After the Storm: VT

After the Storm: VT

Stefan Adams
The Miami Hurricanes completed their second straight 4th quarter comeback, this time against the Virginia Tech Hokies, to earn a 25-24 road victory and move to 7-1 this weekend. After a rewatch of the game, here were my takeaways and grades.


**Three straight weeks, three straight close wins for the Canes. Going into the season, I had Virginia Tech in Blacksburg pegged as UM’s third most difficult game of the year, and VT has mostly been what we expected so far in 2020: a very good offense that can get hot quickly and cause problems, coupled with a poor defense that will always ensure the opposition is still in the game. So, I saw this as one of the best tests we’d see all year for a maturing Miami team that is still learning how to win. And, despite some hiccups, the Canes delivered yet again by making the plays they needed to complete the comeback.

It’s been back-to-back weeks now that UM has found themselves facing a double-digit deficit on the road to an above average ACC opponent, and they were guided to the win both times with strong efforts from emerging sources throughout the team. All this coming with the backdrop of a depleted roster as key starters and depth contributors were out with COVID-19. It’s been said a ton thus far, but this is usually the point of the year where Miami traditionally starts to unravel; instead, you’re seeing a team that is flawed, yes, but is coming together and finding ways to get the job done.


**Miami owned the 4th quarter yet again. In terms of the scoreboard, Miami only held a 6-0 advantage in the final stanza, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In addition to those points being the deciding touchdown of the contest, the defense also only allowed 54 yards in the 4th despite the Hokies having 5 possessions and running 25 plays. While it’s true that you would have liked to see the offense pick up at least one first down on their final two drives to help out the defense and whittle away the clock, it was the second straight week you saw players that are working to establish themselves as reliable key contributors have some of their best moments of the game when it mattered most: Mark Pope’s game-winning 36-yard catch and run TD, Te’Cory Couch’s interception, and Jaelan Phillips and Gilbert Frierson’s sacks, for example.

This all came a week after Miami dominated NC State in the 4th quarter to secure the win. Miami does need to do a better job of avoiding these types of situations to begin with by making more plays throughout the game, but it certainly builds your confidence to know more and more players aren’t afraid of the moment and can be relied on to close out games in the 4th. In that sense, it looks to me like this team is getting deeper with guys that can contribute impact plays, even if there isn’t necessarily a trove of elite players on the roster.


**Limiting turnovers was key in spurring UM’s victory. On last week’s podcast, we talked about how Miami’s 2019 matchup against VT was defined by turnovers and that Miami would have to avoid those pitfalls to beat the Hokies this time around. Although the Canes outgained the Hokies by over 200 yards in the 2019 game, they ultimately lost after killing themselves with 5 turnovers to VT’s 0. At least on the offensive side of the ball, the Canes completely reversed their fortunes in 2020, protecting the ball nicely and going turnover-free against the Hokies, while the defense earned one turnover and could have had a few others (Couch and BJ Jennings’ dropped INT’s come to mind). This, combined with the excellent punting of Lou Hedley, helped give the Canes an advantage in the field position battle, and also didn’t allow for VT’s offense to benefit from easy scoring opportunities like they were able to last year. It helped the Canes win this game, no doubt, but this has really been a theme for UM’s offense this season. Miami only has 6 offensive turnovers this year through 8 games, with the Canes earning a goose egg in TO’s in 5 of those contests. It’s a football cliché because it’s true: the team that protects the ball better gives themselves a better chance at winning the game, and it’s an area where D’Eriq King and the rest of the offense has excelled in thus far this year.


**D’Eriq King had another solid effort. While it wasn’t anything like what he did vs. NC State last week, King did have a productive outing against VT, finishing 24-38 (63.2%) for 255 passing yards, a TD, and no turnovers, while also contributing 15 rushing yards and a TD on the ground. Those numbers look even better when you consider King was under fire all game and got basically no help from his OL, getting sacked 6 times while also suffering numerous drops from his receivers (Dee Wiggins could still be running on that deep slant drop in the second quarter). Add it all up, and you have another solid performance from the Canes’ QB, which also included the 4th quarter dart to Pope in stride for the game-winner. There’s a reason King currently is tied for the 6th best Heisman odds according to Vegas Insider, and it’s been an even more impressive season considering the turmoil around him at times at key positions.


