Five things we learned from Miami Hurricanes’ 34-14 win at Virginia

[Game story: Miami pounds out a win]

[DT Jenkins suspended for lack of discipline]

[Live blog]

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Miami won its second straight after a four-game losing streak, cruising to a 20-point win against a struggling ACC Coastal opponent.

Miami will be playing in December. The Hurricanes may not make the playoff, but they’ll be playing in one of the ACC’s bowl games next month, by virtue of winning their sixth game. Now it’s a question of where. If Miami keeps winning, the Pinstripe (New York City) is in play, or the TaxSlayer (Jacksonville) against an SEC team. That — and knowing that all jobs are on the line, as Mark Richt tries to raise this program’s profile — should keep young players competitive through the final two. The draft-eligible players, clearly, have much to play for.

The Hurricanes are eliminated from the Coastal race. They would lose tiebreakers to Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Pitt, which shocked Clemson on Saturday and has a shot at 5-3. Why? In the event of a tie between three or more teams, the ACC uses head-to-head winning percentage between the tied teams. Miami, if it won its last two games and found itself in a three-way tie with Virginia and UNC, has a .000 winning percentage against those teams. Include Pitt, and Miami would be .333. But Virginia Tech is 1.000 against UM, UNC and Pitt.

Plays made in the passing game. Miami built on its performance from Pittsburgh, where Stacy Coley, Ahmmon Richards and David Njoku looked excellent. Coley had a 32-yard, toe-tapping sideline catch. Njoku, a clear red-zone mismatch, caught a 13-yard touchdown.

And Richards, man. His 77-yard catch-and-run showcased his hands, his moves and his speed, and caused one press-box observer to remark, “Enjoy him for the next two years, Miami.” He certainly looks like a future NFL draft pick. “Every game he’s making game-changing plays,” Brad Kaaya said. “He’s only going to keep getting better. He’s been phenomenal this year.

Mark Walton is putting together a fine season. The sophomore asserted his dominance on several runs, including one where he absorbed a defender torpedoing his midsection, then kept churning his legs.

“He had some great runs early on,” Richt said. “On one of the screen passes, he was breaking tackles and got the first downs. We had some third-down runs where he really made the difference. I think the blocking was good, for the most part, but there were a few times where he was just ripping through tackles and just wasn’t going to be denied a first down and kept a couple drives going.”

He reached the 100-yard mark for the second game in a row, and is now 115 yards from his first 1,000-yard season. It would give Miami an 1,000-yard rusher for the third year in a row (Joe Yearby 2015, Duke Johnson 2014). It would also be the second time Miami has achieved that feat in its history. James Jackson (2000), Clinton Portis (2001) and Willis McGahee (2002) were the first and only trio.

Speaking of trios, Yearby and the resurgent Gus Edwards had their most productive day since Florida Atlantic on Sept. 10.

The O-line had another good game. Missing two key starters — left tackle Trevor Darling and center Nick Linder, both experienced juniors — and without right tackle Sunny Odogwu. Moved left guard Kc McDermott to left tackle. Playing two sophomores, one (Tyler Gauthier) starting for the first time.

The results: Brad Kaaya was sacked once, and had plenty of time to throw. UM allowed four tackles for losses. The line opened holes for the backs and kept Kaaya’s jersey clean. Before you say “it’s Virginia,” recall Miami looked just as capable last week against Pitt, which has a couple NFL prospects up front. Given the personnel changes, the Canes’ O-line deserves props.

“Those guys did a great job,” Richt said. [Offensive line] coach [Stacy] Searels did a great job. We actually had Trevor here and watched him warm up, and if Trevor looked good enough, we probably would have played him, but he looked ginger and tender on it [a source told The Post he has a sprained MCL], so we chose not to play him. There were not a whole lot of options after that if we had anybody go down, especially at the tackle position. Considering what happened Tuesday, when Trevor got nicked up a little bit, I thought coach Searels did a good job of getting the guys in the right spot. McDermott played well at tackle. I thought we protected Brad pretty well, for the most part, and I thought it was a good day for the offensive line.”

The D-line is fearsome. Joe Jackson, the freshman defensive end who’s really come on as of late, revealed Miami knew it could rattle Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert. “Watching film, he’s been sacked so many times, when you bring pressure on him he tries to escape,” Jackson said of Benkert, who entered with more interceptions (11) than any ACC quarterback. On one play, Chad Thomas (six tackles, two for loss) chased him out of bounds for a loss, and was credited with a sack even though he didn’t touch him. Virginia’s interior offensive line was no match for tackles Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh, who drew several holding calls. Demetrius Jackson, in his return from a knee injury, combined for a sack.

Jamal Carter tries to punch the ball out of the hands of Virginia running back Taquan Mizzell. (Getty Images)

Jamal Carter tries to punch the ball out of the hands of Virginia running back Taquan Mizzell. (Getty Images)

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