It’s Senior Day for the Miami Hurricanes! On deck as we conclude the 2021 home schedule for the Canes are a Coastal Division foe who, like Miami, has struggled and underachieved relative to their expectations this season — the Virginia Tech Hokies.
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Miami stumbled to a 2-4 start before rallying the troops and turning the season around (a bit) with a trio of wins, including a pair over ranked teams. During the Canes’ run, QB Tyler Van Dyke has played better than any Miami QB in the last 10-15 years, and looks to be unlocking every bit of his potential on the field. And the previous heat surrounding Manny Diaz’s seat as head coach cooled significantly.
Then Miami lost to Florida State. And all that goodwill was instantly — and understandably — undone.
In the aftermath of the FSU loss, Athletic Director Blake James was fired. That matters because a new AD will likely want his own selected coach to run the program. And that bodes poorly for Diaz moving forward.
A coach who can sympathize with this is former Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente. With a matching 5-5 (3-3 ACC) record this season as Diaz has with his Canes, Fuente saw the slide to perpetual mediocrity for his Hokies come at a cost.
Fuente was fired after last week’s game.
Even though Fuente is gone this game which pairs 5-5 teams against each other, and this mirror-mirror situation between he — already fired — and Diaz — by all accounts likely to join him on the unemployment line in the near future — is sure to be brought up plenty of times this week. Including now! :-)
When VT is on Offense
VT is led by QB Braxton Burmeister. He’s more athletic than you may think, so watching for VT integrating some QB run, or having the QB get loose scrambling, will be key. On the year, Burmeister is an average passer. He boasts a stat line of 54.5% completions for 1710 yards with 12 TDs and 4 INTs. That 171 yards per game average isn’t earth shattering by any means, and speaks to VT’s struggles on offense.
VT is a balanced team, with 1736 yards rushing and 1864 yards passing on the year. Their 360 yards/game average comes in 98th Nationally. For a coach who is supposed to be an offensive guru, that’s quite poor.
VT has some skill players who can make plays. Raheem Blackshear is the leading rusher, but Malachi Thomas and QB Burmeister are next on the list, both with 347 yards or more on the year. Tre Turner is a nice receiver, but he’s questionable after a mild injury last weekend. Tayvio Robinson is the leading receiver by catches, but Turner has more yardage. Those two are the top targets BY FAR this year.
Overall, VT’s offense has eclipsed 383 yards only 3 times in 10 games this year. BUT, those three game have come in the last four outings, so maybe they’re figuring something out as the season comes near its conclusion?
When VT is on Defense
VT has been a bit of an inconsistent bunch on defense, but when you’re 5-5 how consistent is anything in your program? (and, as a 5-5 program as well, Miami knows that all too well).
Nasir Peoples, Alan Tisdale, and Dax Hollifield are the leading tacklers for VT. Each has at least 75 tackles on the year. Hollifield is a bit of a playmaker with 8 TFLs and 4.5 sacks on the year, so he’s a player to keep an eye on.
DB Jermaine Walker has 4 interceptions on the year, and 5 other defenders have one each. VT has been intermittently effective in getting turnovers, and Miami is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to turnover margin, so this is an area of the game that bears watching as well.
Much like their offense, VT has only allowed more than 400 yards three times this season. But, they’ve allowed more than 5 yards per play seven times this year, and Miami could have the ability to find their way into good efficiency against the Hokies on Saturday.
This is a game between two 5-5 (3-3) teams. One team has already fired their coach, and the other very well might do the same in short order.
This is a game between teams who, right or wrong, had much higher expectations than this heading into the year. Both hoped this game would determine the winner of the ACC Coastal....not bowl eligibility for the winner.
This figures to be another close game that shouldn’t really be close but neither team is that good, and neither coach is, either.
PREDICTION: Miami 27 Virginia Tech 25