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Film Preview: Virginia Tech at Miami, 11/20

The Hurricanes are favorites against the Hokies on Saturday night.

NCAA Football: Miami at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes host the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday, November 20th at 7:30pm on the ACC Network. For the ‘Canes, it’s senior night and a chance to honor players that have spent their playing careers working hard for the orange and green.

Both the ‘Canes and Hokies are 5-5 on the season (3-3 in the ACC), but Justin Fuente has been removed as the Tech head football coach. With Blake James out as Athletic Director, this could also be the end of the Manny Diaz era in Coral Gables.

The Doppler

Per Bill Connelly’s SP+, Miami is ranked 32nd overall in FBS. The Miami offense is 22nd, the defense is 47th, and the kicking game is 50th. The Hokies are 44th overall. On offense, VT is 67th while 25th on defense. Tech is 32nd in the kicking game.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

This season, VT has scored 24.3 points per game (96th in FBS of 130) but they’ve only allowed 21.3 PPG (32nd in FBS). Miami has scored 32.4 PPG (39th in FBS), and allowed 30.5 PPG (95th in FBS).

Miami needs Andres Borregales to kick touchbacks as the Hokies are averaging over 25 yards per return from three different players. Lou Hedley needs to kick it away from Tayvion Robinson who averages 14.3 yards per return and has a punt return for a TD this season.

VT offense

The Tech offense struggled under offensive-minded Justin Fuente. Hokies QB Braxton Burmeister has thrown for 7.6 yards per pass attempt, with 12 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Burmeister is mobile having rushed for 354 yards and two scores.

Running backs Raheem Blackshear and Malchi Thomas have averaged 5.3 and 5.0 yards per carry on the season. They have combined for almost 1,000 yards rushing and eight scores this season. Could Tech put together a nice run game against the Hokies? Sure. Against this scheme and linebackers- who couldn’t?

The Hokies have one big play threat at WR in Tre Turner. Turner is averaging 18 yards per catch but has caught only two TD’s. Kaleb Smith and Tayvion Robinson average 13.5 and 11.4 yards per catch and have combined for five TD’s.

Above- Burmeister pumps the bubble and hits the fade over the top of GT’s bad corners. Miami also has a bad corner or two and blown coverages from safeties not being able to get over the top.

Above- If VT has time to run play-action with a double move Manny has failed miserably at this whole ‘havoc’ thing.

Above- I hope Diaz or Bob Shoop or whoever is smart enough to put Tyrique Stevenson on this solo WR. Anyone else is going to wind up like the Jackets cornerbacks.

Above- A real concern for the ‘Canes defense. Burmeister can scramble so when Miami rushes up field wide, the Hokies QB will just take off and pick up the 1st down.

VT defense

Tech’s really good defense is led by linebacker Dax Hollifield. Hollifield has 22.5 career tackles for loss and 10 sacks over four seasons. This season alone, Hollifield has eight TFL’s and 4.5 sacks. The Hokies have TFL’s, sacks, forced fumbles, and PBU’s from guys all over the defense, this is a havoc stat defense!

Armani Chatman has six PBU’s and Dorian Strong has five. Jermaine Waller has four interceptions this season. Tyler Van Dyke will have to be careful with the football against this back five for Tech. There are 12 Hokies with at least half a sack. The ‘Canes offensive line had better come prepared and Rhett Lashlee needs to think twice about Jaylan Knighton in pass protection.

Above- If Miami can get that inside run game going... oh man, I can’t even pretend. If Knighton can run outside zone a few times with success, he can cut back on it and catch the Hokie linebackers over-pursuing.

Above- The hitch with slot fade is a nice concept. I can see Van Dyke running his favorite concept smash with some success if protection holds.

Above- Miami really should get Van Dyke out on the edge more. Since he does have some mobility and pass pro is weak, it helps buy time because space creates time.

Above- Split zone is a great concept, one of my favorites. If Knighton can show patience and Elijah Arroyo is in to block instead of Will Mallory, Miami could get this going. Anything to throw off the OODA Loop for the VT linebackers.


Per ESPN, the Hurricanes have a 72.3% win expectancy. The line is 7.5 points in favor of Miami. The Canyonero keys to victory from the summer are still in tact for Miami.

1- Don’t succumb to crossing routes. Same rules apply here as they always do for a Manny Diaz defense against the Hokies. If the TE’s and backs get in the flats, if VT runs mesh or shallow cross it’ll be bad again for the ‘Canes.

2- Get a pass rush with four. Jaelan Phillips made his NFL contract money against VT in ‘20. This year Miami lacks that true pass rusher but it is Zach McCloud’s senior night.

3- Come ready. I still think Miami needs to come ready, even with Fuente already fired. Diaz is probably done, too, but he’s got to think of the next job.

In the summer I predicted Miami to win by six, and I’m sticking to it.

Prediction: Miami by 6.