A Game of Two Halves
October 15, 2022
The Miami Hurricanes traveled to Blacksburg on Saturday to take on an equally struggling Virginia Tech team and came away with a hard fought victory, 20-14, to break their three game losing streak.
As it turned out, the contest became a game of two halves.
“We came out with conviction”, said head coach Mario Cristobal. “Our practice and preparation showed up. Everything showed up well early on. The second half we started with penalties. The defense held up strong. We managed to get a field goal, but we allowed some pressure on a play when we had a wide open route versus man that could have put the game at 24-0. We settled for a field goal and then they started making their plays. They put together some drives and we aided them with penalties.”
Miami got out to a fast start, dominating the Hokies with seventeen unanswered points to lead 17-0 at half time. With 302 total yards of offense and a defense that severely limiting Virginia Tech’s offense to 106 yards, everything was going Miami’s way entering the second half. However, injuries continued to mount up and the game momentum shifted to the Hokies in the second half.
The Canes came into the game without three starting offensive linemen, their leading receiver and their starting running back. As the game progress, more injuries occurred. Tight end Will Mallory, who was off to a great start with three catches for 62 yards when he was targeted in the head. Wide receiver Brashard Smith (Restrepo’s replacement) then went down. Miami’s discipline and preparation showed up and the “next man up” mentality carried the team through.
Tyler Van Dyke stepped up. While he finished with 351 yards passing, going 29/46, two touchdowns and no interceptions, it was his gutsy leadership in the second half when the wheels were falling off that showed his true value.
"He's playing at a really high level," said Cristobal. "His preparation has gone to another level and it carries over, it affects other people. He's playing without three starting offensive linemen, three starting wide receivers, his top two tight ends went down and he's still going.”
Others stepped up.
Transfer wide receivers Colbie Young and Frank Ladson made critical plays down the stretch. Young finished with 9 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown and Ladson contributed 5 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. Before his injury, Brashard Smith had 6 catches for 76 yards.
But as the injuries mounted up, so did the penalties. Miami racked up 17 penalties for 159 yards, often killing offensive drives in the second half. It was the most penalties in a game since 2015. Miami entered the game leading the ACC with the fewest penalty yards. Injuries played a big part in Miami’s penalty issue.
“For the first time on the road, we did not handle the environment very well,’ said Cristobal. “I think all the moving parts, we have to do a better job of operating and getting them on the same wave length. A number of them was when the ball was supposed to be snapped and it wasn’t. A couple other ones were aggressive penalties and a couple other ones were flat out not smart.”
“When you play a conference game, you are never out of it until the clock says zero and we need to understand that. That team did a great job of finding ways to move the ball. They went down the field twice and scored. We have to do a better job of taking the air out of the ball. Great job by our offense finishing the game. We got a first down and I am proud of our guys.”
Miami comes home to Hard Rock next Saturday to host a vastly improved Duke team. The Canes critically need to get healthy. And they need our fans there to make a difference.
“It is conference play. We have put ourselves in a position to accomplish our goals this year. We have to keep getting better. Us getting better revolves around us playing well at home. We need to see our people there.”
“We came out, especially in the first half, with conviction, with confidence. Had to close it out there in the end and made it interesting when we didn’t need to. But, all in all, considering the amount of guys on offense that were down, we found a way to win.”
Miami (3-3, 1-1 ACC) hosts Duke (4-3, 1-2 ACC) at Hard Rock Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m ET.