It's now or never for the Miami Hurricanes fading ACC Coastal hopes.
A win tonight would rejuvenate UM's chances at their first division title.
A loss could send the season spiraling downward.
Can the 'Canes muster together a winning effort Vs the Hokies with their backs against the wall?
2016's defining moment could be tonight in Lane Stadium.
Please join in with fellow Miami fans and leave plenty of comments below.
Game Notes (Courtesy UM):
MIAMI TRAVELS TO BLACKSBURG FOR THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
• The Miami Hurricanes head to Virginia Tech Thursday night for a key ACC Coastal matchup. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will air nationally on ESPN.
• The Hurricanes lead the all-time series by a 20-13 count. Virginia Tech owns a 7-6 advantage in games held in Blacksburg.
• Miami’s last trip to Blacksburg in 2014 also occured on Thursday night. The Hurricanes won that matchup by a 30-6.
• Miami owns a 17-3 record in games played on Thursday night since 2000.
A LOOK BACK AT UNC: CANES’ SECOND HALF RALLY FALLS SHORT
• Miami trailed 20-3 at the half, but responded in the second half by outscoring UNC 10-0. The Hurricanes had the ball with 1:45 to go in the game, but were unable to get into the endzone for the game-tying score.
• Miami’s matchup with North Carolina marked the 20th meeting between the two schools. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series, 11-9.
• Miami Starters:
Offensive Starters: QB #15 Brad Kaaya, RB #1 Mark Walton, WR #3 Stacy Coley, WR #82 Ahmmon Richards, FB #36 Marquez Williams, TE #23 Christopher Herndon IV, LT #73 Trevor Darling, LG #52 Kc McDermott, C #68 Nick Linder, RG #63 Danny Isidora, RT #78 Tyree St. Louis.
Defensive Starters: DB #29 Corn Elder, DB #22 Sheldrick Redwine, DB #26 Rayshawn Jenkins, DB #4 Jaquan Johnson, LB #53 Zach McCloud, LB #55 Shaquille Quarterman, LB #56 Michael Pinckney, DL #80 RJ McIntosh, DL #7 Kendrick Norton, DL #31 Demetrius Jackson, DL #9 Chad Thomas.
• Junior quarterback Brad Kaaya finished the game 16-of-31 for 224 yards.
• Senior cornerback Corn Elder, senior offensive lineman Danny Isidora, sophomore defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh and freshman linebacker Shaquille Quarterman represented the Hurricanes during the coin toss against North Carolina.
• Kaaya’s 16 completions moved him past Gino Torretta (555) and Stephen Morris (551) to move into third place all-time. He currently has 557 career completions.
• Tight end David Njoku caught four passes for 82 yards. His 82 yards receiving were a single game career high.
• Sophomore running back Mark Walton led the Hurricanes in rushing with 82 yards on a career-high 24 carries.
MEET THE NEW GUY IN TOWN - MARK RICHT
• University of Miami Director of Athletics Blake James announced on Dec. 4, 2015 the hiring of Hurricane alumnus Mark Richt as the 24th head football coach at The U.
• Richt was officially introduced to the public at a news conference at the Shalala Student Center.
• Richt, born in Omaha, Neb., and raised in Boca Raton, Fla., returned to his alma mater after leading the University of Georgia football program for the previous 15 years. During that time he compiled a 145-51 overall record and an 83-37 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
• Richt won two SEC championships, six SEC East titles and nine bowl games, and finished the season in the Associated Press Top 10 rankings seven times.
RICHT AND THE ACC
• Mark Richt will faceoff against Virginia Tech for just the second time in his head coaching career.
• Richt holds a 20-5 record against teams from the ACC.
COMING BACK STRONG
• Throughout his college coaching career, Mark Richt has posted a .737 winning percentage in large part to his teams not losing three games in-a-row.
• Over the course of his 202-game career as a head coach, Richt has only suffered three straight losses in a single season once.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• Miami will be in search for back-to-back wins in Blacksburg, Va. for the first time since joining the ACC.
