The University of Miami football team began its first real preparation for Thursday night's ESPN showdown with Virginia Tech by practicing well past sundown Sunday evening at Greentree Practice Field.
Coach Randy Shannon said the team spent the extra time working on special teams -- something Frank Beamer's team has always been known for. Monday morning, Shannon will hold his weekly press conference and we'll get to speak with more players about the game. But you can tell a big point of emphasis this week is getting the running game going.
Last year, UM was held to minus-2 yards in the 44-14 loss at Virginia Tech. Before last week's win at Virginia when Graig Cooper finally broke through and Miami finished with 197 yards rushing, the Canes running game had been struggling. Virginia Tech has the 16th-best run defense in the country and shutdown Maryland's running game in their win last Thursday.
"We just got to patient on offense. You just can't abandon the run game early. You may get a one-yard gain, a zero-yard gain. As long as you aren't taking 4-5 yard losses, then, you'll be ok. Eventually, you'll break one," Shannon said. "When you play Virginia Tech, the way [defensive coordinator Bud] Foster coaches, you have to be patient. He's going to want you to grind the football."
> Despite reports last week starting left tackle Jason Fox would be healthy enough to play this week, Shannon backed off a bit Sunday when asked about Fox's condition. "He moved around a little bit today, not much," Shannon said. "We'll see how sore he is tomorrow."
Starting linebacker Daryl Sharpton and running back Javarris James, however, should be fine. For real.