**Miami hopes to have found something on defense. After the defense got their doors blown off vs. NC State last week, there was a lot of talk, including from myself, questioning whether the defense had lost a step compared to previous years, and deservedly so. Instead of letting the game vs. the Wolfpack send them spiraling against an arguably even better offense in VT this week, UM’s defense used the negativity to make a statement in holding the nation’s #4 rushing attack to 130 yards under their season average. The nation’s fourth leading rusher in RB Khalil Herbert had his lowest output of the season (49 yards) against Miami, while the nation’s leading rusher among QB’s in Hendon Hooker had his second worst day on the ground (59 yards) in 2020. Miami went into the game with the clear goal to slow down VT’s run game and make Hooker beat them through the air, and it was mostly mission accomplished from Blake Baker’s unit.

The Canes defense also shut out a strong Hokies offense over the final 21 minutes, as well as on the last three drives of the game while protecting a 1-point lead when the team needed it most. This total team defensive effort was highlighted by the continued emergence of three players, including Gilbert Frierson (2 sacks), Jaelan Phillips (4.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks), and Te’Cory Couch (INT, 0.5 sacks). At least for one week, the Canes’ defense really brought it and earned a little bit of redemption.


**Te’Cory Couch is Miami’s best cornerback right now. I have been wanting to talk about Couch in this space for a few weeks now, but wanting to keep a stricter word count always had me prioritizing bigger topics. This week, the sophomore from Chaminade forced my hand by making a big interception in a major moment during his first career start, but those that have a keen eye have noticed #23 popping up consistently in smaller ways this year despite not starting a game through the first 7.

It started with Couch not giving an inch in coverage in his limited time on the field during the first half of the year; whenever he was tested, you would see the receiver getting smothered and the ball falling harmlessly to the turf. From there, he slowly earned more playing time, and it was amplified when Couch broke up three passes vs. Pitt, showing that he could also make plays on the ball, and then vs. NC State when he recorded a sack on a corner blitz, the first QB takedown for any Miami corner this season. It culminated this week when Couch got his first career start vs. VT, then made arguably the biggest play of the game to nab his first career INT with Miami trying to hold onto a 1-point lead late in the fourth quarter; Couch also added a half sack in the game. Despite questions about his height/weight, Couch has been able to overcome that by playing tougher than his size, having an aggressive mentality, and using his great length to really bother receivers. There’s no doubt he is playing like UM’s best CB currently, which represents a massive jump for the second-year player.


Grades

Offense: C+


25 points scored and 386 total yards. A solid effort, but expected more against one of the worst defenses in the country. 6 three and outs. 86 plays run for 4.5 ypp. Converted 6-17 (35.3%) on third downs. 0 giveaways, and the ability to prevent turnovers continues to be a major highlight. Perfect (5-5) in the red zone for a second straight week. OL struggled badly in allowing 8 TFL and 6 sacks.

Defense: B+

24 points and 362 yards allowed. Held the nation’s #4 rushing attack 130+ yards under their season average. Finally turned up the havoc with 6 sacks and 11 TFL. 1 turnover, and missed opportunities for a few more. Allowed 7 for 16 (43.8%) on third downs. 5.1 ypp allowed. Held strong on the Hokies’ final three drives protecting a 1-point lead.

Special Teams: A-

Jose Borregales kept his incredible season going, nailing both of his FG attempts and his lone XP. Lou Hedley recorded the best game of his impressive career thus far, recording a career-high 52.4 ypp average on 7 punts. Another game, another muffed punt for UM that nearly could have been a turnover, and no impact returns. Coverage unit gave up a decent PR, but was mostly solid on the day. Botched a fake FG that had no chance of converting.

