Bronco Mendenhall has his first big result as Virginia’s head coach with the Cavaliers upsetting the No. 16 Miami Hurricanes 16-13 on Saturday night.
People will probably focus on it too little because of Miami’s quarterback (and overall) situation, but Mendenhall’s defense is absolutely the story of this game. Miami tried everything it could on offense, and running back Travis Homer actually had some real success, but Virginia was just too good in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The Hurricanes couldn’t sustain drives, and the defense couldn’t force the turnovers that it’s so famous for.
Miami actually did intercept Junior College transfer Bryce Perkins three times, but all three were in the first half, and the Hurricanes couldn’t get much out of them. Virginia did an excellent job on defense all game long, and entered halftime with a 13-6 lead. The Cavaliers tacked on a field goal in the fourth quarter, to which Miami responded with a touchdown.
From there to the end of the game, it was a comedy of errors by Miami. A Virginia personal foul on the extra point gave Miami a kickoff from midfield. The onside kick was obvious. Unfortunately, Miami couldn’t execute it well. At all.
On the ensuing Cavalier drive, the Hurricanes actually forced a three-and-out. Unfortunately, a terrible late personal foul penalty by Tito Odenigbo gave Virginia a first down. The defense held again and forced a field goal attempt with 30 seconds left. But Miami roughed the kicker, which gave Virginia a first down.
The Cavaliers gratefully took the penalty and a knee to end the game.
ACC Coastal Chaos
For many years the ACC Coastal had a reputation as both the worst and most volatile power conference division. With the recent rise of Miami and Virginia Tech, that hasn’t quite been true. This year, though, it very well may live up to its reputation.
Currently, four of the teams in the division are either 1-1 or 2-1 in ACC play. That doesn’t do justice to the level of parity in the division, though. Virginia Tech survived North Carolina by scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 19 seconds remaining. Had the Hokies not pulled out that drive (including a long fourth-down conversion), the entire division (aside from Georgia Tech) would have one loss.
Virginia Tech didn’t look good in that game, nor did it look good last week. With Virginia now showing it can compete with — and beat — the best, this division can be won by literally any team. (Again, aside from Georgia Tech. Sorry, Yellow Jackets fans.) Expect more chaos in this division in the coming weeks.
Malik Rosier is back at quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes, but that will be of little solace for him. Coach Mark Richt replaced Rosier — last year’s quarterback for almost the entire season — with N’Kosi Perry early against Florida International. The team was struggling on offense with Rosier at the helm, so the Hurricanes needed change. After Perry threw two interceptions early in this game, though, Rosier came back in at quarterback.
Even with Rosier back at quarterback, the Virginia defense stifled this Miami offense. That will cause serious problems for Mark Richt and this Miami team moving forward. Last year, Miami looked like a near-lock for the College Football Playoff after a 10-0 start. The Hurricanes lost their final two games of the season, and now have lost two this season already. Mark Richt’s initial magic might be losing some of its potency in Miami.