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Smith had three tackles for loss and two sacks against Pitt. Already, the Hurricanes have posted 34 tackles for loss as a team, the highest total so far in the nation. And maybe the best of the Miami defensive bunch so far as been Spence, the linebacker who had nine more tackles against Pitt, giving him 24 for the season _ his best start in his three years at Miami.

“That’s Sean, man,” said cornerback Ryan Hill, who had an interception in Thursday’s win. “That guy, I hear a lot of guys say he’s undersized. To be what he is, he has a knack for the ball.”

There’s a lot of Hurricanes with that knack so far this season.

The last time Miami held two of its first three opponents to three points or less was 1989, when the Hurricanes went on to win their third national championship. Miami’s defense is off to a better start, at least in terms of yards allowed, than any team in the ACC. And going into the weekend, only three schools _ Alabama, Oregon and Rutgers _ have given up fewer touchdowns than Miami’s three.

“We know we’ve got a lot to work on,” Shannon said. “We can get better.”