Miami: News & Notes (10/25)

The offense wasn't pretty, but Miami got big plays out of its special teams and a super effort on defense to come up with what coach Al Golden said was its best all-around game of the season in the 24-7 victory over Georgia Tech.

The Hurricanes, who were giving up 187 yards a game to opposing rushers coming into the game, held Tech's vaunted running game to just 134 yards on the ground.
The Yellow Jackets, who had crushed seven previous opponents with a ground attack that was averaging nearly 348 yards a game, averaged 2.8 yards a pop, less than half their 6.3 average for the year.
"The guys were awesome today," Golden said after his team improved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. "They executed, kept their poise, and did not allow the big one.
"Sean Spence did a great job at middle linebacker. Vaughn Telemaque and Tyrone Cornelius did a great job. Kelvin Cain got some playing time, and Denzel Perryman did a great job.
"The defensive ends did a great job. Against this offense the ends can get up the field too fast and get trapped or the quarterback ducks them. They had great discipline, especially Olivier Vernon, who was getting his first playing time this season."
Miami's offense, meanwhile, made judicious use of its meager 262 yards in total offense. Safety JoJo Nicholas' interception on Tech's first play from scrimmage left the Hurricanes with only 46 yards to negotiate for their first touchdown.
They got their third touchdown on another 46-yard march set up by Travis Benjamin's long kickoff return.
In between, Nicholas recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Jake Wieclaw's field goal ended the scoring.
The game was the first of three in a row at home for the Hurricanes, who have a quick-turnaround with a Thursday night affair against Virginia coming up.
A game against Duke ends the homestand.

--A key point in Miami's win came after Georgia Tech had marched 92 yards on 20 plays to close to within 14-7 with only 1:02 left before halftime. Coach Al Golden said he was willing to let the Hurricanes run out the clock until Travis Benjamin returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to Tech's 46-yard line. Golden then switched his thinking and QB Jacory Harris completed a 32-yard pass to WR Tommy Streeter on first down. Then after an incompletion, RB Lamar Miller rushed 14 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 cushion for the Hurricanes.
--The Hurricanes now have outscored Georgia Tech 92-34 in the last three meetings combined, all Hurricane victories. Tech had won four in a row in the series until Miami started its winning streak with a 33-17 win in 2009. The two teams are both in the ACC's Coastal Division and play each other every year.
--Coach Al Golden had criticized his team for all the penalties it was piling up in earlier games, calling some of the violations "selfish penalties" after the loss at Virginia Tech. He had no complaints after the win over Georgia Tech when the Hurricanes were penalized only once for just five yards on a substitution infraction during the first-quarter touchdown drive.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Olivier Vernon -- The junior made his return from a six-game suspension for his part in the booster scandal that was revealed in August and was credited with one solo tackle. He could be a key factor over the second half of the season as Miami has to contend with injuries.

LOOKING GOOD: Miami's defense not only bottled up Tech's running game, holding the Yellow Jackets to just 134 yards rushing, it also kept Tech's passing game in check. The Hurricanes had one interception (S JoJo Nicholas) and surrendered only 77 yards through the air to Tech's big-play passing game.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The offense didn't make many mistakes and struck for some big plays, especially passes to WR Tommy Streeter. But the Hurricanes don't have a good enough defense to make 262 yards stand up for many victories. QB Jacory Harris was only 8-of-23 passing for just 140 yards.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was great. I missed all the fans. I missed 'In the Air Tonight' -- that song, I forget who sings that song, but I missed that song when we warm up. I just missed it all, the whole adrenaline pumping. I loved it." -- Junior DE Olivier Vernon, referring to the Phil Collins song played over loudspeakers during pregame warmups at home, on getting back from his six-game suspension.

--Senior QB Jacory Harris threw his first interception in nearly 18 quarters, but it was hard to put all the blame on him. His attempt in the fourth quarter bounced off FB John Calhoun's face mask and in the hands to Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu, ending Harris' streak of consecutive passes without a pick at 108.
--Sophomore RB Lamar Miller came up just a bit short in his attempt to get back over the 100-yard mark rushing. He had 11 yards in losses to knock his gross total of 104 down to a net 93 on 27 carries. He had been in triple digits in each of Miami's first five games.
--Senior LB Sean Spence led the defensive effort with 10 tackles after moving to his customary outside spot to the middle. That allowed Spence to make better use of his speed against Tech's option game.

--Senior DT Micanor Regis was suspended against Georgia Tech for his actions against North Carolina the previous week. Coach Al Golden said he learned of Regis' actions -- it was learned Regis had hit North Carolina WR Dwight Jones in the groin -- on a Wednesday morning and suspended Regis after interviewing him and his coaches. Regis will be reinstated for the Virginia game but is on "zero tolerance."
--Freshman RT Jon Feliciano was injured during a post-touchdown celebration against Georgia Tech and "it doesn't look good" for him to play against Virginia.
--Redshirt freshman Malcolm Bunche and sophomore Seantrel Henderson will compete for Feliciano's starting spot on the right side of the line.
--Junior LT Brandon Washington was under some criticism for his play coming out of the North Carolina game but had his best game of the season against Georgia Tech, according to Golden. Washington will start against Virginia backed up by sophomore Jermaine Johnson.
--Freshman DT Olsen Pierre saw his most extensive playing time of the season and recorded two tackles against Georgia Tech.
--Sophomore P Dalton Botts won his job back after PK Jake Wieclaw handed the duty the previous week and had an outstanding game. Botts averaged 46.5 yards on four kicks with two downed inside Tech's 20-yard line.

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