Thursday, October 28, 2010

game preview: Miami

Date/Time: October 30; 12:00 PM


History against the Hurricanes: 2-5

Last matchup: Miami 52, UVA 17; 11/7/09

Last week: UVA 48, EMU 21; Miami 33, UNC 10

Line: Miami by 15

Opposing blogs: The 7th Floor

Uniform combination: beats me, but for the first time this year it'll be something you've seen before unless the team takes the annoy-me-greatly route and wears white jerseys

You May Also Want To See, Because You Probably Won't On Saturday: Closing out the OB

Injury report:


WR Tim Smith
TE Joe Torchia


CB Chris Broadnax


OT Landon Bradley


CB Ras-I Dowling
RB Raynard Horne
WR Dontrelle Inman
OL Morgan Moses

Miami season preview here.

It'd be nice not to have this game right away after the Eastern game. There's something about a winning streak (or the chance to have one) that would've been appealing. Miami just out-talents UVA. But UVA is going to have to find a way to keep this one competitive. It's a biggish recruiting weekend with a number of visits of the official and unofficial variety taking place. From the information freely available, DE Horace Arkadie and WR Demetri Knowles will be in, along with two of the absolute most important targets, Demetrious Nicholson and Travis Hughes. Plus a number of current commits and a couple other names that are behind paywalls. Nicholson and Hughes alone would make this a big deal.


- Just be competitive and give the fans a reason not to leave. This game isn't even all about what goes in the win/loss column. Hughes and Nicholson are two of the biggest fish on that recruiting board, and this is the second-to-last home game of the year and possibly the last on real national TV. This team needs a major talent infusion, and making a competitive statement against Miami would go a long way toward that goal. That in itself would be a win. For the future. Think of the children.

- Step in front of things thrown by Jacory Harris. The most INT-prone quarterback UVA has yet seen this year comes to town this week. Harris is still a very dangerous quarterback, but he had a little bit of a wrong-color-jersey problem last year and he's shown so far that he hasn't fixed it. It's the one that that's really limiting him and the Miami offense. Further, Miami is the hardest team in the country against which to move the ball through the air. They have the lowest opposition QB rating, have intercepted 14 passes against three allowed touchdowns, and allow just 5.7 yards per pass play. You can't repeatedly sustain long scoring drives against a defense that stingy; you have to give yourself short fields. This is exactly the formula that Ohio State used to beat the Canes: pick off Harris, go 25 yards for the score instead of 75.

- Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. It'll result in plenty of punts, but punting from 4th and 3 is a lot better than getting picked off. Punting is one area where UVA can match Miami step for step; the Canes' Matt Bosher is belting the ball this year, but so is Jimmy Howell, and their return game isn't much better than ours, either. The play-calling should favor the run so as to give Marc Verica very little opportunity to make a facepalm-inducing heave somewhere; when in doubt, run and don't pass. When it's 2nd or 3rd-and-short, just pick up the first down and don't do crazy things. When it's 3rd-and-too-damn-long, discretion is the better part of valor; better a run that gives a slight field-position boost than a high-risk pass. This is the sort of fraidy-cat playcalling that's usually pretty unpopular with the fans, but in this case there's a perfect storm brewing that has potential to leave at least three and possibly more Marc Verica interceptions in its wake. I'm OK this week with avoiding that.


- Miami steps in front of things thrown by Marc Verica. As I've alluded to, Miami's amazing pass defense + Verica's penchant for interceptions = Bad. This is a scary matchup and I don't need to tell you what happens when Verica throws a lot of picks. It's bad for the scoreboard but even worse for the recruiting weekend.

- Fail to stop the run game. Which unfortunately has been the big problem. Miami already has an excellent set of receivers and a quarterback that runs hot and cold, but more hot. Let their running backs have a big day the way UVA couldn't stop the run against EMU and there won't be much in the way between Miami and a blowout.

- Do everything I say and get out-talented anyway. Frankly, Miami is the kind of good team and UVA is the kind of bad one where you can execute the game plan to perfection and still find yourself 14 points down at the end. The O-line is in flux and the defense is doing that thing where they make the ballcarrier look like an untippable sippy cup. It'll take more than just good execution to win. It'll take some mistakes from Miami.


The realistic best case is a close loss, but there's plenty of potential for something really embarrassing, too. Miami's defensive strength (the ability to shut down the pass and pick off opposing quarterbacks) matches up like a jigsaw piece with our major offensive weakness (Verica's frequent visits to Dumbinterceptionland), and that together matches up with the nightmare recruiting scenario: Verica pulled in the third quarter to a rousing chorus of boos from what remains of an angry crowd. If this happens I'm dropping every visitor at this game to red on the recruiting board.

But the saving grace here is that Miami hasn't been very impressive on the road. Harris' 4 picks against Ohio State, fighting off a spirited comeback attempt by Clemson, and a really blah offensive effort resulting in a 28-13 win at Duke. Only in the Pitt game did Miami really flash its dominance on the road. If they're capable of an even worse effort than the Duke one (though even then, they forced seven turnovers, five of which were interceptions) and if UVA comes out really fired up from start to finish.....well, these are big ifs. I don't usually give a score prediction, but I'll give one here to illustrate where on the spectrum between "moral victory" and "last year's 52-17 faceplant" we'll probably see here: Canes 38, UVA 17.


NC State 28, FSU 24 on Thursday (HA I am vindicated for keeping the Wolfies in my poll ballot)

Clemson @ Boston College, 12:00
Duke @ Navy, 3:30
Wake Forest @ Maryland, 3:30
North Carolina vs. William & Mary, 3:30

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