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Matchup of the Week: Virginia Edition

The Canes finally got back in the win column with a 51-28 victory over Pitt. They will look to build a win streak with a road trip to UVA.

Miami v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

FINALLY! NO SIGHS THIS WEEK! The Canes finally got a victory with a blowout win over Pitt. The best part: THE OFFENSE WAS SPECTACULAR! THAT is what people were expecting out of the unit. Not necessrily scoring 50+ points every time (although that would be nice), but showing you are by far the most athletically superior team and using that to your advantage all day long.

Looking ahead, the Canes will win every game if they play like they did. Make no mistake about it, Pitt is a good football team. This Pitt team beat now-No. 10 Penn State, but Miami was clearly the better team, and they played like it.

Now, the Canes (5-4, 2-3 ACC) will look to become bowl eligible with a win at Virginia (2-7, 1-4). Honestly, this UVA game scares me. Not because UVA is any good, it’s the fact that Miami likes losing to UVA every other year and it’s frustrating and annoying. Granted, those teams were coached under the previous regime, but still, Miami should NEVER lose to UVA in this era.

Let’s check out the last time these teams last played:

It wasn’t the most dominating performance, but it was a victory nevertheless. But you see what I’m talking about.

Miami Secondary vs. UVA QB Kurt Benkert

I’m going to start by saying this, this isn’t necessarily going to be a glaring issue for Miami, but it will be something to watch. Miami should, and WILL succeed against Benkert (a Baltimore product) and the UVA passing attack, but there’s a reason why you play the game.

That being said, moving the ball through the air is what UVA will be trying to do. Benkert and the UVA offense average 256 passing yards per game, which is good for 43rd in the nation. For a 2-7 football team, one would say that’s pretty good. For more perspective, Miami’s offense and Brad Kaaya are averaging 263 passing yards a game.

Not saying that Benkert is as good as Kaaya, or even Kaaya is playing as poorly as Benkert, but that is the type of offense that new head coach Bronco Mendenhall likes to run. Uptempo, efficient, and moving the ball through the air.

The Canes will be dependent on two things: getting a pass rush and having lockdown coverage in the back end. Based off the prior nine games of the season, the Canes will get pass rush, especially since Benkert isn’t necessarily a burner when it comes to his legs. He has also taken 24 sacks this year, so it will be imperative and honestly fun to watch when the Canes apply pressure to the first-year starting QB.

As for the secondary, they have played pretty well if you ask me. Of course, a lot of the secondary depends on the play of the front four, but the Canes have been solid in coverage, although their turnover rate appears to be down. The secondary will also be important to watch because senior Adrian Colbert is listed as OUT for the rest of the regular season as he underwent surgery on his forearm. An already thin Canes defense continues to take hits, but their “next man up” mentality keeps them competitive and driven. Just wait until CMR and the staff adds the necessary depth and talent needed to compete for championships.

Seniors Corn Elder (CB), and safeties Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins will be heavily dependent upon, as well as sophomore corner Sheldrick Redwine. Redwine has played will this season, essentially splitting starts and snaps with Colbert opposite Colbert. I expect to see a good performance out of both of these units, especially with against a struggling UVA team this season.

Bottom line: this should be a relatively easy win for the Hurricanes. I’m saying this for two reasons. First, UVA isn’t good. They’ve played some close games, even beat a Duke team that just knocked off No. 17 UNC, but they are a few years away from being legitimately competitive in the ACC. Second, Miami is by far the better team and has a lot more experience and athleticism at key positions.

It’s also important to note that Miami hasn’t won at UVA since 2008. Yes, almost a decade ago. I don’t even want to bring up the previous two games there, but they were pathetic performances. With a new coach, a new focus, and a much better team, I expect Miami to end that drought tomorrow afternoon.

Canes 38-UVA 13