Miami football game against Virginia Tech almost didn’t happen

Oct 5, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 5, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami football game at Virginia Tech was almost canceled on Saturday with 13 Hurricanes out because of COVID-19.

The Miami football team was missing 13 players in their 25-24 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday. Miami almost did not play because of the potential of not be able to compete at several position groups. The Hurricanes were missing four players each on the offensive and defensive lines plus three starters overall.

Starters, left guard Jakai Clark, defensive tackle Jared Harrison-Hunte and weakside linebacker Zach McCloud were all out against Virginia Tech. Ten non-starters were unavailable due to unspecified COVID related issues, eligibility, or injuries. Speaking in the postgame, Manny Diaz praised his team for wanting to play.

Harrison-Hunte was leading the Miami football team with three sacks entering the game on Saturday. Senior Jon Ford who Harrison-Hunte replaced as a starter for North Carolina State was back on the first team Saturday. Ford had the best game of his Miami career with six tackles. Sam Brooks played very well replacing McCloud.

Brooks finished with seven tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack in the second start of his Miami career. Ousmane Traore replaced Clark on the offensive line. The Miami defensive line was decimated by injuries with four players out in addition to Harrison-Hunte. Manny Diaz spoke about the thought process before Saturday.

"“We were on the brink…The players’ attitudes I thought was the most telling. They wanted to play and we were right on the brink at some position groups and whether we could even function as a team…Every time, the decision is made when you get your final ACC test.There’s always a scenario on that test that you could not play a game…That’s really the final hurdle to get you here, but then you go backward from that.It’s the test the day before the game, so I think those are really the two big moments where it’s like, OK, here’s where we’re at, and who else can we lose and still find a way to play the games?”"

Coming out of Blackburg with a victory is a credit to the entire Miami coaching staff. Jaelan Phillips should win his second straight ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week Award. Phillips finished with eight tackles, three TFLs and two sacks. The Miami defense was dominant in the fourth quarter for the second straight game.

Next. Miami victory keyed by Jaelan Phillips dominant performance. dark

After allowing six total yards and three points in the fourth quarter against North Carolina State, Miami held Virginia Tech 61 yards and no points. The win was a team effort on Saturday with big plays on offense and defense in the fourth quarter to earn the win. Miami is scheduled to play Georgia Tech next Saturday.