While both teams are currently 2-2, the Cavaliers have lost two conference games while the Hurricanes have yet to face an ACC opponent. On a short week, who will be able to move up the coastal division standings?
Though it has been a rough start to the season with losses to Alabama and Michigan State, a close call with Appalachian State, and the easy win over Central Connecticut State, the Hurricanes are finally heading into what matters: conference play.
It may be a short week for Miami, but their game last Saturday was over early and allowed for many of the key players to rest. The main concern is who won’t be playing: starting quarterback D’Eriq King.
With King sidelined last week, both Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia were exceptional. That was against an inferior FCS opponent, but the important part was how comfortable they looked.
The offense must continue their success against Virginia since they have struggled to stop opponents in their last two games. They have given up 1,172 yards and 96 points against North Carolina and Wake Forest, including 595 rushing yards. If Miami wants to succeed against the Cavaliers, they’ll need their rushing attack to perform well.
Luckily for the Hurricanes, they will have running back Jaylan Knighton returning from suspension for this game. He will join Cam’Ron Harris, who has been the feature back thus far, and freshman Cody Brown in the backfield.
The biggest question mark this season has been their defense. They played well against an opponent that they were clearly better than, but they were easily the worst-tackling team in the country after three games. With a quarterback who is young and relatively inexperienced, whichever one they decide to start in place of King, the defense will need to at least play a solid game.
After a nice start to the season with big wins over William & Mary and Illinois, the Cavaliers really struggled against two conference opponents.
Though they have been in blowouts over the last two weeks, they have had basically no run game. The entire offense has come on the shoulders of quarterback Brennan Armstrong. He has already passed for 1,705 yards and 13 touchdowns through four games. The problem is they are averaging just 115.5 rushing yards a game, tied for 109 in the country.
Not only has Virginia not had a 100-yard rushing performance, but their leading rusher on the season is also Wayne Taulapapa with 81 yards in four games.
Combine the successful Armstrong with the Hurricanes passing defense and this could be another big game for the Cavs’ quarterback. Miami is allowing 245.8 passing yards per game, 93rd in the country. But if they don’t have to respect the ground attack, the defense could be a little better.
How Miami Vs Virginia Will Go
When these teams kickoff at 7:30 pm on Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium, the Hurricanes are a 3.5 point favorite. With King not suiting up, Van Dyke and Garcia will be taking their first meaningful snaps in a big game. How they play will determine if Miami stands a chance.
If Virginia can’t manage to run the ball with success, it will be really hard to produce consistently. But with the Hurricanes’ struggles tackling ball carriers, I expect this to be a high-scoring game.
Last season, it was Miami that came out on top on the road. I expect Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes will get their first conference win of the season when the Cavaliers struggle on the ground on both sides of the ball.
We have an awesome Shop, so stop by to take a peek!
Subscribe to our YouTube channel