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Keys To Victory On Offense: The Run Game Has To Finally Show Up

The spotlight will be on Cam’ron Harris and the Hurricanes running game against Virginia

247 Sports

The Hurricanes are in a must-win situation tonight as they host the Virginia Cavaliers in their first ACC game of the season. With a 2-2 record, Miami can’t afford to lose a home conference game, to an opponent they’ve defeated the last two seasons.

Rhett Lashlee and the Canes offense are going to have to put up big numbers in order to keep up with the high-flying passing attack that Virginia brings to the table, an offense that’s averaging 35.2 points per game.

With D’Eriq King’s status still unknown, Tyler Van Dyke will most likely start at quarterback. While he passed for 270 yards last week against Central Connecticut State, UVA is a whole different story, and I’d expect the second-year QB to struggle somewhat throughout Thursday night.

If the Hurricanes offense wants to be able to move the ball and put up points, the running game is going to have to show up finally. Against three FBS opponents this season, Miami has averaged just 105 yards per game. The ground game has had close to zero impact so far, which isn’t comforting now that UM’s chances of winning tonight will have much to do with how they run the ball.

Thursday is the perfect opportunity for Miami to get their running game going however, given how Virginia has struggled against defending the run so far in 2021. Through their first four games, the Cavaliers are giving up 201 rushing yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. Last week, Wake Forest ran the ball for 203 yards, and against UNC, the Tar Heels rushed for 392 yards, and averaged 8.3 yards per carry.

If the Canes can’t run the ball against that kind of defense, then I don’t really know what to say.

The biggest player on offense tonight for Miami is running back Cam’Ron Harris. The senior has just 272 rushing yards on the season so far, thanks in large part to his 100 yard performance last week against Central Connecticut State. Against FBS teams this year, Harris is averaging just 57.3 yards per game, and 4 yards per carry.

Harris needs to show us the same guy that rushed for 134 yards against Louisville last year, it’ll take a lot of pressure off a young quarterback like Van Dyke, and will open up the offense much more.

One thing that’ll hopefully help Miami’s run game against Virginia will be the return of sophomore running back Jaylan Knighton. After being suspended for the first four games this year, Knighton is back. While it may take him some time to get comfortable again in a game situation, I expect Knighton to get plenty of touches Thursday night.

In 2020, Knighton rushed for 209 yards and 1 touchdown, while also being a threat in the passing game, with 11 receptions, for 135 yards and 1 touchdown.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a good dose of freshman RB Cody Brown against the Cavaliers. Brown rushed for 77 yards last week, and looks like he could be an effective weapon on offense, with his bruising style of running.

For all I know, Rhett Lashlee may come out Thursday with Van Dyke firing early and throughout the night. If I were a betting man however, I’d expect for Miami to try and establish the run against this Virginia defense, and not put too much pressure on Van Dyke.

If the Hurricanes are able to run the football, control the time of possession and wear out the Virginia defense, Miami will have a good chance at winning this game. If they continue to struggle however, the Canes may be walking out on Thursday with a 2-3 record.