Really excited to be writing for State of the U (I was promised by the other writers they would not go Richie Incognito on me...). I could get into who I am, where I'm from, what I like to do, but I'm sure none of you want to hear that. You are here for the same reason I am; to talk some Hurricanes sports. Each week, I'll be bringing you a breakdown of the Canes biggest match-up of the week from hoops and football. I'll even throw in some big time national match-ups once in a while. This week we are going to take a look into a match-up from the Canes' HUGE ACC Coastal match-up with Virginia Tech. For my first article, I really wanted to do a Duke Johnson versus the Virginia Tech front seven analysis, but that obviously is out of the question now (get well soon, Duke!). Instead, we will take a look at Miami's Mr. reliable, Allen Hurns, versus the recently returned from injury Antone Exum of the Hokies.
Season to Date
These players have had very different starts to the season for a number of reasons. While Hurns has enjoyed being the number one target in this Miami offense (especially after the injury to Dorsett) piling up over 30 catches for almost 600 yards, Exum is coming off his first two contests of the season after recovering from ACL surgery. It probably doesn't help his confidence much that Tech has lost both of their games since his return.
Both Hurns and Exum are above average in terms of size for their position. Hurns is (listed at) 6'3 195, and Exum is every bit of 6'1 220. This is the primary reason I believe these two will be matched up the majority of the game, as opposed to one of the Fuller brothers. As we all got to see last week against FSU and Kelvin Benjamin, you want to cover size with size. While Hurns is not going to leap over defenders a la Calvin Johnson, VT is going to want someone that can make him uncomfortable when going up for a Stephen Morris pass. Exum will use his safety sized body to disrupt Miami's leading receiver. It will be up to Morris to put the ball in places where Hurns can get it, because he is as sure handed as it gets. I'd say Hurns has the advantage here if only because of the additional height.
Separation Skills vs Cover Skills
Hurns knows how to get open. He is the veteran of not only the receiving corps but also the entire offence. He isn't going to burn his guy deep or jump over the entire defense, but he knows how to run routes and find holes in the zone. He will have to use his experience in this game, because Exum is a talented cover guy. As I stated above, Exum is still shaking off the rust a little bit. This will only be his 3rd game of the season. To be honest, I have not seen much of Exum since he has returned (I was busy with Tallahassee activities last week) but, at the very least, he is not hurting the defense that many believe is the best in the country. Despite their two losses in as many weeks, the Hokies' defense has still played extremely well. Even with their offense losing the field position battle on a regular basis by turning the ball over, VT still only gives up 17 points per game, which is good for 9th in the FBS. Their pass defense only gave up 93 passing yards in the loss to BC last week. Exum and the rest of the VT secondary are certainly nothing to mess with, so Hurns and Co. will have to be on their game.
Hurns is in a groove right now and Exum is still getting his legs under him. They both have experience, they both have size, they are both talented, but I think Hurns is crafty and smart enough to get position and win battles versus Exum. He won't go ballistic, but I think Hurns has a solid day and helps Stephen Morris out against a VT defense that is one of the best in the country. I'm not in the prediction business, but I think that this match-up will go a long way in helping the Canes pull out a victory and maintain control of the Coastal Division. We don't want our game next week to be to see if Duke or VT gets to go to Charlotte...