Virginia Tech (6-3) at (14) Miami-Florida (7-1)|
Saturday, November 9, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Miami-Florida Hurricanes try to bounce back from
their first loss of the season, as they host the Virginia Tech Hokies in an
Atlantic Coast Conference clash on Saturday evening.
After losing its opener to top-ranked Alabama, Virginia Tech caught fire with
six consecutive victories, rising all the way to No. 16 in the AP poll. Since
beating Pittsburgh on Oct. 12 however, the Hokies have fallen in consecutive
contests, losing at home to Duke on Oct. 26 (13-10), and at Boston College
last weekend (34-27), dipping to 3-2 in conference as a result.
"Things just aren't going our way sometimes, and then, we're not making it go
our way," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "We're not making the plays
we need to make or take care of the ball the way we need to take care of it.
(We've) got to work (our) way out of these funks."
Miami started the season unranked but managed to rise to national prominence
following a 7-0 start, but it had its hands full against No. 3 Florida State
last Saturday, losing convincingly in Tallahassee, 41-14.
"Obviously, we didn't do enough (against Florida State) to put any pressure on
them," Miami coach Al Golden said. "We needed one more score in the first
quarter to put some pressure on them and then be able to stay with the running
game. Once we started getting behind, it unraveled a little bit."
The Hurricanes currently sit in first place in the ACC's Coastal Division at
3-1, although a defeat in this bout would create a three-way tie in the loss
column with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech (5-2), which is idle this week.
Miami holds an 18-12 advantage in the all-time series with Virginia Tech.
After the Hokies won three consecutive matchups from 2009-11, the Hurricanes
snapped the slide with a 30-12 home win last season.
Virginia Tech has been able to compile an impressive record despite an offense
that ranks 10th in the ACC in yardage (348.0 ypg) and 11th in scoring (22.1
Quarterback Logan Thomas has been inconsistent in his senior season. While he
has amassed solid numbers passing (2,056 yards, 11 TDs) and rushing (296
yards, four TDs), he is completing fewer than 56 percent of his throws and has
tossed 12 interceptions, two of which came in last week's loss.
"Turnovers are the story again," Thomas said following the setback to BC.
"We've got to take care of the football or we wouldn't have been in the
position we were in. The defense played well, other than when we put them in
bad field position."
Thomas has three very capable receivers to throw the ball to, as Demitri
Knowles (35 catches, 450 yards, two TDs), Willie Byrn (34 catches, 424 yards,
TD) and Joshua Stanford (27 catches, 455 yards) all rank in the top-20 in the
ACC in receiving yards.
Trey Edmunds has carried the ball 125 times, nearly four times as often as any
other back on the team, but he has just 447 yards (3.6 ypc) and five scores.
The Hokies' success this season is due in huge part to the play of their
outstanding defense, which ranks third in the nation in allowing just 253.2
ypg, while also ranking in the top-10 in point allowed (16.9 ppg).
The unit's 17 interceptions is tied for second-most in the country, with
Kendall Hunter and Brandon Facyson pacing the ball-hawing secondary with five
and four picks, respectively. Jack Tyler leads the way with 74 tackles , while
J.R. Collins, Dadi Nicolas, Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy all have at least
In stark contrast to its counterpart here, Miami boasts a very good offensive
attack, ranking third in the ACC in both scoring (36.4 ppg) and yards (458.1
ypg), but those numbers are expected to take a hit with the loss of star
running back Duke Johnson, the conference's second-leading rusher with 920
yards. Johnson will miss the rest of the season after suffering an ankle
injury in the Florida State game.
"I'm disappointed for (Duke) because he was really starting to understand how
to be a good running back," Golden said. "He was really starting to convert
talent to skill."
In Johnson's absence, Dallas Crawford (294 yards), who already had a large
role in the red zone with nine touchdowns, will be asked to take on more of
Stephen Morris will also be relied on more under center. The Hurricane's
success this season has masked a lackluster campaign for their signal caller,
who is completing just 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,655 yards with 12
touchdowns and a career-high 10 interceptions.
Allen Hurns is one of the best big-play receivers in the ACC with 33
receptions for 590 yards and four touchdowns. His 17.9 yards per catch ranks
second in the league among players with at least 30 grabs.
While the Miami defense may not be having as impressive a season as Virginia
Tech, it has still performed well in its own right, allowing only 20.6 ppg and
364.1 ypg, while holding opponents to just 37 percent on third-down conversion
Denzel Perryman has a team-high 63 tackles, while Shayon Green has 9.5 TFL and
3.0 sacks. Ladarius Gunter, Tracy Howard, Tyriq McCord and Rayshawn Jenkins
have all picked off multiple passes.
The loss of Johnson is huge for Miami, as he is basically irreplaceable in an
offense that once revolved around his skill set. The Hurricanes will have
difficulty putting up points on a stout Virginia Tech defense, but likewise,
the Hokies have yet to prove to be a reliable offensive squad, especially on
the road. In what should be a low-scoring affair, the boost from the home
crowd gives Miami the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 17, Virginia Tech 14
11/06 10:47:26 ET