Manny Diaz: Hard Rock Stadium ‘can get spooky’ for opponents 

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[Brown slams Miami’s offensive performance vs. UNC]

CORAL GABLES — Long derided by opposing fans as a place where no one goes on Saturdays, Hard Rock Stadium is getting its due.

Hours after Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz sang its praises as a up-and-coming house of horrors for visiting teams, the College Football Playoff announced the newly renovated yard in Miami Gardens will host the 2021 national championship.

Though UM hasn’t sold out a game this year — and typically doesn’t unless a rival team comes to town — Miami’s program turnaround has sparked changes at 347 Don Shula Drive. The canopy roof helps holds in sound, and UM’s crowds have been a factor in forcing shaky play from opposing offenses. It’s one reason the 10th-ranked Hurricanes (7-0, 5-0 ACC) have won 12 games in a row, and are 8-2 at home since Mark Richt and his staff took over last year.

“That place can get spooky now,” said Diaz, who knows all about a legitimate home-field advantage. He grew up attending Canes games in the Orange Bowl, when crowds would show up when it counted most.

While nothing compares to how that stadium rocked and swayed during Miami’s record 58-game home winning streak from 1985-94, Diaz he hopes his program is building toward it.

He hopes the 8 p.m. game Saturday against 13th-ranked Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1) will be another step.

“There was a time that when you came to Miami and you found out the game was at night, that you knew your chances of victory were very low,” said Diaz, 43. “Because the city brought it.”

The winner of this game will have the inside track to the ACC Coastal crown. It will also greatly improve their standing in the race for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff. Miami is wearing all-black “Miami Nights” uniforms and calling for fans to dress in kind.

Diaz hopes fans will shout the Hokies back to Blacksburg.

“That’s what we need on Saturday night,” he said. “It could be a big-time advantage. They have not played a lot of road games. … [Virginia Tech has] a great environment up there. It was hard on us a year ago. We need to return the favor.”

More Miami-Virginia Tech 

[Fun with proud grandpa, candy corn-lover Mark Richt]

[Berrios earns big-money scholarship]

[Hard Rock Stadium to host 2021 national championship]

[Canes 10th in first CFP rankings]

[Miami: Bad unbeaten team, or ‘learning how to win’?]

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