October has not gone as planned for the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes are 0-2 in the month thus far, losing to both Cincinnati and Florida State on the road on prime-time television. Saturday's game will give Miami a chance to regroup at home and look for a win against a Tech squad who has been bitten by the injury bug.
Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1 ACC) is without All-American defensive back Kendall Fuller, who was lost for the season due to a knee injury. VT has also been without their staring QB, Michael Brewer, due to an injury on his non-throwing shoulder suffered against Ohio St. Backup QB Brenden Motley has been serviceable in Brewer's absence, throwing for 1,019 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Motley's favorite target, Florida native Isaiah Ford, has hauled in 28 receptions for 421 yards and six touchdowns, leading the ACC in the latter. Here is what happened the last time these two teams squared off:
Duke Johnson, man...
Miami dominated VT in every facet of the game. The defense kept the VT offense in check the entire game, and the offensive line absolutely mauled the Tech defense, allowing Duke Johnson to rush for a career high 249 yards. Then-freshman Brad Kaaya looked decent with a minimal role in a hostile environment in Blacksburg, VA, making timely throws when needed the most. Miami will have to replicate some of their success last season, as VT is amongst one of the best pass defenses in the country.
Miami Defense vs. Brenden Motley/Michael Brewer
Miami will have prepare for two QBs for Saturday, and will face either Michael Brewer or Brenden Motley, or potentially both. Let's take a look at what each bring to the table.
Motley has played in all six games for VT this season, including the opener, when he filled in for injured Michael Brewer. So far this season, Motley is more of a dual-threat QB than Brewer, but does do most of his damage with his arm. He has done a decent job filling in for Brewer and is among the conference leaders in touchdowns. On top of his passing stats, Motley has rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns. He is only completing 55.7 percent of his passes, and has been sacked 13 times already this season.
Brewer, on the other hand, is more of a drop-back QB who will do the majority of his damage from the pocket. In his lone game-action in 2015, Brewer is 11-16 (68.8 percent) for 156 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions - this all against the defending national champion. Last season, Brewer never really seemed to grasp the VT offense, throwing for 2,692 yards, 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and was sacked an astounding 32 times. Miami was successful against Brewer because they got constant pressure on Brewer and controlled the VT run game. Miami's defense suffocated Brewer so much that he eventually got benched for Mark Leal.
The best matchup for the Miami defense will be against Michael Brewer. With Brewer in at QB, the Miami defensive line will be able to pin their ears back and attack Brewer without the threat of him running. The Canes had great success last year, and there is no evidence that shows that cannot replicate their success defensively.
In any situation, Miami has to be the aggressor. The defense seems to play better and more fierce in the first and second levels when they choose to play and aggressive scheme. Players like Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas will need to have strong performances similar to how they played against FSU and create havoc up front, especially against a lesser talented offensive line that is Virginia Tech's.
Brad Kaaya vs. Virginia Tech Secondary
Bonus matchup!!! This extra portion is influenced by the Hokies excellent pass defense this season. VT is currently 11th in the country in passing yards allowed, only giving up an average of 150.5 yards per game through the air. The defense is T-39th in total defense due to them giving up 190.7 yards per game on the ground, good for 97th in the nation.
Kaaya and the Miami passing attack is coming off an extraordinary performance against No. 11 FSU, who has one of the more talented secondary's in the country. Kaaya is coming off a 405 yard, three touchdown-performance against FSU and is looking to stay hot against another pesky pass defense. VT is without All-ACC DB Kendal Fuller, but still remains one of the best pass defenses in the country. Brad Kaaya is averaging nearly 300 yards per game through the air to go along with eight touchdowns to just one interception. Something has got to give. Kaaya has a plethora of receivers who can be difference-makers against VT, but look for senior Rashawn Scott to have a big day, as well as sophomore Braxton Berrios, who has recently come back from a knee injury suffered early in the season.
Another player to keep an eye on is receiver Stacy Coley, who is battling a hip injury suffered against FSU. Coley had a career-game vs. the Seminoles, hauling in seven receptions for 139 yards, including this acrobatic grab for a touchdown.
Miami is desparate for a win against Virginia Tech. The Canes will have to come out firing on all cylinders and put this VT team down early. And once they get them down, keep them down. Virginia Tech looks relatively average from the eye test, and Miami should be too fast for VT to handle. The aggressive approach against VT works and there is no reason why Miami should be any less aggressive than last season.
In order for the Canes to be successful, Miami has to establish the run. They abandoned the run game vs. Florida State, and rightfully so. On Saturday, Miami has to get the run game going early in order to keep Kaaya clean and allow him to have an effective and efficient game. This game SHOULD be a win for Miami, as for a score? Miami-34, VT-20