Coordinator: James Coley
Scoring Offense: 54th nationally (31.4 PPG)
Passing Offense: 44th nationally (263.9 YPG)
Rushing Offense: 68th nationally (162.14 YPG)
When quarterback Brad Kaaya was recruited by Miami, his skill set provided seemingly endless potential but he was thought to be a work in progress. Instead after an injury to presumptive starter Ryan Williams, Kaaya won the starting job for the Hurricanes as a true freshman and he has exhibited the poise not shown by many senior quarterbacks.
Kaaya is the most well regarded Miami signal caller since Ken Dorsey, and could prove to be the best freshman in the ACC this season. Through seven games Kaaya has completed 126 of his 200 passes for 1,806 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also boasts a stellar quarterback rating of 156.25, ranking 16th nationally.
While Kaaya doesn't possess a cannon, his arm strength is above average, and the efficiency with which he uses it has become his calling card. The decision making and accuracy he shows, coupled with his quick release, allows Kaaya to pick defenses apart by finding receivers in stride. He has also worked on his footwork in the pocket, once a knock on him in high school, which has made him one of the most fundamentally sound freshman in college football.
Since arriving in Miami in 2012, junior running back Duke Johnson has been thought of as one of the best offensive players in Hurricanes history, and he is now breaking the records to prove it. In the Hurricanes last game, a lopsided 55-34 win over Cincinnati, Johnson passed Clinton Portis for fourth on the Hurricanes rushing list (2,654 yards) and surpassed Santana Moss for the school's most all-purpose yards (4,427). It's also worth noting that Johnson needed only 27 games to break the mark Moss set in 41.
For Johnson, 787 of his career rushing yards have come on his 100 attempts this season along with six rushing touchdowns. Johnson is also the fifth leading receiver for Miami with 187 yards, proving his worth as a dual-threat in the backfield. The Hokies can expect to see a lot of Johnson Thursday, as he handles the ball nearly 20 times a game for the Hurricanes this season.
Freshman Joseph Yearby is also showing Miami they may have a capable running back waiting in the wings once Johnson departs. Yearby has 317 yards on 43 attempts this season, including 113 yards in Miami's last game October 11. Yearby has great field vision, and has already exhibited an elusiveness and cutting ability this year that could cause fits for the Virginia Tech defense.
Miami Florida had Two 100 yd rushers in same game for first time since 2003 with Duke Johnson (10-162) & Joseph Yearby (8-113)— Phil Steele (@philsteele042) October 12, 2014
The Miami receiving corps is lead by a pair of seniors, receiver Phillip Dorsett and tight end Clive Walford. Dorsett leads the team in receiving yards (550) and touchdowns (six) on 16 receptions, and Walford has a team leading 23 receptions for 306 yards.
With 78.6 receiving yards per game thus far, Dorsett is on pace for over 1,000 receiving yards this season -- a feat accomplished by only four Hurricane receivers in school history. The 6'4", 260 pound Walford has become a favorite target for Kaaya and the pair has connected on four touchdowns this season.
Freshman receiver Braxton Berrios has also been on the receiving end of three Kaaya touchdown passes, and has 203 yards on 18 receptions. Also contributing for the Miami receiving unit is junior Herb Waters with 19 receptions and 257 yards.
The Miami offense is versatile and well-rounded enough to present match up issues all over the field for the Hokies defense Thursday. Kaaya isn't the mobile type of quarterback that has frustrated Bud Foster's defense recently, but his precision passing will keep the secondary unit busy. If Johnson and Yearby pair for a game like they had against Cincinnati, the 30th ranked Virginia Tech run defense could be in for a long night in Blacksburg.