Miami-Virginia Tech Preview
Records: No. 9 Miami (2-0, 2-0 ACC); No. 11 Virginia Tech (2-1)
Coaches: Randy Shannon (14-13, third season); Frank Beamer (179-90-2, 23rd season)
When Virginia Tech Has the Ball
Virginia Tech has generally struggled to move the football. And it will not get any easier Saturday against Miami. The Hurricanes have a swarming defense with a rotation of quick defensive linemen and a heady corps of linebackers. Miami shut down Georgia Tech’s option offense for 95 rushing yards. The Hokies’ offense has only shown its ability to run the football. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has not looked crisp throwing the football, completing 47.6 percent of his passes. If the Hurricanes can stop Virginia Tech’s rushing offense and challenge the Hokies to beat them by throwing the ball, it could be a long and unhappy day for the home fans.
When Miami Has the Ball
Miami is dangerous. Under the steady direction of quarterback Jacory Harris, the Hurricanes’ offense has looked crisp and has shown a quick-strike ability in its first two games. Harris, playing with poise uncommon for a sophomore, is third in the nation in passing efficiency (184.07) and has connected with a number of targets. Harris has also been well protected; he has been sacked only once. Miami has a physical offense line and sometimes uses blocking schemes that keep seven men in protection. It will be important for Virginia Tech to keep Harris from setting his feet and feeling comfortable in the pocket. Against Miami’s multidimensional attack, Virginia Tech’s defense will likely face its most difficult challenge of the young season. Whether the Hokies can disrupt Harris and Miami’s passing offense could be a key in determining the outcome.
Beamer Ball is alive and well. The Hokies have continued to show that their special teams are as strong as ever. Punt returner Jayron Hosley has shown a special burst, ranking seventh nationally with 21 yards per return. Brent Bowden, who punted eight times against Nebraska, ranks fourth nationally in yards per punt (46.26). There is one area where Miami matches Virginia Tech: kickoff returns. Virginia Tech’s Dyrell Roberts has uncanny vision. He ranks second nationally in kickoff return yards per game (48.33). Miami’s Graig Cooper is a shifty playmaker and a threat when he is deep, ranking 12th nationally in kickoff return yards per game (34).
One of the most intriguing match ups on Saturday will be happening off of the field. It will be between Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Miami’s first-year offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple. It will be interesting to see how the two coaches scheme against each other. Foster’s defense, typically the Hokies’ backbone, is talented but has been susceptible big plays because of poor tackling. Whipple has designed a hard-to-predict offense that has maximized its talent at the skill positions. With the Hokies’ offense showing little signs of promise, Foster’s unit will likely have to come up big against Whipple and his array of weapons in order for Virginia Tech to keep it close.
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