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Miami vs. Virginia: 3 Stars

Three Canes (with a bonus pick) who shined in Charlottesville this afternoon.

NCAA Football: Miami at Virginia Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

You know, I’ll be honest. I had this one all but written as a loss and was ready to heap praise on the defense and call for the offense to hitchhike back to Coral Gables. Funny how winning changes things, although I’m obviously not thrilled with the state of the offense and some coaching decisions. That all being said, the defense was the shining star for the Miami Hurricanes today, especially the defensive line. Two players from that group stood out in particular to me (although the entire defensive front deserves a game ball, in my opinion), along with two more on offense and special teams.

1) DT Leonard Taylor

Like this one needs explaining for anyone who watched the game. Taylor was a force up the middle, bullying his way into the backfield on passing downs and blowing up any kind of inside running lanes. He tallied 4 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, including a sack on third down in the first overtime to force a field goal. THIS is the kind of game you envisioned from the 5-star recruit when he announced his commitment on CBS Sports. If he can continue this kind of production in the middle, Miami’s defense will be in position to win games even on off days, just as it was today. Taylor gets my game ball.

2) Mitchell Agude

Agude led the Canes in tackles with 7 total stops, shared a sack, and was a general pain in Armstrong’s rear end throughout the afternoon. He also had back-to-back tackles that forced a first-half three-and-out. No matter how you slice it, he was a big part of the defensive line that flat-out dominated this game.

3) Henry Parrish, Jr.

Parrish, Jr. was the best player on offense today, and by a country mile. The line blocked relatively well, and when it didn’t - or when he ran into first contact - he dragged defenders for extra yards. He ran hard on the final drive and picked up extra yardage that was key in getting past the sticks to set up the field goal that forced overtime. He’s established himself as the best back on this team by a substantial margin and showed today that he can be a difference maker on this offense.

Honorable Mention: Andres Borregales

Nothing but ice water running through this young man’s veins, as he hit kicks at the gun at the end of the first half and regulation to force overtime at 6-6, then he hit a pair of clutch kicks in overtime to keep the game going. Miami doesn’t win if he’s not 100% on his game like he was today. What a gutsy effort from Andres today.