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Postscripts, reaction, thoughts from UM's 30-6 thrashing of Virginia Tech

Postscripts from UM’s 30-6 thumping of Virginia Tech on Thursday night:

### This felt like we stepped into a time machine and arrived just past the turn of the century, as if we were watching the fast, physical, punch-you-in-the-mouth, destroy-everything-in-their-path Canes circa 2002.

Duke Johnson was stupendous: 29 carries for 249 yards (8.6 per carry), easily surpassing his previous career high in rushing yards (186) and equaling Lorenzo Roan’s mark for the third-highest rushing total in UM history.

The only player with more rushing yards in a game for the Hurricanes? Edgerrin James, who scampered for 299 against UCLA in 1998 and rumbled for 271 yards in another game. Johnson is the first Canes player to top 200 yards on the ground since Willis McGahee ran for 2005 against Virginia Tech in 2002.

WQAM's Josh Darrow said Johnson left with a slightly twisted ankle but is fine; Al Golden said afterward that Johnson isn't injured. 

"That was one of the toughest running backs we've ever had to tackle," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said.

Beamer, asked about Johnson being the best running back he has seen this season, told reporters afterward: "Not only all season. Forever."

Golden, on WQAM: "The running backs hit the holes where it needs to be hit. You can't teach what Duke was doing in the second level. He's fun to watch right now and we have the privilege of watching him every day."

### Johnson’s exemplary work wasn’t the least bit surprising; we almost take his greatness for granted.

What was surprising, almost shocking, was this dominant defensive effort, the likes of which we have never witnessed from UM in a road game during the Al Golden era.

As we noted in our analysis of UM’s defense on Sunday, UM entered this game having allowed 33.7 points, on average, in its 14 ACC road games under Golden. Never had UM, under Golden, allowed fewer than 23 points in a conference road game.

Until tonight.

The Hurricanes limited the Hokies to 262 yards (compared with 458 for Miami).

Virginia Tech finished with 120 yards rushing (3.9 per carry); in its first three road games, UM allowed 130 rushing yards against Louisville, 343 vs. Nebraska and 371 against Georgia Tech.

Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio smartly deployed much-improved Raphael Kirby on several run blitzes, and it paid immediate dividends, with Kirby stopping a Hokies runner for a loss on third and inches on Tech’s first possession.

D’Onofrio sent Denzel Perryman and Jermaine Grace on a blitz on third down on Tech’s second possession, and Grace snuck through for a sack, aided by Perryman commanding attention from Tech blockers.

Tech’s next three possessions of the first half ended with Anthony Chickillo batting down a pass; an incomplete pass (Tech’s third in a row) from its one yard line; and a Chickillo sack on a third and eight. All were followed by punts.

The defensive excellence continued in the second half, with UM forcing and recovering fumbles on Tech’s first three possessions of the second half.

This was as complete a road-game performance from UM’s front seven as we’ve seen in a long time. Chickillo, Grace (two fumble recoveries), Perryman (who forced the third Hokies fumble and had 11 tackles), Thurston Armbrister, Tyriq McCord and Kirby were very good. The defensive tackle play was stout.

UM also got a lot of work for newcomers Michael Wyche, Darrion Owens and Trent Harris, who entered for UM’s second defensive series and played periodically throughout the night.

UM’s defensive backs also had some good moments: Deon Bush's strip caused Tech’s first fumble at the Hurricanes two yard line; Tracy Howard forced the second of Tech’s second-half fumbles; Artie Burns made a terrific stick on a punt.

### Golden, on his defense: "Takeaways, red zone stops, third down stops. That's the difference. I could see our guys were going for the ball. We tackled pretty well. We leveraged the screens pretty well; put that to bed so it wouldn't be a  problem. Very aggressive out front. We were around the quarterback a lot."

### Virginia Tech avoided a shutout on Mark Leal’s 14-yard pass to Isaiah Ford on a 4th and 10, with 1:30 left in the game, beating Tracy Howard.

Otherwise, this would have been UM’s first shutout since beating Florida A&M, 49-0, in 2010, and its first shutout against a Division 1 (FBS) team since defeating FIU, 35-0, in 2006.

It also could have been UM’s first shutout against a Power 5 conference team since dismantling Syracuse, 59-0, in 2001. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech barely kept alive its 251-game scoring streak, dating back to 1985.

### UM’s running game (366 yards, 7.2 per carry) and its defense were so exceptional that Miami didn’t need much from Brad Kaaya, who finished 7 for 16 for 92 yards.

"It was a phenomenal game, watching Duke and Gus rush," Kaaya said.

In the passing game, Braxton Berrios couldn’t haul in a potential touchdown and Kaaya and Phillip Dorsett failed to connect on two deep balls; Dorsett couldn’t track the ball on one of them, and the other went off his fingertips.

Kaaya entered having averaged 291 yards passing (with a 65 percent completion rate) in his previous five games.

### Gus Edwards continues to develop impressively, rushing for 115 yards on 20 carries, including TD runs of three and 38 yards. Joseph Yearby did not play because of a sore hamstring.

### The offensive line opened gaping holes for Johnson and Edwards and allowed no sacks. Jon Feliciano's work at right tackle was outstanding.

"This is the best away win I've had," Feliciano told WQAM.

Golden also praised the receivers for their blocking. Virginia Tech entered the game with 28 sacks this season.

### Offensive coordinator James Coley added a wrinkle by implementing the Wildcat. UM used it three times, with Johnson lining up behind center.

Johnson ran for 17 yards the first time, handed off to Stacy Coley for one yard on the second Wildcat play, and Johnson gained four on the third one.

### UM’s receiving totals: Johnson 2 for 37, Dorsett 2 for 15, Edwards 1 for 25, Coley 1 for 13 and Malcolm Lewis 1 for 2.

### UM (5-3, 2-2) kept alive its hopes of winning the Coastal division and won at Virginia Tech for the first time since a 31-7 victory in 2005.

### UM, which entered among the worst in the country on third-down conversions (25 percent), converted 7 of 15, while holding Tech to 3 for 12 on third downs.

### Quick hits: Juwon Young sustained a hamstring injury on the final play of the first half….  UM is 13-0 under Golden when forcing three or more turnovers…. UM, which entered 114th in the country in penalty yards per game, finished with only four penalties for 28 yards…. This was unusual: UM easily won the time of possession, 33:38 to 24:52.... UM's next game, Nov. 1 at home against North Carolina, will be a 12:30 start and televised on the ACC's syndicated TV package.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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