Eight sacks on Brad Kaaya put Miami Hurricanes’ linemen in nasty mood

Brad Kaaya (15) is sacked by Virginia Tech defensive lineman Vinny Mihota (99) in the second half. Kaaya was sacked eight times for 57 yards in the game. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Brad Kaaya (15) is sacked by Virginia Tech defensive lineman Vinny Mihota (99) in the second half. Kaaya was sacked eight times for 57 yards in the game. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

If University of Miami guard Danny Isidora is right about what’s ailing the offensive line, it should be an easy fix.

Quarterback Brad Kaaya was sacked eight times in last week’s loss at Virginia Tech, a number assistant coach Thomas Brown believes is the worst he’s ever been associated with. As if the number isn’t ugly enough, consider that it tied a career high for Kaaya — not for most career sacks in a game, but in any entire month during his three seasons as a Hurricane.

Isidora said Tuesday that he believes the line needs to get nastier. If heading into Notre Dame on Saturday while coming off an eight-sack performance isn’t enough to get blockers in a fighting mood, what is?

“As an offensive line we need to play more nasty,” Isidora said.

The focal point this week, he added, is “Technique and toughness — that’s what we’re working on. We’ve got to pick it up.”

If they don’t, Kaaya will continue to be picking up himself — and maybe more molars. Line coach Stacy Searels, as fond of sugarcoating as he is of sacks, was asked for the second consecutive week to assess his unit’s performance.

“Let’s go back to our last quote,” Searels said. “Did you see the game?”

Searels, however, was philosophical about the task ahead.

“Do you ever enjoy not winning?” he said. “No, no. But do I enjoy working with these guys, working to see them go through adversity and how they’re going to handle it, because that’s what life is, how you handle adversity? And there’s adversity right now. It’s hit. It’s hit hard.”

Kaaya has been, which probably is a reason that for the second consecutive week, Richt made his quarterback off-limits to the media.

“Of course we give each other reassurance,” Isidora said of the communication between quarterback and blockers. “We have to. I mean, we’re a team. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Although Kaaya has taken responsibility for many sacks, Isidora isn’t having any of it.

“I put that on us,” Isidora said. “I wouldn’t put it on Brad. It’s not his job.”

Kaaya was sacked twice in the first four games combined. But as the Hurricanes have stepped up in the level of competition, Kaaya has gone down, suffering 13 sacks the past three games. He’s on pace for a career-high 25 sacks.

“We don’t blame anybody,” Richt said. “We correct.”

Who is he correcting? Everybody.

“All I can tell you is when we meet, everybody’s got a piece of this pie, so to speak,” Richt said. “Everybody’s got a job to do.”

For example, the running backs, wildly effective the first few weeks, could help by giving Kaaya more manageable down-and-distance situations. Richt pointed out that late in the Penn State-Ohio State game, he noticed how the Buckeyes had issues with pass protection because it was obvious they needed to throw.

“These D-ends are pretty good across the country,” Richt said. “I think Ohio State has one of the better lines in America, so I’m not saying anything bad about them. I’m just saying it’s hard to pass pro down after down like that. So we have to get better on first down. We have to get better on second down. We’ve got to get better running the ball.

“It’s an everybody thing. It’s not just an offensive line thing.”

But being the line coach, Searels takes eight sacks personally.

“We’ve got a standard and the standard’s set real high here at Miami,” he said. “Real high. There’s been some outstanding offensive lines here. And we’re not going to lower that standard and we’re going to demand that we do it right until we get it right. We’ve got a ways to go there.”

If getting angry about eight sacks is the first step, perhaps they’ve at least made it that far.

“It’s being nasty, it’s cutting, it’s everything,” Isidora said. “Finishing your block. Putting a guy on his back. We need to play to that standard.”

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