The Miami Hurricanes have rolled out some of college football’s nastiest defenses over the course of many decades. Since Manny Diaz arrived on campus in 2016, the ‘Canes have 33 sacks in 2016 and in 45 2017. Even after losing Kendrick Norton, RJ McIntosh, Trent Harris and Chad Thomas to the NFL, the ‘Canes still expect to get after quarterbacks on every down. The Hurricanes have Joe Jackson, Demetrius Jackson, Scott Patchan, Gerald Willis and Pat Bethel to provide a pass rush without having to blitz linebackers or cornerbacks as often.
With the resurgence of sack totals and quarterback nightmares from the fellas down in Coral Gables I wanted to take a look at the five QB’s that had the worst nightmares after facing the Hurricanes over their career.
A few honorable mention quarterbacks that had nightmares were Syracuse quarterback Marvin Graves was hit so hard he vomited on the sidelines after facing Miami’s 1992 defense. John Sacca from Penn State felt the wrath in the 1992 season as well. Then there was Todd Ellis of South Carolina who was body slammed out of his shoes in 1987. However those quarterbacks at least kept the ball game close.
Keithen McCant, Nebraska
Keithen McCant was the Nebraska quarterback that gave way to Tommie Frazier in Lincoln. McCant guided the Huskers to the 1992 Orange Bowl to face the top rated Miami Hurricanes and left on the wrong side of a 22-0 shutout. Miami won their fourth national title in under a decade and the Huskers lost to the ‘Canes once again.
Miami held McCant to two interceptions and the entire Husker offense to just 80 rushing yards on a wet night in downtown Miami. Nebraska was the nation’s leading rushing squad heading into the Orange Bowl. McCant was just another victim in red to the Hurricanes as Miami had defeated the Cornhuskers and Coach Tom Osborne three consecutive times including the 1984 Orange Bowl for Miami’s first national title. In McCant’s only year as the starting quarterback, he scored 20 touchdowns but couldn’t muster even a field goal against Miami’s defense.
David Klingler, Houston
David Klingler entered the Orange Bowl in 1991 as this big stud that was tearing apart the South West Conference throwing for 5,140 yards and 54 touchdowns in 1990. Klingler entered the contest hot in the Heisman Trophy balloting after beating up on small schools before facing the 2nd ranked Hurricanes. Miami prevailed in dominating fashion 40-10 and the run and shoot was dead in the water. From the Baltimore Sun article on the game, ‘“We’re the bad boys of college football,” defensive lineman Anthony Hamlet said. “Houston’s just a bunch of wannabees trying to get some recognition.”’
Klingler finished the game 32-of-59 passing for 216 yards with only 71 yards in the first half. Rusty Medearis said, “We knew we had to get in his face,” and Miami never let Klingler drop back in the pocket while eliminating his check-down screens (a sort of pre-snap RPO in the run and shoot) because Jessie Armstead was faster than the Houston slot receivers. The moral of the story was Heisman Trophy candidates got buried in the Orange Bowl back in the early 90’s.
Peter Gardere, Texas
The 1991 Cotton Bowl will forever be many Hurricanes fans favorite game. The “Miami Rules” became a topic of conversation around college football after the ‘Canes racked up over 200 yards in penalties for taunting, late hits and unsportsmanlike conduct. Miami rolled past the Texas Longhorns proving they should’ve been the national champs, not the Colorado Buffaloes or Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 1990. Miami held Peter Gardere to 7-of-16 passing for 40 yards with 3 interceptions and no touchdowns as Miami routed Texas 46-3.
The Darrin Smith pick six wasn’t even the worst part, Miami sacked Gardere eight times on the afternoon. Russell Maryland sacked Gardere three times himself and it was a performance that earned him the number one draft pick of the 1991 NFL Draft. After making the Cotton Bowl in ‘91, Gardere threw 21 touchdowns and 26 interceptions from 1991-1992 and the Longhorns posted an 11-11 overall record.
Troy Aikman, Oklahoma
Unlike the other four quarterbacks on the list who hardly put together a professional career this Troy Aikman guy bounced back well from the Hurricane nightmare the 1985 defense gave him. Aikman signed with the Sooners in 1984 and was a part-time starter during the ‘84 season. By 1985, Barry Switzer was going to phase his offense from the wishbone into a more pro style passing approach with his elite QB. However, the pro style Aikman experiment was crushed as his leg was snapped by defensive tackles Jerome Brown and Dan Sileo. Oklahoma lost the game 27-14 even though the 3rd ranked Sooners did bounce back and win the national title by the end of 1985.
Aikman transferred to UCLA to be the Bruins quarterback in a pro style attack and Jamelle Holieway was the Oklahoma starter and wishbone aficionado from 1985-1987 before injuring his knee at the end of the ‘87 season. The Sooners were 33-3 from 1985-1987 losing all three games to the Miami Hurricanes and Jimmy Johnson’s 4-3 defense. Again, Aikamn bounced back to be a three time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys and an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback. However, there’s no doubt that when Troy and Joe Buck give each other that confident nod during their broadcasts- Aikman pictures Sileo and the late great Brown and has some PTSD to the October 19th showdown in 1985.
1 Chris Rix, Florida State
Chris Rix cemented his fate as a Florida State Seminole by being a starting quarterback for four seasons from 2001-2004 under Bobby Bowden. During that era of Miami Hurricanes football, Larry Coker’s teams fielded the most talented roster ever in the history of college football in 2001. Rix had four years of looking across the field at Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Mike Rumph, Antrel Rolle, Jon Vilma, DJ Williams, William Joseph and Vince Wilfork to name a few of the legends in orange and green. Rix did throw for 8.1 yards / attempt over his career and accounted for 75 touchdowns (63 passing, 12 rushing) but he could never overcome the Miami Hurricanes.
Rix was battered around during the 2001 game as Miami beat the ‘Noles 49-27. Miami barely edged FSU in 2002 with a narrow 28-27 but Rix himself only threw for 4.4 yards per attempt. In 2003, Miami beat Rix and the Seminoles 22-14 during the season. In the 2004 Orange Bowl (for the 2003 season) Rix lost to Miami again, this time 16-14. For his fifth loss to Miami in four seasons, Rix lost to the ‘Canes in overtime 16-10 after throwing two interceptions and the FSU defense allowed a Frank Gore touchdown run in extra time.