• Mark Richt will be in search of his 150th career win.
• Quarterback Brad Kaaya needs 88 yards passing to overtake former Hurricane signal caller Stephen Morris for third on the all-time career passing yards list.
• Kaaya also needs just 191 yards to become the third quarterback in program history to pass for 8,000-or-more yards. Jacory Harris (8,826) and Ken Dorsey (9,565) are the only other Miami quarterbacks to throw for 8,000-or-more yards in their careers.
• Kaaya will look to throw for 200-or-more yards for the 24th time his career. In 23 of his 31 career games, Kaaya has thrown for over 200 yards. He also has at least one touchdown in 27 career outings.
• Senior wide receiver Stacy Coley needs just 28 yards to move into second place on the all-time kickoff return list.
• Coley needs just two more receiving touchdowns to crack the all-time top 10 for receiving touchdowns in a single season.
• Coley needs five receptions to pass former Hurricane star Travis Benjamin (131) for sixth on the all-time reception list.
• Coley also is just 65 yards shy of passing Hurricane legend Andre Johnson for ninth all-time in career receiving yards.
• If running back Joe Yearby surpasses 100 yards rushing, it would mark the eighth time in his career in which he has passed the century mark and would tie him for eighth all-time with Frank Gore.
• Senior offensive lineman Danny Isidora will look to make his 33rd consecutive start. Isidora’s current consecutive start streak of 32 games is the team’s longest.
• Miami needs just four tackles for loss to surpass the entire 2015 tackle for loss total. The Hurricanes are also just seven sacks away from surpassing last year’s sack total.
• QB Brad Kaaya is in the midst of his junior season at Miami where he has already posted career numbers that rank among the most prolific in program history.
• Kaaya was on the preseason watch lists for eight major honors: The Lombardi Award, the Manning Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, College Football Performance, the Davey O’Brien Award, American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, the Wuerffel Trophy and the Maxwell Award.
• Kaaya’s 7,809 career passing yards are already the fourth-most in Miami history. His 3,238 passing yards as a sophomore in 2015 are tied for the sixth-most in a single season, while his 3,198 yards in 2014 are the eighth-most. He is the only QB with two individual seasons ranking in the top 10.
• With his three touchdown passes at Appalachian State, Kaaya passed legendary Hurricane quarterbacks Craig Erickson, Gino Torretta, Steve Walsh and Vinny Testaverde on the all-time touchdown pass list.
• Kaaya’s 52 career touchdown passes are ranked third all-time in Miami history.
• Kaaya has thrown for 200 or more yards in 23 of his 31 career games and has eight career 300-yard performances. His career high of 405 yards came at Florida State on October 10, 2015.
• Kaaya was one of just three players nationally to throw for 3,000-or-more yards, 10-or-more touchdowns and five-or-fewer interceptions in 2015.
• As a freshman in 2014, Kaaya was named the ACC Offensive and ACC Overall Rookie of the Year after a stellar first campaign with the Hurricanes.
MAKING HIS MARK
• Running back Mark Walton has rushed for over 100 yards on the ground in three of the Hurricanes’ six games this season.
• This past Saturday against North Carolina, Walton rushed for 82 yards on a career-best 24 carries.
• Walton has already surpassed his 2015 rushing total of 461 yards. He currenlty leads the team with 566 yards on the ground.
• Walton scored a touchdown on the first play of the game at Appalachian State, as he raced 80 yards for the score. His 80-yard run was the longest of his young career.
• Walton’s 80-yard touchdown run against Appalachian State remains as the longest rush in the ACC this season.
• In 19 career games, Walton has scored 18 touchdowns (17 rushing, one receiving).
• Walton currently ranks 34th nationally in rushing yards per game, averaging 94.3 yards per game. He also ranks 17th nationally in rushing touchdowns with eight.
• On Sept. 10 against FAU, Walton rushed for a career-high 155 yards. He also scored a career-high four touchdowns against the Owls. In two career games against FAU, Walton has totaled seven rushing touchdowns.
• Walton got off to an impressive start to the 2016 season, as he rushed for a then-career-high 116 yards and had one touchdown against FAMU.
• Walton delivered an impressive first season with the Hurricanes as a freshman in 2015, ranking second on the team with 1,054 all-purpose yards and first with 10 total touchdowns.
• Walton’s 10 touchdowns - nine rushing and one receiving - were tied with Stacy Coley (2013) for second-most by a Miami freshman since 2000.
• Walton, who had 461 rushing yards and 293 receiving yards, was one of just 11 freshman running backs nationally with eight-or-more rushing touchdowns in 2015.
• Miami freshman linebackers Michael Pinckney, Shaquille Quarterman and Zach McCloud have made an immediate impact in their first seasons at The U.
• The three rookie linebackers have combined for 78.0 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
• The Miami freshman trio has started at linebacker in the Hurricanes’ last four games. UM is the only school in the nation that has started three true freshman linebackers.
• Quarterman and Pinckney are ranked second (35.0) and fourth (31.0) on the team in tackles, while McCloud ranks 13th on the team in tackles with 12.0.
AHMMON RICHARDS AMONG THE BEST UM FRESHMEN WRs ... EVER
• Freshman wide receiver Ahmmon Richards currently leads the Hurricanes with 359 yards receiving. His 359 yards currently rank eighth on the all-time freshman receiving yards list.
• Michael Irvin holds the all-time freshman receiving record.
CANES ON THE ROAD
• The Hurricanes’ midweek road trip to Virginia Tech will mark Miami’s third road trip of the season. In two road games this season, Miami has outscored its opponents by a 80-31 mark and has posted a perfect 2-0 record.
• Through six games this season, punter Justin Vogel has lived up to his preseason all-conference honor. The Tampa, Fla., native has 27 punts for 1,206 yards. His 44.7 yards per punt average ranks third in the ACC and 16th nationally.
• Vogel has nine punts inside the 20-yard line and has eight that have gone over 50 yards.
• Vogel earned Preseason All-ACC honors after a stellar junior season in which he was recognized with All-ACC third-team honors by media and All-ACC honorable mention from the league’s coaches.
• Vogel averaged 42.5 yards per punt in 2015, while his 73-yarder against Clemson on Oct. 24 was the longest of any ACC punter in 2015. He totaled 13 punts of 50 yards or more last season.
• Vogel was one of 28 punters to be named to the watch list for the 2016 Ray Guy Award. Vogel is a three-time Ray Guy Award nominee and was a semifinalist for the award in 2014.
• After spending the 2013 season at Florida, Vogel averaged 42.8 yards per punt and 62.1 yards on kickoffs in 2014. He was named third-team All-ACC by Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
THE COLEY CONNECTION
• Wide receiver Stacy Coley has established himself as one of the Hurricanes’ top pass catchers of all-time. In 42 career games, Coley has hauled in 127 receptions (seventh all-time) for 1,767 yards (10th all-time) and 17 touchdowns (tied for seventh all-time).
• Coley’s six receiving touchdowns are ranked 15th in the NCAA.
• He currently stands as the team’s leading pass catcher with 24 receptions.
• Coley has caught a pass in 15 straight games.
• Back on Oct. 10, Coley earned ACC Receiver of the Week after he hauled in seven catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State.
• Coley had a dominant freshman season in 2013, earning freshman All-America honors and All-ACC recognition after leading the team with 1,461 all-purpose yards.
• After a quiet 2014, he returned to form in 2015. Despite missing two games with a hamstring injury, Coley finished second on the team in catches (47) and receiving yards (689).
• Coley’s 79.2 yards-per-game average in conference play ranked second in the ACC last season.
• He caught at least three passes in each of his final nine games in 2015, and had 678 yards over that span.
• Following the 2015 campaign, he earned All-ACC Second Team (Coaches) and All-ACC Third Team (ACSMA) recognition.
CAN OF CORN
• Cornerback Corn Elder has continued to build off of his strong junior campaign. Through six games in 2016, Elder has totaled 35.0 tackles (31.0 solo), 3.5 tackle for loss, 2.0 sack, one interception and five pass breakups.
