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Cavaliers in need of big effort from pass rush against Miami

Virginia Coach Mike London knows as well as anyone that Miami junior quarterback Jacory Harris can be forced into making bad passing decisions. Five of Harris's 10 interceptions this season have come in the Hurricanes' two losses. But in order to put pressure on Harris, London also knows he'll need sound coverage from his team's secondary and dogged effort from the Cavaliers' pass rush.

At this point, the latter is much more of a question mark than is the former. Virginia is tied for No. 10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in sacks (nine), and that does not bode well against a Miami offense that has allowed fewer sacks (eight) than all but one league team.

Harris ranks third in the conference in pass attempts, so there will be abundant opportunities for Miami to attempt to strike and for Virginia to attempt to pressure the pocket. During his segment Wednesday on the ACC coaches' teleconference, London sarcastically suggested the Cavaliers rush 12 defenders at Harris on Saturday. Then he delved more seriously into what makes the Hurricanes' attack so potent.

"The thing is, (Harris) has got an arsenal of receivers that he can throw the ball to," London said. "As a matter of fact, he's got running backs that are in the backfield that he can hand off to and throw the ball to. You just have to play good coverage, and the pass rush is going to have to help us out here also, because you can't just guard a guy all day long.

"Jacory is a tall athlete, and the thing about him is he's not afraid to throw the ball up. There's a risk-reward. If he throws the ball up, he's got some go-to guys, some go-to receivers that can get it done, in (Leonard) Hankerson and (Damien) Berry. And maybe sometimes that might present an opportunity for a defender to make a play on the ball for an interception. But I tell you what, the guys that he has that he's throwing to, they do a nice job of putting points on the board and providing big plays."

Harris -- listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds -- has completed more than 20 passes each to Hankerson (38), Travis Benjamin (22) and LaRon Byrd (21) this season. Berry, a tailback, has recorded nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Hankerson -- who leads the ACC in receiving touchdowns with eight -- and Benjamin are both averaging more than 15.5 yards per reception, which ranks them in the top 10 in the conference in that category.

By Steve Yanda  | October 28, 2010; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: 'Several scenarios' in place for how Virginia offensive line will shake out Saturday

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