Miami and Virginia Tech, this once-great ACC rivalry gave you names like Michael Vick, Willis McGahee, Ed Reed and DeAngelo Hall. It gave you moments like Miami’s 56-45 victory in 2002, when the Hurricanes punched a ticket to a second-straight national championship game. Even last season, where Miami downed the Hokies in a primetime game at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Canes clinched their first Coastal division championship.
Now in 2018, Miami goes to Blacksburg on Saturday where a 5-5 Hurricane team, losers of four-straight will do battle with a 4-5 Virginia Tech squad, who have dropped their last three games.
Back in August, and even mid-September, we all thought that this game would determine the Coastal division, and now both teams meet with dire hopes to just make it to a bowl game.
N’KOSI PERRY AND THE OFFENSE
Perry started against Georgia Tech last weekend in a loss, and definitely had his highs and lows. Perry engineered a scoring drive to open the game, then a 95-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Though, a fumble and missed throws is what most people took out of his performance in the 27-21 Miami loss.
“He put the team on his back” - Dee Wiggins on N’Kosi Perry leading Miami to a 15-play, 95-yard drive pic.twitter.com/HerV826CA8— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) November 14, 2018
Their 21-point-performance against Georgia Tech was the Canes largest offensive-output since the Florida State game in early October, and it looks as if Perry will be leading the Miami offense for the remainder of the season. Something Miami will look to repeat is getting the ball to star-receiver Jeff Thomas, who finished with six catches and 84 yards last week.
Richt says he saw a different guy in N’Kosi Perry at Georgia Tech than he did earlier in the season. Believes Perry is turning the corner.— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) November 13, 2018
Spreading the ball around to receiver Mike Harley and tight-end Brevin Jordan is something the Hurricanes will also look to develop, neither player recorded a catch last week. Perry and Jordan have already connected on four touchdowns throughout the season.
Miami will look to improve on their turnovers, as they fumbled the ball away three times against the Yellow Jackets.
STATS TO KNOW: Miami is averaging just 15 points-a-game during their four-game losing-streak.
POOR HURRICANES DEFENSE
The Miami defense has been rock-solid all season. Manny Diaz’s unit currently ranks fourth in total defense, and has had to suffer through 2018 with a sub-par offense.
However, last week they weren’t able to get the Georgia Tech offense off-the-field late in the fourth quarter, which cost the Hurricanes offense the chance to go win the game. They also allowed the Yellow Jackets to convert over 50% of their third-downs.
Still, it remains to be the strongest point of this Miami team, and the reason why they’re still getting positive recognition throughout the nation.
Most notably the Hurricanes defensive front with Gerald Willis III, Jonathan Garvin and Joe Jackson will likely give the Hokies the biggest fit, as they’ve combined for 36.5 TFL’s.
STATS TO KNOW: The Hurricanes defense has 20 turnovers so far this season, they had 27 at this point of the year in 2017.
HOKIES PASSING OFFENSE
Even in a three-game losing streak, some positive things have come out of the Hokies, namely their quarterback, Ryan Willis. The junior under-center has filled in for injured QB Josh Jackson, and has thrown 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
In the past two games against Boston College and Pitt, Willis has tossed six touchdowns and completed over 60-percent of his passes. Two of those touchdowns went to Damon Hazelton Jr, who leads the Hokies in receiving.
Damon Hazelton has a touchdown reception in 8 out of 9 #Hokies games.— Matej Sis (@MatejS247) November 10, 2018
Willis is going up against the Hurricanes pass defense which ranks second in the country, allowing just three touchdown passes over the past four games. Though, Miami has snagged only two interceptions in the last three games.
STATS TO KNOW: Hazelton’s eight touchdown receptions this season leads the ACC.
STRUGGLING HOKIES DEFENSE
When you think of Va Tech, you think of a team that has a solid defense, but this ain’t that year, folks. This Hokies squad is a team defensively that has seen much better days. I mean, they had Pitt drop 52 points on them last week.
In four of their last-five games, they’ve allowed over 400 yards of total offense, and Pitt nearly reached 700-yards last week.
More shocking is their horrendous run-defense. Both Pitt and Georgia Tech ran the ball for over 400 yards against the Hokies. If Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas can’t have a field-day against this defense, then the Canes are even more of a train wreck than we thought.
STATS TO KNOW: Pitt averaged 13.9 yards per-offensive-play against Virginia Tech.
Interestingly enough, Virginia Tech is probably the worst team that the Hurricanes have faced ever since they began this four-game losing-streak. This is a struggling and bleeding Hokies team that the Hurricanes should beat.
Should is the word though. Miami SHOULD be 9-1 at this point of the season, but they’re not. Saturday is a battle of two once-proud programs that have had a nightmare of a year, and now the Hurricanes are just trying to become bowl eligible.
It’s a 3:30 kickoff, so Miami won't be getting the traditional primetime frenzy of-a-crowd at Lane Stadium that you’re used to seeing, but then again, the Hurricanes have only won one road game in 2018.
As always.....GO CANES!