NCF Nation: Miami 0812

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami quarterback Robert Marve wasn't bothered by the quick three-and-out with about three minutes left against Virginia Tech and a precarious 16-14 lead.

Instead, Marve said he felt rather "comfortable" about it.

 Joel Auerbach/US Presswire
 The Miami defense spent much of Thursday's game in the Virginia Tech backfield.

Credit the defense for calming his nerves. Virginia Tech wasn't going anywhere.

"I felt like they had that one drive, they scored a touchdown, but besides that, I think they went more backwards than they did forwards," Marve said.

Indeed, on fourth-and-3, the Hokies' final shot on offense, defensive end Allen Bailey surged into their backfield, wrapped up quarterback Tyrod Taylor and threw him down for a loss of seven yards with 1:56 remaining. The play was just one of a season-high six sacks and punctuated a dominant night for Miami's defensive line, as they were able to control one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league.

"We worked on it this off-week," said Miami coach Randy Shannon. "We did some things in practice we needed to work on, just getting the defensive linemen to understand about run-pass. We were always good on third down -- we could get up the field and do those things -- but recognizing run-pass situations, we worked on that for two weeks and I think it really helped us out this week."

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Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami senior offensive tackle Reggie Youngblood shook his head and let out a sigh. It was the only thing he could come up with since he was at an utter loss for words to describe just how much the Canes' 16-14 win over Virginia Tech meant to the seniors.

"You can't, you really can't," he said. "It's just something you've got to experience. I believe everything happens for a reason and now everything seems to be paying off."

 Joel Auerbach/US Presswire
 Robert Marve and the Canes won their fifth straight game.

So much attention has been paid to this year's freshman class -- and deservedly so -- but they weren't on the field for last year's embarrassing senior sendoff at the historic Orange Bowl. The 48-0 loss to Virginia in front of so many former Miami greats punctuated a miserable season in which the Canes won only two league games and were denied a bowl bid for the first time in a decade.

This season's home finale, though, was different.

This team is different.

This time, in front of a crowd that included former Hurricanes Jim Kelly, Cortez Kennedy, Jim Otto and Gino Torretta, the bowl-eligible Hurricanes knocked off the defending ACC champions and won their fifth straight game. This is the same team that was predicted by the media to finish fifth in the Coastal Division and appeared headed in that direction with its 0-2 start in the conference. Now, for at least 48 more hours, the Hurricanes can enjoy sole possession of first place by a half game over North Carolina.

"It feels real good," Youngblood said, "especially after last year's senior night, how those seniors went out."

Miami coach Randy Shannon hesitated to call it a statement win, but acknowledged the significance of it.

"I think it's a big win for us because it's our last regular-season game playing in Dolphin Stadium, and I think for these seniors and this football team that was tremendous because we have a lot of seniors on this football team who have been through a lot," Shannon said. "For us to come out and win this football game the way we did and played hard for the senior class was tremendous for us."

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Final: Miami 16, Virginia Tech 14

November, 13, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami's defense was the difference in this game. For the most part, the athletes the Hurricanes have on defense took away what Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor can do. With the exception of the Hokies' final scoring drive, his feet couldn't match the Canes' speed.

This doesn't mean Virginia Tech is completely out of it, but it means North Carolina is even more in it. The roles will reverse this weekend. North Carolina needed Virginia Tech to lose, and probably watched this game with heightened interest. Now, Miami needs the Tar Heels to lose, and will watch their game Saturday at Maryland like it's the No. 1 box office hit.

Miami's defense stifled Virginia Tech's already struggling offense. With 11:49 remaining in the game, the Hurricanes had held Darren Evans to three rushes for 3 yards. The Hokies had minus-11 yards in the third quarter. This really shows how far Bill Young's defense has come as the season progressed. Unfortunately, Young and Patrick Nix are off-limits to the media.

