The Miami Hurricanes host the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday, October 24th at 8pm on the ACCN. Virginia heads into the contest with a record of 1-3 and ranked 49th per the SP+. The Hoos are 66th on offense, 39th on defense, and 41st in the kicking game. Miami is 4-1 and ranked 19th overall per the same metric. The ‘Canes are 37th on offense, 16th on defense, and 1st overall in the kicking game.
UVA has scored 26.2 PPG (54th of 77 FBS squads) and allowed 34.8 PPG (62nd of 77). UVA started the season with a win over Duke, but has dropped three state to Clemson, NC State, and Wake Forest, respectively.
The Hoos have turned to QB Lindell Stone with starter Brennan Armstrong out injured. Armstrong wasn’t playing well but Stone is playing even worse. Stone has competed under 57% of his passes, averaged only 4.4 yards per attempt, and has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Above- It’s hard to find a clip of UVA throwing a football but this leaves pause for the cause. Whoever is back at “QB” for UVA in the red zone seems to be a mixture of different (oh God here it comes) Wildcat looks (I had to) from the Hoos.
Starting running back Wayne Taulapapa has 245 yards for 4.8 yards per carry and three TD’s from scrimmage. Armstrong was a threat to run but Miami will luck out again, unless UVA unveils a different QB than Stone, on having a less mobile QB behind center heading into the game.
Above- Check out the UVA run game inside the 20 yard line. Looks like Duo away from the h-back and a speed out RPO tagged on. Miami will have to improve tackling in order to bring down a 5-foot-10, 215 pound back.
In the receiving game, UVA is getting explosive plays from only one threat- Lavel Davis. Davis averages 23.3 yards per catch and has logged three TD’s on only nine receptions. Let’s assume the Hoos will come at Miami’s safeties with Davis after seeing the Pitt WR’s get a few explosives over the middle.
UVA runs a 3-4 defense, Bronco Mendenhall’s specialty since his days at BYU. The defensive line isn’t asked to make plays as much as clog up blockers to keep the linebackers running free. Defensive end Richard Burney has four TFL’s and two sacks on the season. Takckle Jowon Briggs also has four TFL’s and three sacks this year.
Above- UVA struggles to get any push on the Wake Forest O-Line and Wake has all day to feel this out and make a play. Miami needs to get King more involved in the designed run game.
Linebacker Noah Taylor has logged 23 tackles, 5.5 TFL’s and 2.5 sacks in 2020. Linebacker Zane Zandier has 37 tackles and 3 TFL’s, while linebacker Nick Jackson also has 37 tackles.
Safety Brenton Nelson leads the Cavaliers with two interceptions but doesn’t have a pass break up this season. He’s joined in the backfield by safety Devante Cross who has four PBU’s and an interception of his own.
Above- This is what we thought we were getting with D’Eriq King, right? Move the pocket, buy time, hit a deep ball for a touchdown. His WR’s need more separation and to catch balls, but he also needs to throw a more accurate ball that’s easier to catch.
The UVA return game is absolutely weak and shouldn’t get an inch against Miami between the way the specialists are kicking and how bad UVA is at returns. The UVA kicker, Brian Delaney, has made 12-of-12 PAT’s and 5-of-6 field goals this season. Punter Nash Griffin is averaging 43 yards per punt which can flip the field for UVA.
In my summer Canyonero keys to victory for the Virginia game, I said Miami needs to take what the UVA defense is giving it. Coach Mendenhall will take away whatever he feels Miami’s strength is and dare the ‘Canes to beat him with their weakness. So far the weakness is King in the read option game and any outside passing concepts. Miami has to know UVA will try to stop the run and take away the TE. It’s time to find an outside WR in the young cats or hit the backs more on wheels, angles and flat routes.
Improved OL play and kicking game were the other two keys to victory. The OL play has improved but not enough versus Pitt and UVA has some big fellas up front. The ‘Canes will need to prove they can run against a larger defensive front. The kicking game is improved but the return game could be a great way to break this thing open.
Prediction: Miami by 14