The Miami Hurricanes are ranked as high as 3 in some polls coming off their beatdown of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Miami is ranked only 9th in the S&P+ rankings from Bill C but the Virginia Cavaliers are a lowly 67th in the S&P+ with a 6-4 overall record. Our beloved ‘Canes are undefeated and three wins away from the College Football Playoff.
Miami will need the offense to stay consistent and balanced against UVA’s 3-4 defense. UVA’s defense is ranked 44th in the S&P+ which is higher than many expect but Bronco Mendenhall is a defensive minded, hard nosed head coach.
Here are a few key parts to examine headed into what should be a blowout in favor of Miami.
Louisville Inside Zone Read versus UVA’s 3-4 Defense
The UVA 3-4 defense was brought back to life by Bronco Mendenhall. The Cavaliers ran the 3-4 under Al Groh but went away from it during the Mike London era. The 3-4 is back and Bronco has shown some of the same weaknesses that Mark D’Onofrio showed here in Miami with his 3-4 defense.
Above- the defense doesn’t adjust pre-snap to the two wings to the top of the formation that make a trip look for the defense when inspecting it for their pass defense. Unless that stand up defensive end is a heck of an athlete, he’s going to be sucked up and the two wings could get outside of him easily or just run vertical and beat him deep.
When it comes to the run, they’re susceptible of being out numbered at the point of attack, but also that Nose Tackle shows horrible technique which is an easy tell that he’s going to twist on the line. When Lamar Jackson pulls the football the UVA defense is hardly in position to slow him down. Some how they’re unable to over load the two wing’s side and unable to stop a read pull from Jackson. Miami fans know this pain too well from the 3-4 defense.
Louisville Pass Rush
The Miami Hurricanes are second in the NCAA in sacks for a defense. They have 33 on the year and 3.6 per game. That’s an impressive feat for a defense that couldn’t get to the quarterback less than two years ago. Louisville, which is ranked in 61st in sacks averages 2.1 sacks per game yet they got to Kurt Benkert three times in the first half alone. If the Cardinals can get to Benkert with ease then the Hurricanes are about to make it another long night for a quarterback.
In the ‘Canes heyday they ruined the seasons of quarterbacks like Troy Aikman by breaking his leg, and David Klingler by breaking his spirit. Miami got to quarterbacks and tossed them around like rag dolls (ex. Todd Ellis, South Carolina). Then for years Miami failed to have that sort of impact on defense.
Now under Manny Diaz, Miami is back to being Miami. They’re abusing quarterbacks, breaking the opposing offense’s will, forcing them out of their scheme and game plan and are undefeated.
UVA’s Interception Against Louisville
The pass rush got to UVA, this time it wasn’t a strip-sack but instead a little ghost pressure and an interception off the tip drill. UVA had to use a Tight End to slow down the pass rush, getting 6 to block 5. Louisville brings pressure with a blitzer up the middle and while it’s picked up, the rush from the bottom of the screen against the left tackle forces Benkert to get rid of the football.
He has the running back open in the flat and on 2nd and 10 that’s a good safe throw to get into 3rd and short. However, he throws a deeper post over a defender, it’s high, tipped, and intercepted. If Louisville is producing this sort of pressure and causes one turnover against the ‘Hoos, Miami will break out the turnover chain at least four times against UVA and record four sacks.
Miami hosts UVA on November 18th at noon eastern for senior day. Seniors that gave it all under Al Golden and now Mark Richt will be honored. Those names include many players fans and pundits felt were lost causes like KC McDermott (me) and Braxton Berrios (everyone else). If you can come out and represent please do represent for the guys that have knocked off FSU and Notre Dame in the same season, something Miami hadn’t done since 1989.