Normally when you feel a falling sensation, you immediately wake up from your nightmare. I haven't woken up yet, so I have to assume this free fall Miami is in is all too real. Look, we all know there is something seriously wrong with the defense, that's pretty obvious. But like I said in my article last week, we are not here to talk about what is wrong, that's been beaten to death. This week I have a bit of a double-dip for you all. First, of course, we will take a look at a match-up in the Canes game versus Virginia this Saturday, with star (that is a relative term) linebacker Denzel Perryman against Virginia leading rusher Kevin Parks. Next, we take a look at a match-up in a HUGE national game, with Baylor's on fire Quarterback Bryce Petty versus Oklahoma State corner Justin Gilbert.
Perryman vs. Parks
Look, like I said above, the defense is bad. Some people think it's the lack of talent, some think it's the coaching staff, some think it's both. Regardless, Perryman could be described one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise disappointing (I am being very kind with that word choice) season. Perryman is made in the same mold of Jonathan Vilma and DJ Williams from canes teams of the past; fast linebackers who get to the ball and have just enough size to not be considered a slow safety. He isn't going to rush the passer for you (just 1.5 sacks on the season, all against Virginia Tech) but he is going to get to the ball on running plays and pile up tackles (averaging over 10 per game his last 4 contests).
If Canes fans need a reminder that things could be worse this season, they need not look further than the opposing sideline on Saturday. Virginia is win less in ACC play and has lost seven straight overall. One of their lone bright spots is their leading rusher, Kevin Parks. Parks is your "bowling ball" type back. Low to the ground (5'8) but has plenty of bulk (205 lbs.) and has plenty of power to go with it. He's rushed for just under 800 yards and scored 10 TDs on the ground this season. He has a low center of gravity, which makes him difficult to tackle (like these guys need anything else stopping them from tackling). Perryman and Co. will have to quickly locate Parks when he gets the ball and stop him on first contact. With the speed Perryman has, getting to him early should not be the issue, but wrapping up and getting him to the ground will be pivotal. Parks has gone over 100 yards on the ground four times this season, and with how dreadful the defense has been playing, I am worried that Saturday may be his fifth. I hope I am wrong, but I fear UVA may get the better of this match-up.
Petty vs. Gilbert
You like offense? This game is going to have PLENTY of it for you. Oklahoma State has a pretty high octane attack of its own, but Baylor's offense is something to behold. To say they have been putting up video game numbers is a disservice to just how crazy their stats have been. They are averaging over 60 (that's not a typo, SIXTY) points per game and close to 700 yards of offense per game this season. That, in a word, is crazy. The maestro of this finely tuned orchestra of points is Junior quarterback Bryce Petty. Petty is not only putting up crazy numbers (3,000 passing yards and 24 TDs this season) but he is also taking care of the ball (just one interception on the year). His ability to read defenses quickly and get the ball to his receivers in space in this spread attack has been what has made Baylor so potent this year. Petty's ability to make instant decisions makes it almost impossible for defensive backs to locate the ball and try to make a play.
Speaking of defensive backs, Oklahoma State has a pretty good one by the name of Justin Gilbert. Gilbert is the total package; he has size (6'0 200) experience and athleticism. He is also a bit of a ball hawk, as he has six interceptions on the season. He is projected to be an NFL player, and OK State needs all of its best athletes to play their best if they are going to stop Petty and the Bears. It will be interesting to see the chess match that will play out between these two. Gilbert is known for jumping routes and trying to make a play on the ball, so it will be interesting to see if Petty works in any pump fakes tries to look him off. It will also be interesting to see if Petty even looks his way, as he has plenty of targets to go to on offense. While that may seem like an easy fix to a good player, cutting off half the field sounds like a win for the Cowboys in that scenario, especially for a team that likes to spread the ball around. In the end, though, I think Petty gets the better of this match-up. He and Baylor are just playing too well right now. Gilbert is a nice player, but I think Petty and the Bears pull this one out.