Miami gets back in action Saturday night at 8PM on the ACC Network vs Virginia. Virginia and Miami have had an interesting history dating back to their 1st meeting in 1996. Neither team has won more than 3 straight in the series, with the Canes leading all-time 10-7. The Cavaliers posted the largest margin of victory 48-0 back in 2007, but the Canes have won four of the last five meetings including last year 17-9.
The Cavaliers are off to a rough start currently sitting at 1-3 with all their games in ACC play. Virginia is coming off a 40-23 defeat at the hands of Wake Forest and may be without QB Brennan Armstrong for a second week in a row as he deals with concussion. Once again this is a very winnable game for the Canes if they take care of business like they did against Pitt.
Matchup to Watch
Miami faced backup QBs one week ago against the Pitt Panthers, and for the most part did a good job making them uncomfortable. This week the Canes may encounter the same thing vs Virginia if Armstrong is unable to go. Either way Miami’s defensive front needs to be disruptive and continue to live in the backfield.
Brennan Armstrong is the normal starter and can be an effective dual threat guy if he is able to play. On the season he has completed 54 passes on 97 attempts for 596 yards and 5 TDs. Where Armstrong becomes effective is in the running game where he can run zone read or tuck it and go. He has 130 yards and a score which is second best on the team. At 6’2” and about 215lbs Miami would have to account for his legs just as much as his arm if he is in the game. Armstrong does have a penchant for turning it over, with 6 interceptions on the year, so the Canes could rattle him.
Lindell Stone is he backup but has plenty of game experience having started the last contest against Wake Forest. In relief of an injured Armstrong he threw for 240 yards and 3 scores in the loss to NC St. Stone is a better pure passer than Armstrong, and not quite as mobile. In the loss to Wake Forest Stone also threw 2 interceptions and was ultimately pulled from the contest. Miami has struggled with guys who can make throws when they do not pressure, but with Stone’s limited ability to run, Blake Baker should (gasp) dial up some pressure packages.
Iraken Armstead is the last QB for the Cavs and played in the loss to the Demon Deacons and may see action against Miami. Armstead is a 3-star recruit who has seen game action only twice for UVA, and if he is called upon it could be a struggle for Virginia.
Miami has a clear advantage in this contest especially if Virginia does not have their starting QB. Jaelan Phillips, Quincy Roche, Nesta Jade Silvera and others should be salivating at the prospects of facing a backup for the second straight week. Miami did a great job shutting down Pittsburgh’s running game and can focus on the same thing vs Virginia. For all the slander Blake Baker has received, Miami still has a Top 30 defense, and that is with 2 bad performances against Clemson and Louisville. The Canes can continue to climb the defensive rankings with a good performance this weekend. Pressure, cover and stop the run should be the goals for Miami’s defense. This is setting up for a nice Canes win on Saturday if they don’t allow one of Virginia’s QBs to turn into Joe Montana. Miami has a clear matchup advantage, and this is it.