Although they surrendered 407 yards total offense to Virginia in the season finale, the Hurricanes played consistent defense throughout the season. Young players like true freshman FS Kenny Phillips and CB Randy Phillips joined veterans like SS Brandon Meriweather and CBs Kelly Jennings and Marcus Maxey to bolster the secondary, probably the biggest question entering the season. Injuries put several players in the mix in the front seven, but others stepped and no noticeable dropoff was evident in the quality of play. Senior Rocky McIntosh anchored the linebackers.
The Hurricanes showed improvement in their running game but the loss of TB Tyrone Moss (knee) in the Virginia Tech game hurts the depth. Sophomore Charlie Jones has played well in Moss' absence, but redshirt freshman Derron Thomas and sophomore Andrew Johnson never stepped up. Devin Hester, who never really caught on as a cornerback, now is getting reps at tailback, and WR Sinorice Moss even lined up in the backfield for one carry against Virginia.
GAME OF THE YEAR
The Hurricanes penciled in their reservation for the ACC Championship game with a 27-7 domination of Virginia Tech, but those hopes were erased two weeks later with their loss to Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes entered the game against the Hokies solid underdogs at Blacksburg, but the defense harassed Hokies QB Marcus Vick into six turnovers, and it was pretty much over in the third quarter when Miami tacked on 17 points to its 10-0 halftime lead before the Hokies managed to score midway through the fourth quarter.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Miami RT Rashad Butler vs. LSU DE Melvin Oliver -- Oliver has the ability to turn a game around with his big plays. He has eight sacks, including two in key situations to help preserve the season-ending victory over Arkansas. The Hurricanes gave up 16 sacks in their two losses, as many as they surrendered in the other nine games combined. They need to keep the pressure off QB Kyle Wright to have success.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I think what happened was there was an upset last night. A lot of people thought Virginia Tech was going to win that game and if they did, Florida State with the record they had wouldn't have been invited to the Gator Bowl. With Virginia Tech losing, the Gator Bowl rethought their position and after a number of phone calls, the Gator Bowl decided to invite Virginia Tech." -- Miami athletic director Paul Dee, on why the Gator Bowl passed on Miami after it had appeared it was on the verge of inviting the Hurricanes
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