A few minutes after Miami junior tailback Duke Johnson finished destroying his defense Thursday night, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was asked if Johnson was the best running back he had seen this season.
"Not only all season," said Beamer, 68, who has been the Hokies' coach since 1987. "Forever."
Johnson (5-foot-9, 206 pounds) had the most productive game of his career as the Hurricanes blasted Virginia Tech, 30-6. He had touches on each of Miami's first seven plays from scrimmage and rushed for 249 yards and a TD as the Hurricanes embarrassed the host Hokies.
It was the first 200-yard game of Johnson's career and it boosted him above the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time ever. He now has 1,036 yards this season, marking just the ninth time in school history a back has reached 1,000 yards; the most recent was Lamar Miller, in 2011. Miami's single-season rushing record is 1,753 yards by Willis McGahee in 2002; second-most in a season is Edgerrin James' 1,416 in 1998, and Johnson looks to have a legit shot at passing James.
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote over the summer that Johnson is "the most talented runner to play at 'The U' since Frank Gore (and) has a game that's already ready-made for the pros." Gore's single-season high at Miami was 945 yards as a junior in 2004.
Johnson's previous high for a season was 947 as a true freshman in 2012; he rushed for 920 yards last season, when he missed the final five games with a broken leg.
Thursday night's performance was his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, and he has rushed for 666 yards and four TDs during that span.
Johnson also had two receptions for 37 yards and a TD; the touchdown catch came on the final play of the first half and sent UM (5-3) into the locker room with a 24-0 lead, which was insurmountable considering the ineptitude of Virginia Tech's offense. The Hokies (4-4) finished with 262 yards, but just 36 -- including minus-13 on the ground -- came in the first half. To compound matters, the Hokies fumbled to end each of their first three second-half drives.
The Hokies' defense didn't fare much better. UM rushed for 364 yards, the most ever against a Frank Beamer-coached team.