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Miami Wins a Defensive Struggle at Home

Miami moved to 5-1 on the season following an ugly, rain-soaked victory against the Virginia Cavaliers.

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It was the start ‘Canes fans dreamed of seeing. After a 32-yard completion to Will Mallory to start the first drive of the game, D’Eriq King let the ball fly, finding receiver Mike Harley wide open at the goal line for a 43-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch. After Virginia answered with a touchdown of their own, the stage was set for another high-speed showdown for the Miami offense. Instead, we saw a mistake-prone unit that caused many to doubt if they had actually improved since 2019.

Once again, we saw Miami’s opponent sell-out to stop the run. Credit should be given to Virginia’s defensive front for successfully stopping Miami on the ground, but the ‘Canes have to find ways to avoid becoming so one-dimensional. D’Eriq King had a solid game, completing 21 of 30 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown toss, but Miami wasn’t able to deliver the knockout punch on Virginia, resulting in a game that was far closer than it should’ve been.

Miami’s defensive, however, bailed out the struggling offense. It took a little bit of luck, as a Virginia touchdown was called back due to an ineligible receiver downfield penalty, but Blake Baker’s unit played a major role in the Hurricanes doing just enough to win.

Did Miami play down to their opponent? Yes. Did Miami need some luck in order to win this game? Yes. Regardless, it’s a win, and a game that past Miami teams may have lost. Despite the win not being as satisfying as fans had hoped, the ‘Canes are 5-1 and 4-1 in ACC conference play—their only loss coming against the best team in the nation.

Entering their second bye week with a Friday-night matchup at NC State looming on the horizon, Miami has to remain prepared for every opponents’ best effort. The final stretch of games to conclude the 2020 regular season will truly show us what this Hurricanes team is made of, and hopefully, how much they’ve improved.