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Virginia Tech Hokies vs the Miami Hurricanes Preview for Our Pivotal Game of 2016

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Tomorrow Night. Thursday Night Football in Lane Stadium against one of our most arch of arch nemeses, the Hurricanes of the University of Miami. This game means something big for both teams. Win it and move on for a chance to challenge for the Coastal Division Championship. Lose it, and settle for the middle and a shot at a booger bowl. Which will it be?

#FEEDTRAVON control the ball, and the line of scrimmage
#FEEDTRAVON control the ball, and the line of scrimmage
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night is for the Coast marbles guys.  Yes, we have to win the remainder of our conference games, but Miami is the key to winning the ACC Coastal, it's not a guarantee, but if we don't win this game we don't win the Coastal -€” short of some bizarre miracle.  We do have Pittsburgh in the "Big Ketchup" coming up which will need to be addressed then.  This is now and Miami is the focus.

Frankly, we aren't in the best of shape for this one.  We had a brutal defeat to swallow on Saturday, and now a short week (Do the leagues actually really care about injuries, or is that all posturing?)  presents us with a brutal Thursday evening game.   It is brutal because Virginia Tech and Miami have developed into a modern rivalry that might be only noted in passing by some of the sports media, but the schools have made it a generation of hard fought and often critical games.

Let me explain with a short history lesson that Roy started, last evening.  We have played Miami 33 times.  That is correct. They have the long term lead in the series of 13 to 20, this is true.  Let's adjust those sights just a bit.  We are going to cut off the long string of losses before the Beamer Era really got rolling in about 1994.  In the last twenty years, as Miami and Virginia Tech settled in to our conferences ; first the Big East, and then the ACC, these teams have dueled in a close fought give and take where the record is more like 13 wins for Tech and 7 wins for Miami.   Think about that folks!  From 1995 to 2015, the Hokies have a 6 game edge on the contest.  We in the sports media don't think about that a whole lot.  If you include our early days where Frank didn't have the team quite turned around yet, then the W-L looks like 13-11, but that's still in favor of Virginia Tech, and Miami still gets better press than we do in this relationship.

As you can see by the following charts derived from Yahoo Sports:

Passing:

Att

Comp

Yds

Avg

Yds/Game

TD

INT

Sacks

Rate

Brad Kaaya

98

158

1373

8.7

228.8

10

4

7

150.8

Malik Rosier

2

4

32

8.0

16.0

0

0

0

117.2

Rushing:

Att

Total

Yds/Game

Avg

Long

TD's

Mark Walton

101

566

94.3

5.6

80

8

Joseph Yearby

64

434

72.3

6.8

64

6

Gus Edwards

13

127

42.3

9.8

74

1

Travis Homer

5

35

35.0

7.0

17

0

Malik Rosier

1

19

9.5

19.0

19

1

Brad Kaaya

9

-44

-7.3

-4.9

2

0

Receiving:

Rec

Yds

Yds/Game

Avg

Long

TD's

Ahmmon Richards

17

359

59.8

21.1

62

1

Stacy Coley

24

303

50.5

12.6

55

6

David Njoku

14

232

46.4

16.6

54

1

Christopher Herndon IV

10

187

31.2

18.7

48

1

Mark Walton

10

94

15.7

9.4

27

0

Joseph Yearby

9

58

9.7

6.4

14

0

Dayall Harris

6

54

27.0

9.0

13

0

Braxton Berrios

4

46

11.5

11.5

22

0

Standish Dobard

2

32

16.0

16.0

17

0

Malcolm Lewis

2

22

11.0

11.0

11

0

Marquez Williams

2

19

9.5

9.5

15

1

Miami isn't on top of its game this season.   They are coming off of a critical loss to the University of North Carolina.  Their pro-prospect Quarterback Brad Kaaya is not having his best season, especially with his recent injury and return.  He's been sacked seven times for 43 yards, and though his completion rate is around 62%, he doesn't stretch the field all that much with one long attempt at 62 yards (to Ahmmon Richards).   What the Miami offense does do for passing is spread the ball around and get it to their receiving touchdown machine Stacy Coley.

In addition to their passing game, the ‘Canes will come at us with Mark Walton on the ground.  He's on a thousand plus yard pace for the season, and leads the team in touchdowns with eight.  He's not the only running back; Joseph Yearby has pounded the rock as well.  He's right behind Walton with 434 yards with fewer carries for a nearly 7 yard average.   He's got six touchdowns to go with the yards.  That's a serious one -€” two punch on the ground, and the Hokie Defensive line and linebackers are going to be in for a pounding on the ground.

The one really bright spot is that no one will mistake Kaaya for a running QB, especially not this season after his injury.  Look for Miami to keep him in the pocket, move him around to keep him out of danger, and let their top rated running backs do the heavy lifting.  Kaaya is an accurate short passer, and given our pathetic performance against the short underneath passing in the Syracuse game, I fully expect Mark Richt to put a game plan together that will give Kaaya maximum critical down and distance plays where we have demonstrated weakness.

Miami's defense is no slouch.  They have rarely failed to put up a dangerous unit.  Expect them to bring heavy heat on Evans.  Since we haven't demonstrated much of a will to run the ball by any real methodology, Miami is going to set up to defend against the passing game and try to stop the run with natural pressure from their line.  Look, these teams are not going to have shoot outs very often.  They have happened, but mostly one team or the other dominates the time of possession and the momentum.

The Hokies need to put the negative emotion of last week behind them, but they also need to be aware of the tremendous faults that they demonstrated to all future coaching staffs on both sides of the ball.

Virginia Tech can win this game if it plays fast, with emotion and control.  We have to stop the running game, and put serious pressure on a shaky Kaaya without losing control underneath the zone because Miami's passing game is short.

Miami wins if we play like last week, stand up, and walk into a haymaker.   They have the better more consistent team on the field for Thursday night, and they'll know it.  They are in a fist fight with UNC for the Coastal.  They are as desperate to beat us as we are to beat them for the exact same reasons.

If either team loses, they lose the Coastal; period. (Don't throw weird hopeful math in the comment section, either.) This game is for the chance to win, or having the door slammed in your face.  If we win, we still have to beat Pitt.  If we lose, are in good shape for a booger bowl and a better season than last year.  I'd still rather win, thank you.

UPDATE: The Odds Makers have the Hokies laying 6 to the Hurricanes.  Humm...

GO HOKIES!!!!!