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X&O Preview: Virginia Cavaliers @ Miami Hurricanes 11/18

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The Cavs offense will rely on the passing game in ‘17

NCAA Football: Miami at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The #Canes take on the Cavs at home as the end of a 3-game home stand in November. Virginia’s needs a lot of work and an large graduating class leaves uncertainty in the Bronco Mendenhall era. The offense his staff brought over from BYU struggled with consistency and the defense played well against the run but looked lost in coverage. UVA’s S&P+ projection is 70th, Miami is sitting at 18.


Offense

The O-Line loses 3 of their 5 starters, the top 2 rushers are gone, as are a slew of receivers. Luckily, the QB who has a ton of air raid experience and the top 2 receivers are back in ‘17. I’m probably not going out on a limb by saying we’ll see zone lead, split zone, and an array of different passing concepts to off-set those runs. UVA may pass to set up the run. Kurt Benkert isn’t going to run. He is a strong armed 6’4 220 lbs QB from Cape Coral, FL that will look to throw short to intermediate passes and occasionally open it up down the seams.

Below- you can see what could be stick or mesh attacking the open zone. The receiver settles into open space and then shakes three tacklers into the end zone. It’s one of the slowest touchdowns on earth. If this lack of explosive talent beats Miami... yikes.

Below- Jordan Ellis, from Suwanee, GA, has played a back-up role for two years. Now looking to become the feature back, takes a split-zone 65 yards for a TD.

Below- another RB looking to get the carries is Lamont Atkins a true freshman early enrollee from Virginia. He takes a poorly blocked backside to this zone play 73 yards.


Defense

Doesn’t UVA always seem to be in the 3-4? Is this like a school-wide initiative? Al Groh used the 3-4 from 2001-2009 and it’s back for Bronco Mendenhall. Mike London ran a 4-3 defense from 2010-2015 but some how didn’t recruit a lot of D-Line guys and had an excess of LB’ers.

We all probably feel like experts of a bad 3-4 with no pass defense and limited pressure on the QB. Well, even though UVA has 2-3 studs on defense that’s what they were in 2016. Linebacker Micah Kiser and Safety Quin Blanding could be top 50 NFL Draft picks in 2017, but can Bronco get the entire defense up to speed? Miami’s speed in Richards, Herndon, and Walton should overwhelm the Hoos.

Improved run defense, but Miami should open lanes against this 3-4 defense.

How do you exploit a 3-4? Abuse the 4-techniques (the DL lined up over the OT), have a back that will cut off the 2-gapping DL which is a slower read and react technique for the D-Line to play, and if you can pick up blitzes you can usually find passing lanes against it with slower inside linebackers.

Watch OSU pick on Oregon’s 3-4 from a few years back:


For a better look into the UVA O and D, check out this video: