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Miami Hurricanes Matchup Preview: Virginia Cavaliers

Miami looks to avoid a 2-4 start for the first time since 1997.

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami welcomes #20 Virginia to Hard Rock Stadium on Friday night on the heels of an emotional 42-35 loss to the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Canes now sit at 2-3 (0-2) in ACC play, and must win this game to keep any glimmer of an ACC Coastal Title alive.

It seems that life sometimes comes full circle, and for the Canes and more specifically QB N’Kosi Perry this seems to be the case. Almost one year ago Miami was 5-1 and riding high after a big win against FSU. N’Kosi Perry seemed to be the QB of the future, until he threw 2 first quarter interceptions at Virginia, and the season went downhill from there. Mark Richt would play QB roulette the rest of the season, and unfortunately for Miami they have yet to recover.

Virginia Tech at Miami Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Matchup to Watch

N’Kosi Perry will get his chance at redemption against a very stout Cavaliers defense led by Safety Joey Blount. Blount currently has 37 tackles and leads a very formidable secondary. Perry must be careful with the football, and try to get it in the hands of Miami’s playmakers Jeff Thomas and Brevin Jordan. Those two exploded for 13 catches 160 yards and 3 TDs just 5 days ago, and seem to be more at home with Perry throwing the ball. Virginia gives up just 184 ypg through the air, so Miami will have some tough sledding if Perry is inaccurate.

Virginia v Notre Dame Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Potential Game Changing Battle

Bryce Perkins is a great athlete playing QB, but he is far from a polished passer. Miami faced a similar QB in Hendon Hooker a week ago, and never stressed his comfort level. Perkins tossed 3 interceptions a season ago vs the Canes, and for Miami to have any chance in this contest they must break out the Turnover Chain a few times. Miami should employ the same strategy used vs Florida, and make Perkins stand in the pocket and make throws. If he is able to use his legs to break contain and run the ball, Miami’s defense could be in for a long night.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 24 Camping World Kickoff - Florida v Miami Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It Could Be U-G-L-Y

Miami’s offensive line has been ridiculed by every football outlet over the 1st five weeks of the season, and currently are dead last in college football in sacks allowed at 5 per game. Virginia comes into the game defensively getting the QB on the ground 4.8 times per contest. Miami must find a way to give N’Kosi Perry time to find open receivers even if that means more max protect, quick throws or screens to slow down the rush. Watching some film this week, Miami suffers not only from starting 2 freshman on the line, but a huge lack of communication whether picking up blitzes or even on 3 man rushes. Navaughn Donaldson has not lived up to his Freshman All-American hype, and must improve his play dramatically for this line to be better.

Manny Back on D

Manny Diaz said on 560 the Joe this week that he would be more heavily involved on the defensive side of the ball. How much of an impact will this have? Miami statiscally still looks like they have a good defense, but if you look at the numbers that matter you will see this is not the case. 24 points allowed vs Florida, 28 vs North Carolina and 42 in a loss to Virginia Tech. These numbers, plus the key plays Miami has surrendered in these games show that the defense has taken a step back. Cach Diaz must find a way for the defense to get back to their old ways by creating havoc in the backfield and not giving up huge pass plays in the most inopportune time.

Miami doesn’t have a lot of matchup advantages in this game. Can Manny Diaz get this team to respond on a short week at home? Can the Friday night upset magic find its way to Hard Rock Stadium on Friday night? Unfortunately this is where the Canes are in early October.