Miami reviewed film Sunday of its 34-14 win at Virginia, before beginning prep for Saturday’s game against North Carolina State (12:30 p.m., ACC regional networks).
The tape session gave Mark Richt a greater appreciation for the performance of his offensive line, which was reshuffled last week because of injuries.
“I think [Kc] McDermott was the key to the whole thing, being able to play left tackle and hold up out there,” Richt said. “I’m not saying Virginia had anyone who was an unbelievable pass-rusher, considered one of the best pass-rushers in the league or anything like that. But he did pass-protect well. He has a good enough understanding where he can go outside and do that.”
McDermott (6-7, 300) played left tackle at Palm Beach Central High, and was a backup right tackle before switching to left guard last year.
Despite two penalty calls against sophomore Tyler Gauthier and one against center Alex Gall, UM was happy about their play. Both performed well enough to help UM rush for 222 yards, its greatest total since Sept. 10 against Florida Atlantic.
Another key: Miami didn’t lose another offensive lineman to injury. “We would have really struggled at that point,” Richt said.
Richt said there’s “a good chance” Trevor Darling (knee) could return to practice and play, though he noted Darling may not be 100 percent. McDermott was playing in Darling’s spot at left tackle, with Gauthier making his first career start at left guard. Gall subbed for Nick Linder (22-start streak at center, busted because of season-ending shoulder surgery).
* Four turnovers gained, all in the second half, helped Miami seal the Virginia win. It was a season high for the Hurricanes. “We definitely talked about it,” senior cornerback Corn Elder said. “That’s something we want to do every game.” UM gained one against Florida State and none against North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Incidentally, those games were tight losses. Miami finished on the minus side of the turnover ledger against UNC and Virginia Tech, and was even against FSU. It is plus-six in its last three games.
N.C. State is minus-2 in its last four games: losses to Louisville, Boston College and Florida State, and last week’s win at Syracuse. Like Miami, dropping would-be interceptions has been a scourge (for example, safety Shawn Boone, a Dwyer alum, couldn’t pick an end-zone pass in the fourth quarter that would have sealed a win over FSU. The Wolfpack lost 24-20.
Last game, Virginia scored to make it 17-14 after sophomore safety Jaquan Johnson dropped a second-quarter interception.
* When Miami lost four in a row and was .500, Richt said he saw no signs of a team that would keep losing.
“I think you see it in a meeting, you’d see it in a practice,” he said. “I never saw it. I saw guys with good attitudes. We’re working hard. It’s hard to hide those emotions. After the losses there were a lot of long faces. Including mine. But when we got back to work the next day, it was outstanding.
“There were a couple guys in the tank we needed to help. Sometimes you’ve got to fake it until you make it, as far as enthusiasm goes.”
* Ahmmon Richards on earning bowl eligibility: “It feels great, honestly,” he said. “You work so hard, and you want to have a payoff. It’s a great way for our seniors to go out … but right now we’re really focusing on N.C. State.”