The Miami Hurricanes enter Friday night as the low point of the 2019 season looms over; the 42-35 loss to rival Virginia Tech dropped the Canes to 2-3, and 0-2 in the ACC. However, the Canes have no time to sulk, as the #20 ranked Virginia Cavaliers come to Hard Rock Stadium for a primetime clash on Friday night.
UVA was voted as the preseason favorites by the media to win the ACC Coastal, and so far the Cavaliers, (4-1, 2-0), have backed that up with their lone loss coming to #9 ranked Notre Dame on the road.
Miami, as aforementioned, lost 42-35 to Virginia Tech last Saturday, but the score is not an indication of how poorly the Canes played for most of the game. Miami went down 28-0 early in the second quarter, and thanks to a hail mary, limped into halftime down 28-7. A furious rally saw Miami come all the way back to tie the game at 35, but Virginia Tech would score the game-winning touchdown with 1:03 remaining.
While the Canes comeback was admirable, it still didn’t mask some glaring issues that continued from previous games. Miami had a -5 turnover margin, which isn’t going to win you many games. Additionally, the Canes committed 11 penalties, which cost them 90 yards. Miami ranks dead last in the country in terms of penalties per game, and that is simply unacceptable. It certainly won’t cut it against a quality team like Virginia.
One of the bright spots from the Virginia Tech loss was quarterback N’kosi Perry, who came on in relief for starter Jarren Williams who threw three first-quarter interceptions. Perry finished the game going 28/47 for 422 yards and four touchdowns. Perry averaged nine yards per throw, and while he did throw an interception, he sparked the Miami offense and gave UM a chance to win the game.
Perry, the redshirt sophomore, will get another opportunity to impress, as he will start on Friday night for the Canes, Williams is nursing a shoulder injury. Perry split starting duties with Malik Rosier last season, and he completed 50.8% of his passes for 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as six interceptions. In the last meeting between the Canes and the Cavaliers, UM left Charlottesville with a brutal 16-13 loss, with the misery compounded by the fact that Perry was benched in the first half after two interceptions. Perry and the Hurricanes will look to get their revenge on Friday, but it won’t be easy against a team like Virginia.
The Cavaliers are led by quarterback Bryce Perkins, who has completed 66.5% of his passes for 1,177 yards, eight touchdowns, and six interceptions. Perkins has some very solid options at receiver, as Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed have been a very formidable duo this season. Dubois has posted 334 yards and two touchdowns, while Reed has recorded 322 yards and four touchdowns. One additional area of concern for Miami is Perkins’ ability in the run game. He has run for 164 yards and two touchdowns this season, and Perkins bothered UM in the run game last season, running for 61 yards on 21 carries.
The Canes had problems defending the run game last week, as Virginia Tech QB Hendon Hooker scrambled for 76 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Moving to the other side of the ball, Miami’s offensive line, which has been a concern all year, will have their work cut out for them on Friday night. Considering Miami allowed seven sacks last weekend, UVA’s defense is sure to wreak even more havoc on Miami’s offensive line.
Ultimately, a defensive performance like last week will not cut it against Virginia, a team that will likely make it difficult for Perry and the Miami offense to score a lot of points. Additionally, UM needs to cut its penalties down, because they simply cannot have double digit penalties that are costing them almost 100 yards.
Finally, UM needs to have the turnover margin in their favor, and that’s on the offense to limit its mistakes, and the defense to create more turnovers, especially after last week when they ended up with zero. This will be a big test for the Hurricanes, as they look to get their first ACC win of the season against a talented and well-coached Virginia team.