• His five pass break ups are a team-best. His 31.0 solo tackles are tied for the team lead.
• In the Hurricanes’ home opener against FAMU, Elder picked off a pass and tallied a pair of tackles.
• In Miami’s first road game of the year at Appalachian State, Elder tied a then career high with 7.0 tackles. He also tallied a sack, a tackle for loss, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry.
• Against Florida State, Elder registered 6.0 tackles and one pass break up.
• This past weekend versus North Carolina, Elder posted career highs in tackles (14.0) and solo tackles (11.0). He also tallied a pass breakup and a sack.
• Elder emerged as one of Miami’s top playmakers in 2015.
• Elder took the final lateral of "The Return" 91 yards to give Miami a 30-27 win over Duke in 2015.
• Elder tied for fifth in the ACC with 13 passes defended (1.0 per game).
• Elder led all UM cornerbacks in sacks with 2.0 in 2015.
• Junior Michael Badgley enjoyed a prolific season in 2015, setting the single-season record for made field goals (25) and besting the previous school record held by Jon Peattie (22, 2003). He entered 2016 on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which honors the nation’s best kicker.
• Badgley has connected on 28 extra points this season. His consecutive streak for PAT kicks made ended against Florida State at 72. He has now 102 PAT kicks for his career. He is 6-for-9 in field goal attempts this season.
• This past weekend against North Carolina, Badgley hit a pair of field goals from 47 and 22 yards out.
• Against Florida State, Badgley drilled two field goals, including a season-long 51 yard field goal.
• Against Appalachian State, Badgley connected on six extra points and a 44-yard field goal.
• He is a perfect 14-of-14 in field goal attempts from between 40-49 yards during his UM career.
• Badgley tied a UM record when he hit a 57-yard field goal against Georgia Tech in 2015.
• The Summit, N.J., native set a school record when he hit five field goals against Nebraska in 2015, and would tie that mark later in the season with five field goals made against Pittsburgh.
• Badgley’s 2.08 field goals per game average ranked first in Division I last season, while his 25 made field goals were tied for fourth-most in the nation. He ranked 16th in scoring (9.6 points per game).
THE SOUTH FLORIDA DUO
• Miami running backs Mark Walton and Joe Yearby have combined to rush for exactly 1,000 yards this season.
• Louisville’s rushing duo of Lamar Jackson and Brandon Radcliff are the only other rushing tandem in the ACC that have more combined yards than Walton and Yearby.
• Walton (566) and Yearby (434) have accounted for 88 percent of the Hurricanes rushing output this year.
• In addtion, Walton (48) and Yearby (30) have combined for 78 points.
• Both Walton (Booker T. Washington) and Yearby (Miami Central) attended Miami-area high schools before joining the Hurricanes.
• Offensive lineman Danny Isidora, leads all Hurricanes with 32 straight starts.
• Fellow offensive linemen Nick Linder and Trevor Darling also have proven to be mainstays on the Hurricanes’ offensive line as they have both started 24 straight games.
• Isidora, Linder, Darling and running back Joe Yearby were the only Hurricanes to start every game last season.
• Miami’s active all-time start leaders include offensive lineman Danny Isidora (32), quarterback Brad Kaaya (31), defensive back Rayshawn Jenkins (28) and wide receiver Stacy Coley (26).
• Miami is 17-1 since 2011 when forcing three-or-more turnovers, plus the Canes have won 62 of their last 66 games when recording at least three takeaways.
• Miami has scored 220 points through five games this season.
• The Hurricanes are averaging 36.7 points per game, which ranks 30th in the NCAA and third in the ACC.
• The Hurricanes have outgained their opponents 2,536-1,881 through six games this season.
• Miami scored 70-or-more points for just the third time in school history on Sept. 3 as the Hurricanes hung 70 points on FAMU in their home opener.
• Miami’s offense over the past two seasons has been among the most explosive in program history, ranking second in 2014 (5,594) and ninth in 2015 (5,161).
• UM compiled 5,536 total yards in 2013, which ranks as the third-best total in history.
ALMOST PERFECT 10
• Teams rarely beat Miami when scoring 10-or-fewer points.
• The Hurricanes are now 161-2 in their last 163 games when holding opponents to 10 points or less, after winning 45-10 at Appalachian State. That run goes back to Oct. 1, 1977, ironically, a season that began with Miami holding its first two opponents to exactly 10 points apiece and still losing both of those games.
• The only 10 points allowed-or-less losses since: Nov. 8, 2003 to Tennessee (10-6) and Sept. 5, 2005 to Florida State (10-7).
• Craig Kuligowski, who is widely regarded as one of the top defensive line coaches in the country, has already made an immediate impact in his first season at Miami. The Hurricanes currently lead the nation in tackles for loss per game (10.5) and are ranked 14th in sacks per per game (3.17).
• Through six games, Miami has totaled 63 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. In 2015, the Hurricanes recorded 66 tackles for loss and 26 sacks for the entire season.
• Prior to arriving at Miami, Kuligowski spent 15 years at Missouri, where his defensive line units frequently ranked among the nation’s best in tackles for loss and sacks.
• Under first year defensive coordinator and Miami native Manny Diaz, the Hurricanes are ranked in the top 15 nationally in four different defensive categories: scoring defense (No. 4/14.0), team sacks (No. 14/3.17), tackles for loss (No. 1/10.5) and total defense (No. 14/313.5).
• Miami has allowed just nine touchdowns in its last 26 quarters dating back to last season.
• Miami’s defense has started and finished games strong, outscoring its opponents by a combined 75-13 in the first and fourth quarters of games.
• In its ACC opener against Georgia Tech, Miami’s defense accounted for 12 points as freshmen Shaquille Quarterman and Joe Jackson each returned a fumble for a touchdown.
• Against Appalachian State, Miami held the Mountaineers to just 2.6 yards per carry on the ground.
• Miami dominated FAU in the first half, as it held the Owls to just one yard rushing on 17 attempts. The Hurricanes also did not allow the Owls to convert one third-down conversion as they went 0-for-11. FAU finished the game with just 46 yards.
• The Hurricanes opened the year on a high note, as they held FAMU to just 43 second-half yards.
PAVING THE WAY
• The Hurricanes’ offensive line has paved the way for 1,131 rushing yards this season. Miami’s ground attack is averaging 188.5 yards per game, which ranks 52nd in the country and sixth in the ACC.
• Through six games, the Hurricanes have totaled 360 plays and have allowed just 21.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks. Miami opponents are averaging just 3.50 tackles for loss per game - a figure that ranks second in the ACC and fifth nationally.
• Center Nick Linder was named to the Lombardi Award, Outland Award and Rimington Trophy preseason watch lists. Fellow offensive lineman Danny Isidora also was named to the Outland Award watch list.
• UM entered the 2015 season with one of the youngest offensive lines in the ACC, totaling 23 starts. Miami offensive linemen now have 100 career starts.
• In 13 games last season, Miami’s youthful offensive line, which consisted of a combination of one redshirt freshman, three sophomores and two juniors, allowed the Hurricanes to average 401.4 yards per game in total offense.
A SPECIAL TEAM
• Miami special teams have played a major factor in the Hurricanes’ four wins this season.
• Sophomore RJ McIntosh blocked his first career punt against FAU on Sept. 10. It marked the second straight week in which a Miami player had blocked a punt. Pat Bethel blocked a punt in the Hurricanes’ season opener against FAMU.
• McIntosh also has blocked two kicks this season. His two blocked kicks are ranked third in the NCAA.
• As a team, Miami’s three blocked kicks ranks fourth nationally and are tied for the ACC lead with Virginia Tech.
• The Hurricanes are one of just eight teams nationally that have blocked two punts this season. Miami’s two blocked punts are tied for the national lead.
• Junior Braxton Berrios’ 41-yard punt return for a touchdown in Miami’s season opener against FAMU was the first of his career. It also marked the first time a Hurricane had scored on a punt return since Corn Elder did so against Bethune-Cookman in 2015.
