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2011 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch vs. Miami

Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1, 0-1) vs. Miami Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1)

Hopefully we've haven't seen the best out of the Hokies yet this year and hopefully last week was the worst we'll see from them.

While we've spent a lot of time discussing what went wrong for the Hokies last week and what we need to fix, we haven't paid much attention to the fact that, hey, we're playing Miami this week. When the two teams play, there's usually at least one of them is in contention for the Coastal title and it's in November. This year we're faced with basically a Coastal elimination game in the second week of October. It's a must-win for both rivals and it's going to be a hard-fought game. It might even get a little ugly.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Miami Defense

  • Opponents have been able to run the ball consistently against the Miami defense this year so it stands to reason the Hokies will attempt to do the same. All four Cane opponents have averaged over 4.4 ypc and David Wilson has averaged at least 4.3 ypc in his first five games. It could be dueling banjos between he and Lamar Miller.
  • Tech cannot turn the ball over against Miami. They've committed exactly two turnovers in each of their four games against FBS opponents this year and that's not going to fly from here on out. Everyone left on the schedule will be able to take advantage of those opportunities.
  • The Hokies also can't afford to get behind the chains with their Logan Thomas. Tech has needed at least seven yards to make a first down in 35 of their 70 third downs. That's way too high. It gets you into situations like the Hokies faced last week against Clemson when good, speedy defensive ends can attack your quarterback.
  • One thing I'm watching this week is the blocking of our running backs. One of the most undervalued things that helps Virginia Tech's offense when it's going well is the down-field blocking of its receivers. Well, the opposite has hurt the Hokies. The pass blocking of the running backs needs to be better.
  • Finally, the punting. Last week we booed Scott Demler and I really think we should be better than that. If we were booing the coaches for continuing to send Demler out there time and again, that's acceptable, but the problem is that's not something you can tell on TV or at the stadium. It always sounds like you're booing the kid. Let's not boo the kid again. An epic rant like the one Joe had last week after the 11-yard punt that caused six rows of people to stare at us is fine, but please don't boo the kid. And yes, I was among the ones booing last week. Definitely ashamed of it, too.

Virginia Tech Defense vs. Miami Offense

  • Miami's offense will go as far as running back Lamar Miller takes it. Through four games, Miller has 59 percent of Miami's carries and a remarkable 73 percent of their rushing yards. He's having an outstanding year, going over 100 yards in all four games so far and averaging 6.7 ypc.
  • The Hokies know all about Miller. As a freshman, he ran for 163 yards and averaged over 10 yards per carry against a Virginia Tech defense that was torn apart on the ground in 2010.
  • This year has been different for the Hokies, but every team they've played so far has run the ball primarily out of the shotgun. Miami will run the ball with the QB under center, which is just the kind of attack that had success against the Hokies last year. Tech, of course, will also be without its best defensive tackle and will have a 253-pound freshman in for him.
  • While Miami has run the ball well this year with Miller, where they've struggled is on third and short. The Canes are only 3-for-9 when running on third-and-short and 5-for-8 when throwing.
  • If Tech can avoid giving up big yards to Miller and keep the Canes behind schedule they can go after Jacory Harris and force him to make mistakes. Miami hasn't given up a lot of sacks so far, but that's in part to the fact that they haven't faced third-and-long a whole lot. Miami has run 16 plays on third-and-seven or more while the Hokies have run 35 such plays.

Watch the Box Score

  • Miami YPC
  • Virginia Tech 3rd Down %
  • Turnovers
  • Penalties

Virginia Tech Players to Watch

  • 19 - Danny Coale, Sr., WR
  • 4 - David Wilson, Jr., RB
  • 96 - Corey Marshall, Fr., DT
  • 15 - Eddie Whitley, Sr., ROV

Miami Players to Watch

  • 12 - Jacory Harris, Sr., QB
  • 6 - Lamar Miller, So., RB
  • 7 - Vaughn Telemaque, Jr., SS
  • 56 - Marcus Robinson, Sr., DE

Final Score

Virginia Tech 24, Miami 23