The Canes came crashing down to earth.
For the first time in the Randy Shannon Era the Miami Hurricanes had a legit shot of taking full control of the Atlantic Coast Conference and propelling the U back to the top of the nation.
Instead, No. 11 Virginia Tech had other ideas wiping out No. 9 Miami, 31-7, and sent the Canes back to Coral Gables, FL in disbelief.
“They got ahead and we couldn’t block them in the running game,” Shannon said. “So when you get hit a couple of times it becomes feast for famine.”
With three other top 10 teams losing, the Canes could have guaranteed themselves in the top five of the rankings but the loss at Lane Stadium dropped the Canes eight spots in the Associated Press poll rankings as they’re now No. 17.
On the fifth snap for the Hurricanes, sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris fumbled during a blitz from Virginia Tech. This immediately gave the Hokies great field possession and momentum for the entire game.
VT capped off its drive with two-yard run by freshman Ryan Williams, who finished with 150 yards and two touchdowns. The Hokies totaled 272 yards on the ground.
“I told the players on the team, the last four out of five times that we’ve played Virginia Tech, whoever can stop the run and whoever doesn’t turn the football over, that’s usually who wins the game,” Shannon said.
The Hurricanes had several opportunities to capitalize on the Hokies miscues. Virginia Tech fumbled its first punt return but UM could not pounce on the ball. The Hokies scored and put Miami into a hole, 14-0.
“We just didn’t come out here and execute,” said Harris who finished 9-for-25 for 150 yards and one interception. “There was a lot of plays we wish we could have back. Their defense came out there, put a lot of pressure on me.”
The most critical miscue for the Hurricanes came in the second half when the Canes had the momentum after scoring on the opening drive and were on the verge of scoring again. Senior tight end Jimmy Graham had two crucial dropped passes, one that would have set up the Canes at the Hokies 10-yard line and would have resulted in a first down.
“Jimmy had two drops that were crucial,” Shannon said. “But those drops were crucial because we would have probably been seven points down, and you never know what you will do if you’re seven points down. He just didn’t make the catches.”
Still, the Hokies outplayed the Hurricanes in every phase of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. The Hurricanes defense couldn’t stop the Hokies when they needed to and the offense couldn’t move the ball for an entire half. Virginia Tech even picked up seven points off a blocked punt.
“As a football team we have to get better,” Shannon said. “We’ll watch the tape, make the corrections and see how we respond against Oklahoma. I think we will respond against Oklahoma. I this football team learned its lesson. They’re going to come back, grind and work hard.”
Despite the loss, UM will play No. 8 Oklahoma on Satuday in prime time. The top 20 showdown is at 8:00 p.m. on ABC at Land Shark Stadium. The game can also be heard on the student radio station at the University of Miami 90.5 FM WVUM.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at email@example.com.