portis rushed for 132 yards on 18 carries, moving him to only 29 yards shy of 1,000 this season.
After struggling with some inconsistency earlier in the year, Portis eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in his last five games and sixth overall.
“I think early in the season I was laid back, just breezing through games,” Portis said. “But I live for big games. We’ve got a number of big games left and hopefully I can do what I’ve been doing.”
Portis’ performance comes a week after he carried his team and carried the ball a career-high 36 times in Miami’s 18-7 win over Boston College. This week Frank Gore helped him out, rushing 11 times for 158 yards.
“That takes pressure off of you, knowing that you don’t have to carry the whole load,” Portis said.