I'm heading down to the locker room now to talk to everyone else.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami's defense is getting into Virginia Tech's backfield and the Hokies are looking more and more like they got a gift from Maryland last week instead of a groundbreaking performance. That said, Miami hasn't exactly been able to seal the deal inside the red zone tonight and twice has settled for field goals. Credit the Hokies' pass defense for that.

Miami's defense is creating a short field, and field position is likely to be a factor again in the fourth quarter.

Of all the quarterbacks we've seen tonight, though, Miami's Robert Marve has looked the best. That's not to say Marve is a better quarterback than Jacory Harris, just that he is tonight. Considering their youth, inconsistency should be expected from them this season.

The fact that Marve has had enough time and protection to make plays has been impressive, considering the Canes are without their top offensive lineman. He has also been able to create plays with his feet when they're not always there. Now it's time for the young receivers to step up and help him out. Graig Cooper is certainly doing his part tonight.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- It's like a quarterback audition here in Dolphin Stadium. We've seen five total so far, if you count tight end Greg Boone.

The Hokies have officially reverted to their 2007 dual-quarterback system -- the same one they won the ACC title with but lost the Orange Bowl here with. Tailback Darren Evans is not having the same luck he did last week against Maryland, but is catching the ball well out of the backfield. One of the differences in this game has been Virginia Tech's ability to catch the ball, regardless of who is throwing it to them.

Miami had no reason to switch quarterbacks, as starter Robert Marve was moving the offense. The switch to Jacory Harris halted the Canes' offensive momentum, and they went backwards instead of downfield. Part of that might also be attributed to the fact that the Hurricanes are now down to their backups at both offensive tackle positions. Still, Miami needs to get back to what was working in the second half, and that was Marve. He came back in with 37 seconds remaining in the half.

Both teams need to be wary of each other's kick returners in the second half, because somebody seems on the brink of running one back.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Virginia Tech has used all three quarterbacks (well, two and their tight end), but Miami has only needed one. Robert Marve, save for his one fumble that didn't cost the Canes, hasn't made many mistakes and has gotten his team out of jams with his ability to escape and has thrown the ball away instead of costing his team yards.

The Canes are giving the Hokies a dose of their own medicine here in Dolphin Stadium, and if Miami's receivers would be able to hold onto the ball, the offense would be twice as effective. Marve is giving them catchable balls and Patrick Nix isn't afraid to throw it downfield.

Virginia Tech used Sean Glennon, Tyrod Taylor and tight end Greg Boone on their final possession and it hasn't flustered Miami. This is one of those times when it can't hurt to have a former defensive coordinator as your head coach.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The last time I was here, Virginia Tech was here. And the last time Virginia Tech was here, it lost.

(Pure coincidence, promise.)

No doubt the Hokies are going to do everything they can to avoid the same outcome, and their odds got marginally better with the news that left tackle Jason Fox is definitely out. His backup, Reggie Youngblood, is a player coach Randy Shannon once thought would miss the rest of the season with various injuries.

But ... it's senior night. Miami can't afford to lose. And there is an excitement buzzing around this stadium that indicates Miami is finally in a game that means something. Oh, it's a high-stakes game for the Hokies, too, but the ACC title has fit them like an old comfy sweatshirt since they joined the league.

Miami is still shopping for that title.

Here are three things the Canes need to do tonight to get one step closer to Tampa:

Stop the Hokies' running game. If you make Virginia Tech one-dimensional, you win.

Get "Coop and JJ" at least 25 combined carries (and then block for them). During their careers at Miami, when Javarris James and Graig Cooper combine for at least 25 carries in a game, the Canes are 6-2. When they don't, Miami is 2-6. That has only happened once this season -- at Virginia.

Protect the quarterbacks. Robert Marve can't get rattled in this one. Miami can't afford to turn the ball over against this talented, much-improved defense. If they do, they turn over their chances at the title, too.

The scout count tonight is 10, and there are bowl reps here from the Gator Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl.