MIAMI GARDENS — Virginia Tech was ready for the heat.
With temperatures in the mid 80’s on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium when the game kicked off, and humidity that made it feel more like the high 90’s on the field, the Hokies decided to rotate the right side of its offensive line to keep everyone fresh in the 42-35 win.
“It was a thick night especially for us, we don’t get a lot of that in Blacksburg,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of the humidity. “It’s been a little bit warm so we were pretty conscientious about keeping those guys fresh.”
That meant Silas Dzansi rotated throughout the game with Luke Tenuta at right tackle while true freshman Doug Nester and Austin Cannon rotated at right guard. Dzansi's issues with cramping go back to last season.
Tenuta came into the game for the first time on Tech’s second possession. Cannon came into the game for the first time at the end of the first quarter, but most of his playing time came in the second half.
Left tackle Christian Darrisaw, left guard Lecitus Smith and center Bryan Hudson didn't miss a snap.
The Hokies overall rushing numbers weren’t spectacular, but they were the first team this season to rush for more than 100 yards against a Miami defense that came into the game ranked No. 6 in the country against the run.
The Hurricanes hadn’t given up more than 3 yards per carry all season either, but that changed on Saturday as well.
Tech finished the game with 43 carries for 153 yards (3.6 yards per carry). The Hokies also had four carries go more than 10 yards (new starting quarterback Hendon Hooker accounted for three of those).
Hooker and company were particularly effective running the ball on third down with nine carries for 89 yards (9.2 yards per carry) and seven first downs.
Tech needed four yards or more on four of those third down conversions (they were 2 of 9 in those situations this season before Saturday). Miami had given up three first downs rushing on third downs through the first four games.
“Obviously, this was a pretty stout test,” Fuente said. “Those two linebackers [Miami’s Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney] have played a lot of football now. They’re really good players. So, we need to continue to improve. That’ll help our quarterback play better too.”
Other than picking up the intensity in practice, Tech didn’t make many changes for the offensive line during the week.
“No difference,” Fuente said. “I thought we maybe carried a little bit less and executed a little bit better, but the primary thing is, I felt like, even though the results weren’t very good, watching the Duke game I felt like we made some small strides in the run game."