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Film Preview: Virginia at Miami, 10/11

The Cavaliers travel to Hard Rock to face the ‘Canes

Florida State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

As poorly as we fans have felt the Hurricanes have played this year, and let’s face it, wins are the only stat that matters, the Virginia offense has been worse. The Cavaliers are 40th overall in SP+, 85th on offense, 23rd on defense, and 51st in the kicking game. The Hoos leading rusher is Wayne Taulapapa with only 183 yards on 3.7 yards per carry and five touchdowns. Bryce Perkins has thrown for over 1,000 yards but with an 8-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ration and while averaging only seven yards per attempt.

However, a year ago, none of UVA’s offensive woes seemed to matter. They played a “Cal game” against Miami holding the ‘Canes to a 16-13 loss and what felt like the death knell on Mark Richt’s tenure at Miami. Mendenhall’s defensive scheme worked, which was to keep N’Kosi Perry from successfully throwing deep balls to Jeff Thomas and force Miami to put together longer drives.

As we’ve seen all season, long drives are hard to do when you’re perpetually in 2nd and long situations and have a poor 3rd down conversion ratio. Tulane is averaging over eight yards per 1st down play. Miami is averaging only 5.6 yards per play on any down which puts the ‘Canes offense at 62nd in the nation. And on the most important stat on offense, which is points per play, Miami is 92nd in the country while Virginia is 58th. While Deejay Dallas has ran for 300 more yards than the Hoos running back, he’s only scored one more touchdown. While Jarren Williams has throw three less interceptions than Perkins- he’s only thrown one more touchdown.

Stats are for losers, analytics are for coaches and gamblers (same thing), wins are for everyone. Virginia is 4-1 having knocked off Pitt and Florida State while playing Notre Dame close until turnovers gave the Irish the cue to go home and go over.

Mobile QB’s: Myth or Reality?

If anything makes me nervous it is Bryce Perkins getting away with this. He’s an inaccurate, wild armed, almost an ineffective quarterback- but his ability to extend a play, run around and find an open man will hurt Miami. Will it hurt UVA at some point, too? We can only hope the Turnover Chain is more than just a forgotten meltdown at the Swap Shop.

But can the often-confused Miami linebackers and defensive backs mark a receiver for this long on a scramble drill? I have limited faith in the 2019 back seven.

And then he does this...

Perkins drops back to throw and after his rhythm step at the back of his initial drop what looks like his first read is covered. The first read seems to be the receiver inside of the guy I’ve highlighted.

Perkins then shows no pocket presence to step up, and after his hitch still can’t find the next receiver who is wide open. Instead, he keeps his eyes on the initial target and eventual gives up a strip sack with his running back on the 5th rusher in pass pro.

Myth or reality

In the late 90’s through mid 2000’s the mobile QB’s hurt Miami theory was a myth. But against Manny Diaz’s defense it’s been more of a reality until they are forced into throwing situations. Then the Chazz Surratt’s of the world start to throw interceptions or like Perkins here give up strip sacks. But Miami’s pass rush hasn’t been as ferocious in 2019 as it was in 2017 or even 2018.

Miami has lost Al Golden’s recruits and with their abilities have gone the havoc plays. If young guys with high potential like Gregory Rousseau and Nesta Silvera can turn their potential into reality Perkins could be in for a long night. We’ll see...

From 2018’s film

Miami needs to be committed to the running game, from the shotgun, deploying RPO’s in their arsenal. When reading Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne, I can’t help but feel like Miami’s offense has been the U.S. Army when it comes to using antiquated tactics in battle. The Comanche’s were riding their horses that they became experts at training and maintaining. They could fire a dozen or more arrows from their mount in the time it took a soldier to fire one musket shot from a dismount.

Miami has the firepower to play fast and explosive football but sticks to this antiquated philosophy that they must dismount and fire while these other programs hit the ‘Canes offense with a litany of arrows. In 2018’s UVA game, Miami chose to launch the deep ball as opposed to work in space.

In the images above and below, Miami has open space. Above- as the flat defender creeps in to blitz the QB needs to check and throw a bubble or even a 1-step slant to open space. This offsets their blitz and lets your athletes work in space while forcing cornerbacks to tackle.

Below- The look UVA gives begs Miami, on 1st and 10, to run an RPO. Miami never does and thus dismounts from their horse and is shot with a dozen arrows once again. How far behind South Florida high school and how far behind the Hurricanes football coaching are makes your head hurt.

I for one love the pop pass RPO. Linebackers are taught from when they’re eight years old and defending the wing-t that they need to read the guards, take two big steps forward, and fill the hole on run plays. If you read that linebacker (blue circle) and throw the pop pass to his vacated window you’re going to get yardage you otherwise wouldn’t. Especially with a weak offensive line.

You can watch dude run up and fill the hole against my offense a year ago, and see exactly how the pop pass RPO works. Enjoy.


I have this strange feeling this is another 20-13 type barn burner from UVA, Miami, and the ACC Coastal. The lack of firepower in the division is embarrassing but it will improve. Don’t count out Phil Longo, Dave Patenaude, or David Cutcliffe. As for the Hokies and Justin Fuente, Miami and Dan Enos, or Pitt and whoever they hire every year- the jury is out.

Prediction: Virginia by 6