• Berrios also had a career-best 43-yard punt return, which set up the Hurricanes second touchdown of the night against Florida State.
• Berrios currently ranks ninth in the nation and third in the ACC in punt return average (13.4).
• Junior kicker Michael Badgley has connected on 28 extra points this season. He also is 6-of-9 in field goals this year, including a season-long 51 yard field goal against Florida State.
• Senior Justin Vogel ranks third in the ACC and 16th nationally in punting (44.7 avg.).
MIAMI IN THE RANKINGS
• Following the Hurricanes’ 20-13 loss against North Carolina, Miami dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since
• Miami was ranked as high as No. 10 in both polls and was the highest-ranked FBS team in the state of Florida.
• Miami opened the season receiving votes in both polls.
#PROCANES CONTINUING TRADITION
• Miami currently has 43 #ProCanes on NFL rosters; 22 of 32 NFL teams had at least one former Cane on their roster, while the Indianapolis Colts lead all teams with four.
• Miami had two players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft: DB Artie Burns (1st round, PIT) and DB Deon Bush (4th, CHI).
• Miami had eight former student-athletes sign free agent contracts following the 2015 season: Rashawn Scott (MIA), Tracy Howard (CLE), Ufomba Kamalu (DEN), Calvin Heurtelou (HOU), Herb Waters (GB), Tyriq McCord (PIT) and Raphael Kirby (DET).
• The Hurricanes have had five or more players taken in the NFL Draft on 24 separate occasions since 1980.
• Ninety five Hurricanes have been picked in the NFL Draft since the start of the 2000 season, a figure that is tied for second-most among all NCAA programs.
• Miami’s 29 NFL first-round draft picks since 2000, including Artie Burns (No. 25 overall) in 2016, are the most among all NCAA programs.
• This season Miami will select its captains on a game-by-game basis.
• In game seven, senior defensive back Jamal Carter, senior defensive back Corn Elder, senior offensive lineman Danny Isidora and senior punter Justin Vogel will represent the Hurricanes during the coin toss against Virginia Tech.
Game 1: Jamal Carter, Danny Isidora, Brad Kaaya and Justin Vogel
Game 2: Braxton Berrios, Corn Elder, Nick Linder, Rayshawn Jenkins
Game 3: Braxton Berrios, Shaquille Quarterman, Sheldrick Redwine, Marquez Williams
Game 4: Michael Badgley, Danny Isidora, Kendrick Norton, Chad Thomas
Game 5: Michael Badgley, Jamal Carter, Corn Elder, Brad Kaaya
Game 6: Corn Elder, Danny Isidora, R.J. McIntosh, Shaquille Quarterman
ZAGACKI AND BAILEY RETURN TO THE BOOTH FOR YEAR 15
• "Voice of the Hurricanes" Joe Zagacki and color commentator Don Bailey, Jr. are in the booth for their 15th year of Miami football on the radio.
• The radio team has broadcast 220 straight games together.
2016 Miami Hurricane Football Affiliates
Miami’s Sports Radio 560 WQAM: Miami- Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
WKWF AM Sports Radio1600: Key West- Marathon-Key Largo
ESPN West Palm 106.3FM: West Palm Beach
WPSL 1590 The Talk of the Treasure Coast: Stuart-Ft Pierce-Port St Lucie
WSTU AM 1450 Martin County’s Heritage Station: Stuart-Jupiter
WFWN 97.3 The Fan: FT Myers-Naples
WHOO 1080 SPORTS TALK 1080 Orlando-Kissimmee
WHBO 1040 Sports Talk 1040: Tampa-St Petersburg
WXIC 1060 AM: Melbourne-Titusville
1010XL-92.5FM: Jacksonville Sports Radio - Jacksonville - St. Augustine
1490 WTKE: Fox Sports Radio Northwest Florida’s New Home for Sports-Pensacola
• The University of Miami football team travels to Notre Dame on Oct. 29. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on NBC.