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Game Preview - Virginia at Miami: All eye's on D

As Miami tries to salvage a once promising season, 26 seniors will take the field for the last time in front of the home crowd. WIll UM stop their losing streak to Virginia? Will the switches to the defensive depth chart yield positive results? If so, will it be enough to satisfy a blood thirsty fan base?

yeah, that seems about right.
yeah, that seems about right.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

History: It's not a long history with Virginia, but it is one us UM fans would all like to forget. The all-time series is tied at five a piece, with UV winning the last three. For those keeping track, that's two-three game losing streaks Miami (7-3) is trying to stop on Saturday. Virginia(2-8) is coming in with their own losing streak - dropping seven in a row. The two teams' first game was in 1996, but started their yearly affair in 2004. The one game that stands out from the rest is their 2007 match up. You may remember it as the last home game at the Orange Bowl. Look it up if you want, but I already ruined my night typing this. Just know it makes losing to Duke last week seem like no big deal. Last year's game was a shootout (much like every game last year), with Virginia passing for 388 yards and beating UM 41- 40.

How they match up: Miami has a clear advantage offensively averaging about 90 more yards a game and 14 more points. But let's face it; it's Miami's defense that will be under the microscope this week. That being said, Virginia seems to be a bit more dangerous running the ball. UV has 16 rushing TDs on the season, while only having eight passing. Now I say that - aware that they have only 2 wins on the season, and one of those was against VMI. Miami is a near 20 point favorite; but honestly do you feel like a 20 point favorite?

Virginia: Kevin Parks is their top running back with 184 carries for 796 yards and 10 rushing TDs. He's had a few 100 yard rushing games this season and is pretty good catching the ball out of the back field. As he goes so does the rush game. The next leading rusher has 267 yards on 140 less attempts. After last week, it is important to know that UV's QB has 88 rushing attempts; they only resulted in 125 yards, but he does have 3 TDs.

Miami should only have to deal with one QB this week. David Watford has thrown for just under 2,000 yards this year, with 7TDS and 12INTS. Watford averages just 5.2 YPC at a 58% completion percentage. He definitely spreads the ball around to his WRs, with four players having 300 yards or more. Their leading pass catcher is TE Jake McGee and he has 36 receptions. The team has eight players with 17 or more receptions. Out of those eight, only two have more than one TD; and combined the receiving core only have a total of eight TDs.

UV's defense ranks 78th overall and is a bit stronger defending the pass. While not the strongest as a group, they have a few play makers that can spoil UM's senior day.  Anthony Harris has 7 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 6 pass break ups, and also blocked a kick. Eli Harold leads the team with 5.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. They have 5 interceptions as a team in the last four games. They also have 3 blocked kicks this season.

Miami: This is it for Stephen Morris at Sun LIfe. He leads his mash unit offense to the field one last time, and will be looking to pass it to fellow senior Allan Hurns. Miami is coming off of a decent offensive game last week when you take all of the injuries into account. It involved a lot more short passes and a good mix between the run and pass.  It was the 2nd highest TOP total UM has had this year (Savannah ST was 1st), but they settled for FGs in a few spots when they needed touchdowns. Dallas got back on track, which is a good sign for this week, with UV giving up a little over 180 yards a game. Eduardo Clements will also be playing in his last game at home, so hopefully he can get a few carries as well. WR Stacy Coley will be back after missing the second half of last week's game with 'concussion like' symptoms. Herb Waters will also be ready to go after getting a bit nicked up last week.

It's not the offense people are concerned with though. How will this defense bounce back? By popular demand there have been a few changes to the depth chart, with the main switch being DE Tyriq Mccord getting some time at OLB. They are looking to get him on the field on first and second downs, after spending the rest of the year as a third down pass rusher. Some other new names on the depth chart are Earl Moore (who is set to spell DT Curtis Porter), and freshman safety  Jamal Carter. Carter is third behind Jenkins and Rodgers at safety, so it will be interesting to see how he plays if he gets in.

Another story line in UM's defensive soap opera is transfer DT Justin Renfrow going up against his old team. He spoke of  being happy that he was treated fairly here at Miami; and eluded that he was finally getting the playing time he deserved. He's been arguably UM's most important DL player, so I'm not sure what that says about Virginia (or Miami for that matter).

Will the slight changes help the back-sliding defense? I don't know; but when Miami had a pass rush, McCord was usually involved, so having him on the field more can't hurt, right? Will an impressive performance be enough to quiet the roaring mob calling for change? Virginia doesn't appear to be a real threat but they do have a running back that could cause problems. That being said, it's pretty much a no win situation. It will either be "well, it was only Virginia" or "well look at what Virginia was able to do." But at this point, a win is a win - and it keeps the hopes of a 10 win season alive.

Issues with the defense aside, it will be Shayon Green's last time playing in Miami. Injury wise, not a lot of players have been through more in a college career than Green. He's fought back every time -  so while yes, the defense needs to improve - Green deserves praise for all that he's given.

Who to watch: For Virginia it's RB Kevin Parks, last week UM didn't have an answer for Dukes run game so stopping him early will do wonders for... everyone. He's their leading rusher and is tied for second on the team in receiving yards so yeah he's their player to stop. On defense it's Anthony Harris. A way UM can lose this game is turnovers, he has created plenty of them. No one, Morris included wants a three interception game as a home finale. All in favor of staying away from Harris raise their hand. Ok.

Who to watch: For MIami it's Stacy Coley. Whether it's special teams or at WR Coley is UMs most explosive player still on the field. The offense missed him last week when he went down. Can they put up points without him? Yes, but it will be a lot easier and more fun with him. On defense it will be how Mccord performs with more playing time. Hopefully his athleticism will fill the void the defense has been missing? 29 seniors will be taking the field for the last time Saturday, some names like Morris, Hurns, and,  Linder you know. Some like Kelly and McNeil, you may not know. They have all dedicated a lot to the team we follow so a thank you goes out to all of them.

Should you worry: Yes, UV isn't all that great this year but you have been watching the last few weeks, right?

Prediction: UM 42 UV 17... or UM 20 UV 36




Phillip Dorsett – lower extremity

Artie Burns – lower extremity

Alex Figueroa – upper extremity

Surgery/Out for Season

Randy "Duke" Johnson – lower extremity

Hunter Knighton – lower extremity

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