It’s not every day that the Miami Hurricanes enter their home stadium as the underdogs.
For decades, Miami has been a program that has either talked the talk and/or walk the walk. They were either a great team or at least looked the part physically. However, Friday’s 17-9 win over No. 20 Virginia felt like a win for the little guys.
Jimmy Murphy tackles the UVA punt returner before he could even think about running with the ball and the crowd goes wild. Listed at 5-7, Murphy is the shortest player on the team and is the only player on the Hurricanes with shoulder pads sticking out of the jersey.
Redshirt sophomore Turner Davidson entered the game as the new place kicker and converts two extra points and his only field goal. It was first collegiate game and it came after sophomore Bubba Baxa spent the entire previous season and the first five games of this season as the primary kicker.
“For Turner Davidson to come in and make the PATs and make that field goal in a very clutch time in the game during the fourth quarter was a huge shot in the arm to our football team,” Miami head coach Diaz said. “So, again, something that all three phases can be very proud of. It’s a very happy locker room right now as you can imagine. Now, we maybe have a little bit of momentum that we can kick on for the rest of our season.”
Davidson’s entrance into his first career collegiate game was a surprise to everyone. Listed at 5-9, 155 lbs, Davidson is the lightest player on the roster. He appeared amongst his teammates on the field like that scrawny college student in the recent NFL Sunday Ticket commercial featuring Patrick Mahomes.
“You know what’s funny? I obviously know who he is, but I didn’t know he was kicking until I got in the locker room,” wide receiver K.J. Osborn said. “I didn’t know. We were in the locker room and coach [Manny] Diaz said, ‘Special teams,’ and then they held up Turner. I looked around and said, ‘What did Turner do?’ And they were like, ‘He was kicking field goals,’ and I was like, ‘Oh.’ I didn’t even know.”
“I don’t either,” Diaz joked. “He just ran on the field during pregame and started knocking some in, and we said, Hey, here we go.”
Davidson said his approach was simply, “Don’t miss.” As simple and dead pan as it sounds, he took it to heart and made every kick.
Diaz said the decision to put Davidson on short field goals and extra points is how he looked during warmups compared to Baxa, who missed four field goals and two extra points this season.
“We let it kind of go down to warm-ups and he just had a better warm-up than Bubba and that doesn’t mean that’s a permanent move or whatever, but we just felt like from a pure evaluating who was making the kicks that he was the guy,” Diaz said. “He was without a doubt the better guy in the warm-up.”
While the big guys usually get the love in Miami, and deservedly so defensively, Friday night’s upset belongs to the little guys.