2009 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch vs. Miami

The Team

  • The Hurricanes have confidence. They're coming off two wins against two very well thought of opponents and they won in impressive fashion. They came from behind to win on the road against a rival and they dominated a team that dominated them last year. They're riding about as high as they will be all season.
  • Hokie fans have to hope that the Hurricanes are peaking early and that the Hokies are just now beginning to find their stride. The Hokies are coming off an improbable win and will be playing in front of their home fans. If that doesn't give them confidence to match the Hurricanes, nothing will.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Miami Defense

  • There are two things the Hokies have to do to stop Miami's offense. The first thing has nothing to do with their defense. Instead, the onus is on the Hokie offense to sustain drives, get rushing yards and keep the Miami offense on the sidelines. The problem is, the Hokies haven't had many sustained drives this season.
  • Against Alabama and Nebraska, the Hokies have averaged 2.2 yards per carry and 6.0 yards per pass attempt according to CFBStats.com. The Hokies will need better production from running backs not named Ryan Williams and from Tyrod Taylor.
  • Williams has averaged over five yards per carry against Alabama and Nebraska. He's the Hokies' home run hitter. But for Virginia Tech to sustain drives, someone other than Williams has to be able to churn yards against the Canes.
  • The Hokies' offensive line also has to keep Tyrod Taylor upright. They improved at that against Nebraska, but still struggle at pass blocking. If Tyrod is able to find the running room he couldn't in the Hokies' first three games, then Tech will have a chance. Tyrod's running ability has to come through in this game against a young Hurricanes defense that hasn't always been able to stop scrambling QBs this year.
  • For the third time in four games, the Hokies are facing a very strong defensive line. Even without one of its key cogs, Adewale Ojomo, the Canes have an impressive defensive front. Exit Ojomo, enter freshman Olivier Vernon. Miami has the depth the Hokies have been trying to build for years and don't lose a lot from its first to second team.
  • The Canes' ends disrupted Georgia Tech's because their ends were able to destroy the Jackets' tackles and force a quick pitch from Nesbitt. They were then able to use their speed at linebacker and in the secondary to track down Georgia Tech's backs. What the Hokies have to do is use the Canes' speed against them.
  • I didn't see misdirection plays and zone-read options the Hokies used against Marshall against Nebraska. I think these are plays that can take advantage of Miami's overpursuit and lead to big yards.
  • Miami also has a vulnerable secondary. When Tyrod has time, he's capable of exploiting vulnerable secondaries. It's happened against lesser opponents. It can happen against Miami if the Hokies are able to let him make his reads and make decisions.
  • Of course, Tyrod's throw has to be accurate to take advantage.

Virginia Tech Defense vs. Miami Offense

  • Miami is good at exploiting the middle of the field through the air. The Hokies' linebackers and safeties have been giving up big plays through the air this year. This could be a lethal combination if Virginia Tech doesn't remedy it before Saturday.
  • Miami also has two good running backs in Graig Cooper and Javarris James. The Hokies have allowed three 100-yard rushers in three games. Once again, this could be a lethal combination if it isn't remedied by the defensive coaches before Saturday.
  • The Miami player I'll be watching is sophomore wide receiver LaRon Byrd. He's a smart player who's tall and could have a big game against Tech this Saturday. But the Hurricanes have four receivers who are all capable of having big games. 
  • Aldarius Johnson missed the Georgia Tech game, but had three catches for 48 yards against Florida State. Travis Benjamin is the fastest players on Miami's offense and will present matchup problems for the Hokies against Dorian Porch and Kam Chancellor. Leonard Hankerson is just tall and experienced and playing with a confidence level he didn't have in his first two seasons.
  • As I mentioned above, there are two ways to stop Whipple's offense. The other way the Hokies can potentially stop Miami's offense is by getting pressure on Jacory Harris. Harris hasn't faced pressure in his first two games. That pressure is going to have to come from a banged up defensive line. Both Jason Worilds and John Graves have been limited in practice this week due to injuries.
  • Worilds is the most likely Hokie to get to Harris. Not only is he Tech's best defensive lineman, he'll be matched up against Miami's least experienced offensive tackle in Matt Pipho. Nekos Brown will have a much harder time getting around Jason Fox, who is one of the best offensive linemen in the ACC.
  • Virginia Tech's ability to avoid big plays from the Miami offense will be its biggest challenge. While is obviously susceptible to big plays in the passing game, if I'm Mark Whipple I'd run the ball until Virginia Tech can prove it can stop me.
  • This will be the most interesting matchup to watch because it's Whipple's desire for a balanced attack against Bud Foster's desire to make teams one-dimensional.

Outcome

  • I actually think this one could get ugly. The Hurricanes match up well against the Hokies. What they are good at is what Virginia Tech struggles with and what the Hurricanes struggle against is what the Hokies don't do well. It will take pressure on the quarterback, turnovers and exceptional special teams play for Virginia Tech to win this game.

Watch the Box Score For:

  • Turnovers
  • Virginia Tech sacks and QB hurries
  • Miami yards per carry
  • Tyrod Taylor's completion percentage

Virginia Tech Players to Watch:

  • 5 - Tyrod Taylor, Jr., QB
  • 25 - Josh Oglesby, So., RB
  • 6 - Jason Worilds, Jr., DE
  • 22 - Stephan Virgil, Sr., CB

Miami Players to Watch:

  • 47 - LaRon Byrd, So., WR
  • 65 - Matt Pipho, Sr., RT
  • 94 - Eric Moncur, Sr., DE
  • 6 - Randy Phillips, Sr., SS

Final Score

Miami 31, Virginia Tech 10

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