Complete analysis of the VT game

The Hurricanes made a big statement Thursday night with a 24-point win at Virginia Tech. Read on for complete game analysis from CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* The Hurricanes flat out came to play tonight. They seemed to play with lots of energy and the bye week seemed to come at just the right time. They started fast, made some big plays on defense on the second half, and never were threatened by the Hokies. It was as good a performance that we've seen from a Hurricane team since Al Golden took over back in 2011. That is very encouraging.

* You could tell Miami's gameplan was to run Duke Johnson as much as possible. That makes sense, especially when you're playing on the road against a solid team without your primary backup and with a true freshman quarterback. As expected, Johnson delivered with a huge performance. I did not like the fact that he was still running the ball late in the game when Miami was up 24 points with under 10 minutes to go. Lets really hope his ankle injury turns out to be a minor one. If he's forced to miss time or is bothered by it down the stretch, Al Golden will likely take a lot of heat for that decision.

* With the emphasis on the running game, Brad Kaaya wasn't expected to do a whole lot. He played game manager and did it well. He made a lot of high percentage throws and took care of the football. He didn't force it, didn't take sacks, and didn't turn the ball over. Sure he threw for under 100 yards but he only threw it 16 times and he came close to connecting with Phillip Dorsett on what could have ended up being a 98-yard touchdown strike. His maturity continues this season and it's performances like this one that will give Miami's coaches more and more confidence in him down the stretch.

* Johnson was outstanding. There's no other way to put it. That was as good as he's ever been as a Hurricane but it's also what we've come to expect from him. If he stays healthy he's most likely in his final stretch of games as a Hurricane so lets enjoy it. With his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, he's as good as any running back in college football right now. If the Canes give him this much attention, beating teams like North Carolina, Virginia, and Pittsburgh down the stretch will become a lot easier for Miami.

* With Joseph Yearby out with injury, it was nice to see Gus Edwards turn in a solid performance. We hadn't been seeing that lately and Trayone Gray -- despite not being quite ready -- was close to passing him on the depth chart. Gus responded to the challenge in a big way tonight.

* As good as Johnson was tonight, lets give a lot of credit to Miami's offense line. It was outstanding tonight. It protected Kaaya really well and opened up gaping holes for both running backs. Art Kehoe's unit thoroughly dominated the Hokie defensive front tonight and that's while playing a true freshman at left guard and a right tackle who typically plays guard. Again, they were outstanding.

* Defensively, Mark D'Onofrio deserves some credit simply because he's been taking a lot of heat lately. Virginia Tech's skill level on offense is way down compared to normal years but Coach D and his staff did a solid job and Miami's players did an excellent job of executing the gameplan. 262 yards, six points on a garbage touchdown late, 3-of-12 on third downs, a few sacks, and three legitimately caused turnovers is a solid effort against any ACC opponent.

* Denzel Perryman's strong senior season continued. He was all over the field making plays and he caused another turnover in this game. He's been excellent in the middle for the Canes all season and Miami will need his strong play and leadership down the stretch to continue if they want to have any chance of winning the league.

* Speaking of linebackers, Jermaine Grace continues getting better and better as the season goes on. He's clearly become the team's top backup at the linebacker spot. He is a three-down player at the position and seems on the verge of becoming a starter. His snaps increase each week and he continues playing at a high level. He seems to have a very bright future here.

* Justin Vogel's strong senior season continues as well. He's been dynamite while trying to replace Pat O'Donnell this season. On the flip side, Miami's kick coverage unit continues to struggle. That's something they had an extra week to shore up and it didn't seem to happen. It'd be nice if they can get that under control before North Carolina comes into town.

* Bring on the Tar Heels!

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