Photo Credit: ACC Media
Virginia Tech entered today 0-5 against top 10 teams under Justin Fuente, but this felt like their best chance to finally break through which was validated by a 24-13, two-score lead midway through the third quarter. Instead, the Hokies took their foot off the gas on offense while Miami started breaking through Tech's defense and found a way to avoid a road loss.
Virginia Tech fell to #9 Miami 25-24 to drop to 4-4 on the season (4-3 ACC) while the Hurricanes improved to 7-1 with the victory.
Miami outgained Tech 386-367 and was the more consistent offense though the Hokies did have more plays as shown by the fact that they averaged 5.08 yards per play compared to 4.49 for Miami. Tech's defense played as well as they have in weeks, but Tech's offense got in their own way with some unnecessarily conservative playcalling, especially on a couple 3rd and mediums holding the Hokies back.
Tech had the only turnover on the day as well with a fourth quarter interception from Hendon Hooker proving costly for Tech's fourth quarter comeback efforts with Hooker saying the interceptin was rooted in a miscommunication between himself and Kaleb Smith.
However, Tech definitely positioned themselves well from a discipline perspective with only 2 penalties for 10 yards compared to 8 penalties for 77 yards for Miami.
Tech once again heavily leaned on Hendon Hooker who had 202 yards and 1 interception on 19-29 passing plus 59 net rushing yards on 21 carries. Hooker was solid overall, but not as good as he was last week which proved costly for the Hokies in this game.
Khalil Herbert returned this week, but was clearly limited with 8 carries for 49 yards and a 7-yard reception while Jalen Holston had a good game with 4 carries for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns plus 2 catches for 11 yards. Tre Turner led Tech's receivers with 5 catches for 86 yards while Tayvion Robinson had 5 catches for 42 yards and a 5-yard carry.
D'Eriq King was Miami's lead offensive star and outshined Hooker going 24-38 for 255 yards and a touchdown along with a rushing TD among 15 net rushing yards. Cam'Ron Harris had 63 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries while Dee Wiggins had 8 catches for 106 yards and and Mark Pope had 4 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
As a unit, Tech's defense was quite good with 6 sacks while also holding Miami under 4.5 yards per play including only 2.7 yards per carry. However, the Hurricanes hurt the Hokies with some long drives full of 4-5 yard gains that proved to be crucial in the end.
Dax Hollifield and Jarrod Hewitt both had arguably their best games of the year as Hollifield led the Hokies with 13 tackles including 2 assisted sacks and a pass breakup while Hewitt had 5 tackles including 2.5 sacks. Devin Taylor was busy as well with 11 tackles including 1 for loss plus a pass breakup while Rayshard Ashby also had 11 tackles.
Jaelen Phillips was dominant for Miami with 8 tackles including 3 solo tackles for loss and 3 assisted tackles for loss, finishing with 2.5 sacks among those 6 tackles for loss. Gilbert Frierson had 8 tackles including 2 for loss while Te'Cory Couch had the big interception.
This was a game that the Hokies were in absolute control of for the first three quarters but an over conservative offensive approach combined with a defense that was out there for 86 plays in total and wore down proved to be a hurdle too far. This was undoubtedly the best chance for the Hokies to get their first win against a top 10 opponent since 2014 (and first at home since 2009) but instead, Justin Fuente falls to 0-6 against top 10 teams at Virginia Tech.
We will have more as this story develops.