Coaching: B

Continue to find ways to win despite key starters and depth contributors sitting out with COVID. Another game where the team showed resilience and made all the plays they had to late. Would have liked to see a better gameplan/execution on offense. Loved the gameplan/execution on defense. The fake FG seemed like an unnecessary gamble on the first drive of the game and with one of the best kickers in the nation at your disposal. Another undisciplined game in terms of penalties (8 for 77 yards), and UM is now 114th of 126 FBS teams in penalties per game.
 

Comments (17)

The Miami Hurricanes completed their second straight 4th quarter comeback, this time against the Virginia Tech Hokies, to earn a 25-24 road victory and move to 7-1 this weekend. After a rewatch of the game, here were my takeaways and grades.


**Three straight weeks, three straight close wins for the Canes. Going into the season, I had Virginia Tech in Blacksburg pegged as UM’s third most difficult game of the year, and VT has mostly been what we expected so far in 2020: a very good offense that can get hot quickly and cause problems, coupled with a poor defense that will always ensure the opposition is still in the game. So, I saw this as one of the best tests we’d see all year for a maturing Miami team that is still learning how to win. And, despite some hiccups, the Canes delivered yet again by making the plays they needed to complete the comeback.

It’s been back-to-back weeks now that UM has found themselves facing a double-digit deficit on the road to an above average ACC opponent, and they were guided to the win both times with strong efforts from emerging sources throughout the team. All this coming with the backdrop of a depleted roster as key starters and depth contributors were out with COVID-19. It’s been said a ton thus far, but this is usually the point of the year where Miami traditionally starts to unravel; instead, you’re seeing a team that is flawed, yes, but is coming together and finding ways to get the job done.


**Miami owned the 4th quarter yet again. In terms of the scoreboard, Miami only held a 6-0 advantage in the final stanza, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In addition to those points being the deciding touchdown of the contest, the defense also only allowed 54 yards in the 4th despite the Hokies having 5 possessions and running 25 plays. While it’s true that you would have liked to see the offense pick up at least one first down on their final two drives to help out the defense and whittle away the clock, it was the second straight week you saw players that are working to establish themselves as reliable key contributors have some of their best moments of the game when it mattered most: Mark Pope’s game-winning 36-yard catch and run TD, Te’Cory Couch’s interception, and Jaelan Phillips and Gilbert Frierson’s sacks, for example.

This all came a week after Miami dominated NC State in the 4th quarter to secure the win. Miami does need to do a better job of avoiding these types of situations to begin with by making more plays throughout the game, but it certainly builds your confidence to know more and more players aren’t afraid of the moment and can be relied on to close out games in the 4th. In that sense, it looks to me like this team is getting deeper with guys that can contribute impact plays, even if there isn’t necessarily a trove of elite players on the roster.


**Limiting turnovers was key in spurring UM’s victory. On last week’s podcast, we talked about how Miami’s 2019 matchup against VT was defined by turnovers and that Miami would have to avoid those pitfalls to beat the Hokies this time around. Although the Canes outgained the Hokies by over 200 yards in the 2019 game, they ultimately lost after killing themselves with 5 turnovers to VT’s 0. At least on the offensive side of the ball, the Canes completely reversed their fortunes in 2020, protecting the ball nicely and going turnover-free against the Hokies, while the defense earned one turnover and could have had a few others (Couch and BJ Jennings’ dropped INT’s come to mind). This, combined with the excellent punting of Lou Hedley, helped give the Canes an advantage in the field position battle, and also didn’t allow for VT’s offense to benefit from easy scoring opportunities like they were able to last year. It helped the Canes win this game, no doubt, but this has really been a theme for UM’s offense this season. Miami only has 6 offensive turnovers this year through 8 games, with the Canes earning a goose egg in TO’s in 5 of those contests. It’s a football cliché because it’s true: the team that protects the ball better gives themselves a better chance at winning the game, and it’s an area where D’Eriq King and the rest of the offense has excelled in thus far this year.


**D’Eriq King had another solid effort. While it wasn’t anything like what he did vs. NC State last week, King did have a productive outing against VT, finishing 24-38 (63.2%) for 255 passing yards, a TD, and no turnovers, while also contributing 15 rushing yards and a TD on the ground. Those numbers look even better when you consider King was under fire all game and got basically no help from his OL, getting sacked 6 times while also suffering numerous drops from his receivers (Dee Wiggins could still be running on that deep slant drop in the second quarter). Add it all up, and you have another solid performance from the Canes’ QB, which also included the 4th quarter dart to Pope in stride for the game-winner. There’s a reason King currently is tied for the 6th best Heisman odds according to Vegas Insider, and it’s been an even more impressive season considering the turmoil around him at times at key positions.


**Miami hopes to have found something on defense. After the defense got their doors blown off vs. NC State last week, there was a lot of talk, including from myself, questioning whether the defense had lost a step compared to previous years, and deservedly so. Instead of letting the game vs. the Wolfpack send them spiraling against an arguably even better offense in VT this week, UM’s defense used the negativity to make a statement in holding the nation’s #4 rushing attack to 130 yards under their season average. The nation’s fourth leading rusher in RB Khalil Herbert had his lowest output of the season (49 yards) against Miami, while the nation’s leading rusher among QB’s in Hendon Hooker had his second worst day on the ground (59 yards) in 2020. Miami went into the game with the clear goal to slow down VT’s run game and make Hooker beat them through the air, and it was mostly mission accomplished from Blake Baker’s unit.

The Canes defense also shut out a strong Hokies offense over the final 21 minutes, as well as on the last three drives of the game while protecting a 1-point lead when the team needed it most. This total team defensive effort was highlighted by the continued emergence of three players, including Gilbert Frierson (2 sacks), Jaelan Phillips (4.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks), and Te’Cory Couch (INT, 0.5 sacks). At least for one week, the Canes’ defense really brought it and earned a little bit of redemption.


**Te’Cory Couch is Miami’s best cornerback right now. I have been wanting to talk about Couch in this space for a few weeks now, but wanting to keep a stricter word count always had me prioritizing bigger topics. This week, the sophomore from Chaminade forced my hand by making a big interception in a major moment during his first career start, but those that have a keen eye have noticed #23 popping up consistently in smaller ways this year despite not starting a game through the first 7.

It started with Couch not giving an inch in coverage in his limited time on the field during the first half of the year; whenever he was tested, you would see the receiver getting smothered and the ball falling harmlessly to the turf. From there, he slowly earned more playing time, and it was amplified when Couch broke up three passes vs. Pitt, showing that he could also make plays on the ball, and then vs. NC State when he recorded a sack on a corner blitz, the first QB takedown for any Miami corner this season. It culminated this week when Couch got his first career start vs. VT, then made arguably the biggest play of the game to nab his first career INT with Miami trying to hold onto a 1-point lead late in the fourth quarter; Couch also added a half sack in the game. Despite questions about his height/weight, Couch has been able to overcome that by playing tougher than his size, having an aggressive mentality, and using his great length to really bother receivers. There’s no doubt he is playing like UM’s best CB currently, which represents a massive jump for the second-year player.


Grades

Offense: C+

25 points scored and 386 total yards. A solid effort, but expected more against one of the worst defenses in the country. 6 three and outs. 86 plays run for 4.5 ypp. Converted 6-17 (35.3%) on third downs. 0 giveaways, and the ability to prevent turnovers continues to be a major highlight. Perfect (5-5) in the red zone for a second straight week. OL struggled badly in allowing 8 TFL and 6 sacks.

Defense: B+

24 points and 362 yards allowed. Held the nation’s #4 rushing attack 130+ yards under their season average. Finally turned up the havoc with 6 sacks and 11 TFL. 1 turnover, and missed opportunities for a few more. Allowed 7 for 16 (43.8%) on third downs. 5.1 ypp allowed. Held strong on the Hokies’ final three drives protecting a 1-point lead.

Special Teams: A-

Jose Borregales kept his incredible season going, nailing both of his FG attempts and his lone XP. Lou Hedley recorded the best game of his impressive career thus far, recording a career-high 52.4 ypp average on 7 punts. Another game, another muffed punt for UM that nearly could have been a turnover, and no impact returns. Coverage unit gave up a decent PR, but was mostly solid on the day. Botched a fake FG that had no chance of converting.

Coaching: B

Continue to find ways to win despite key starters and depth contributors sitting out with COVID. Another game where the team showed resilience and made all the plays they had to late. Would have liked to see a better gameplan/execution on offense. Loved the gameplan/execution on defense. The fake FG seemed like an unnecessary gamble on the first drive of the game and with one of the best kickers in the nation at your disposal. Another undisciplined game in terms of penalties (8 for 77 yards), and UM is now 114th of 126 FBS teams in penalties per game.

I think it's worth re-emphasizing how much better Miami is this year with not turning the ball over. I know it's not the sexiest stat, but it is a sign that the program is headed in the right direction. The Canes are limiting the number of extra possessions they give opponents and avoiding giving them a short field. It's an important step.

The team now has to stop making bonehead mistakes like personal fouls, but there is an element to the amount of penalties they can't control - refs are really screwing us this year.
 
I was at the VT game last year. This team is so much more in synch and together in so many facets its like night and day. That game was the first time we saw that toxic QB room ooze all over the rest of the team.

By TO number 2 or 3 I remember commenting on here there was a weird disconnect going on. There was no enthusiasm on the sidelines by either side of the ball and a lot of sulking.
 
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Im going to be that guy....the refs were calling some BS calls and those announcers were insufferable....

The W made it all the better.
The W made it all the better.

Yes.
It.
Did.

I was looking for VT's #25 after the game to see if he was still doing that goofy dance.
Couldn't seem to find him.
 
Couch proves you need to recruit to play makers, in lieu of recruiting to measurables : Don't care if the corner is 5'10" or 6'1" does he make plays ?
 
Couch proves you need to recruit to play makers, in lieu of recruiting to measurables : Don't care if the corner is 5'10" or 6'1" does he make plays ?

Agreed. But they all can't be 5'10 when in cleats. See Trajan Bandy.
 
Hope Couch keeps ballin. We definitely going to need him against unc and we as both teams have dam good WRs.
 
Great write-up. Agree with everything, especially the fact this team seems to be gaining confidence and strength late in the season when we normally fall apart. Couch emerging helps fill one of our worst holes on the team. Silvera and Ford getting push up the middle is another development that we were waiting for and is finally coming together. Now if we couldn't just find a reliable LB...

Is it true that our starting 5 OL didn't rotate out the whole game due to Covid depletions? If so, I give them somewhat of a break. Scaife though, smh.
 
I think it's worth re-emphasizing how much better Miami is this year with not turning the ball over. I know it's not the sexiest stat, but it is a sign that the program is headed in the right direction. The Canes are limiting the number of extra possessions they give opponents and avoiding giving them a short field. It's an important step.

The team now has to stop making bonehead mistakes like personal fouls, but there is an element to the amount of penalties they can't control - refs are really screwing us this year.
What’s the turnover ratio?
 
Im going to be that guy....the refs were calling some BS calls and those announcers were insufferable....

The W made it all the better.
I muted the telecast immediately when I heard that color commentator.
 
So the defense went against a good offense did good and the offense went against a bad defense and didn't do as well.
Yet everyone keeps complaining about the defensive coaching around here.
ROFL!
 
It's Great seejng all the respect couch is getting, his hardwork and no quit in em attitude is paying off, question, does anybody in here happen to know who his db coach is, or does couch have a different db coach, and how did couch get that pick, a rumor has been going around for quite sometime now that our db's don't look back for the ball, did couch get the first NO-LOOK pick, somebody help me out with these questions, I HAVE A NEEDS TO KNOW!
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
WR
5'9"
190
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne Senior, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

by whoopingcane
Certain
by Andrew
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by under67ty
Medium
by whoopingcane
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09/10 vs
UAB
Win 31 - 14
09/19 @
LOU
Win 47 - 34
09/26 vs
FSU
Win 52 - 10
10/10 @
CLEM
Loss 42 - 17
10/17 vs
PITT
Win 31 - 19
10/24 vs
UVA
Win 19 - 14
11/06 @
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Win 44 - 41
11/14 @
VT
Win 25 - 24
12/05 @
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