Before the Hurricanes took to the field at Hard Rock Stadium, the team had already locked up the ACC Coastal division for the first time in program history. Meaning, the Hurricanes are destined to meet the Clemson Tigers December 2nd for the ACC Championship.
In the meantime, Miami hosts Virginia Saturday in what will be senior day, along with the final regular season home game for the Hurricanes who have tangible playoff aspirations. The Cavaliers are the next obstacle in the pursuit of perfection for the Hurricanes.
One vs. One Matchup
WR Andre Levrone vs. Miami’s Cornerbacks
Another week, another opposing wide receiver to preview. The Cavaliers have two senior wideouts, yet we’re going to focus on Andre Levrone. Able to navigate his way through defensive secondaries, Levrone hauls in passes over his shoulder, between defenders, or going over defensive backs to make the catch. So far this season, Levrone has 27 receptions, 566 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. This will be Levrone’s first game against Miami since his freshman season in 2014, after games against UM the past two seasons. Scouts would not describe the Maryland native as fleet of foot, given his lack of separation speed from defenders, but Levrone has one of the more reliable sets of hands for the Cavs.
We copped out this week by naming a position group instead of the single player. However, the Cavaliers will line up their receivers in various formations. Whether Levrone draws CB Malek Young or CB Michael Jackson, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the senior. Michael Jackson alone, has four ‘Turnover Chain’ appearances to go along with his four interceptions. Against Notre Dame, Miami had five pass breakups. The world needs more chain, and these Miami corners have the talent to stymie Levrone and the rest of Virginia’s receiving corp.
Miami Wide Receivers vs. Virginia Defensive Secondary
It’s fitting on senior day this Saturday that the leading wide receiver for the Hurricanes is the wise and talented WR Braxton Berrios. Scoring a touchdown in all but two games this season, Berrios has been a man unleashed all season. Showing that underclassmen can bring that fire as well, WR Jeff Thomas has made huge strides in the past couple weeks. Possessing the speed of a Ferrari, the freshman wide receiver is learning to work short and intermediate routes, as well as those long bombs to capitalize on his athleticism. If that wasn’t enough, Lawrence Cager returned to the field last week, flashing a glimpse of potential when he ‘mossed’ a Notre Dame defender a week ago.
The Cavaliers have a veteran group working in the secondary. Senior DB Quin Blanding has three interceptions so far this season. CB Juan Thornhill is second in the ACC in pass break ups. UVA is led by freshman DB Brenton Nelson, who leads the team with four interceptions. While Miami has drawn national attention for producing turnovers thanks to a certain braggadocious piece of jewelry, the Cavaliers 12 interceptions on defense is just four behind Miami’s 16 for the top spot in the ACC.
ProCanes Players to Watch
This week’s ProCanes Players to Watch who could single-handedly impact the outcome of the game will start with QB Kurt Benkert. In an October poll of anonymous NFL executives, NFL Network Media Analyst Daniel Jeremiah received numerous praise for the Cavalier pivot who has the arm to make all the throws, poise to make the correct read, and athleticism to make a play out of nothing. Benkert is tied with Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson for the lead in ACC passing touchdowns with 21. With an average of 40 pass attempts per game, there will be ample opportunity to swag out with the Cuban links of the ‘Turnover Chain’. However, Benkert provides an intriguing challenge to Miami, if anything more versatile than what we saw a week ago.
RB/WR Deejay Dallas has provided an added dimension to Miami’s offense. Each week he gains more confidence, knowledge, and yardage than the previous week. Whether lining up in the backfield as a running back or handling the snap in a wildcat formation, Dallas has gained traction with the offense as of late. With six carries for 32 rushing yards against Virginia Tech, followed by 12 carries for 53 yards against Notre Dame. We really don’t know what more the freshman can do, the more he touches the ball, the better idea we get of his potential.
Earlier in the article, we discussed how the Cavs have a pair of seniors at receiver in Andre Levrone and Dani Dowling. However, the leading receiver for Virginia this season actually splits time in backfield. RB Olamide Zaccheaus leads the Cavs with 70 receptions and 727 receiving yards. He also has four touchdown receptions to his one touchdown run. Zaccheaus has 22 carries this season and caught seven touchdowns for UVA in 2016. While he is designated as a halfback on the team website, he lines up as a slot wide receiver fairly often.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!