After an incredible finish versus Florida State for the second consecutive season, the Miami Hurricanes must quickly put that game in the rear-view mirror. Their upcoming opponent this Saturday are the Virginia Cavaliers, a team that over the years has given Miami fits.
No Hurricanes’ fan will ever forget the debacle that closed the Orange Bowl in 2007, the largest shutout loss for Miami in the glorious history of the stadium. The Hurricanes hold a 9-6 edge in the all-time series, Miami has won the last three but the teams have split the last eight games overall. This will be a tough game on the road and it will be Homecoming weekend for Virginia. Look for an electric atmosphere and a loud environment for our young signal caller N’Kosi Perry. Virginia will also be hosting some high level prospects, including three from the State of Florida
Virginia has weapons
Virginia can put up points and have some weapons on offense, they enter the game 3-2 after splitting their first two ACC contests. Quarterback Bryce Perkins has been pretty solid so far, completing over 63% of his passes with 11 touchdowns against only four interceptions. They like to get a lot of players involved, already three different players have led them in rushing through those five games. Jordan Ellis has carried for almost 500 yards for a healthy 5.7 yards per carry with six touchdowns, he has company on the outside as well.
Wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus has already put up six touchdowns on 33 receptions, including an 86-yarder. That is the third touchdown of over 80 yards in his career. Manny Diaz must have a good plan to contain him on the outside, if the pass rush can hurry Perkins then that should limit the plays over the top. Virginia is coming off a bye week, they lost 35-21 against North Carolina State in their last game September 29th.
On defense Virginia is solid as well. They give up less than 200 passing yards per game and are also respectable against the run allowing 126.2 yards, ranking 37th nationally. Miami should definitely stick with the running game and establish some tempo and rhythm for Perry. On paper Miami has the edge in talent and should be able to impose their will. A much better performance from the offensive line will be key for the freshman quarterback in a hostile environment. Penalties must be avoided, especially on early downs. Miami has been lucky to convert a lot this year from well behind the chains, but that success will be hard to maintain week to week.
Miami needs to jump out early
For Miami, the dramatic win against Florida State should serve as a real wakeup call. If they come out flat again on the road, the outcome could be much different. Special teams outside of Jeff Thomas have been an absolute disaster for the Hurricanes, an in a game that could be closer than expected hidden yardage and missed opportunities could matter.
Miami received news Saturday that wide receiver Ahmonn Richards’ football career has ended due to injury. An emotional leader for the team, his presence on and off the field and in the locker room will surely be missed.
— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) October 8, 2018
The emergence of Jeff Thomas along with tight end Brevin Jordan has given the Hurricanes offense more weapons at every level of the field. Where his predecessor Malik Rosier struggled was in the intermediary levels, his accuracy over the middle was suspect and often led to interceptions or at best incompletions. Perry can hit all of the throws into tight windows which opens up more of the playbook. Early in the game there may be some RPO along with play action and rollouts to get Perry into a groove
A key to the game for Miami will be the play of their offensive line. The law firm of Homer and Dallas have been excellent all year but have not scored at a high rate, Homer has but one rushing score and Dallas two. This could be a game where one or even both make a mark on the scoreboard, a low scoring game is a real possibility.
Maintain the Chain
On defense the Hurricanes are one of the nation’s best. Time after time they seem to make a play to either ice the game or change momentum in their favor. The Turnover Chain is magical, FSU like others tried to imitate without success. Like last year there is just something unique about what the Chain brings to the team, the fans, and of course Twitter.
— Turnover Chain (@TurnoverChain) October 8, 2018
Turnovers for Miami are like pouring gasoline on an inferno. The defense swarms and you can feel the excitement build, almost like it is inevitable. Gerald Willis, Jonathan Garvin, and Joe Jackson make up what many feel is the best defensive line in the country. The linebackers are NFL level and the scheme of Diaz seems to adapt at just the right time to make an impact. If the Chain makes multiple appearances in this one, put in on ice Canes Family.
I think Miami will start off much better this week on the road. Perry should be able to get a feel for the game early, if Miami can jump on top by a couple scores they could take the crowd out of it. Virginia will put up a fight and make some plays, but at the end Miami is simply too talented.