Written by Darrell Wilkinson
Gerald Willis III and the 16th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, fresh off a 20 point comeback victory over FSU set their sights on the University of Virginia as they set to square off Saturday night.
Down 27 to 7 to FSU in the middle of the third quarter it only took one moment to turn the entire game around, and that moment came on a Sheldrick Redwine forced fumble sack that was scooped up by Willis and brought the team back to life. When this defense gets rolling it’s almost unstoppable but it only takes that one spark to get the switch turned on and Virginia is going to have all they can handle this week.
The Cavaliers are 3-2 this season and are coming off a loss to 20th-ranked NC State and could present some challenges to the ‘Canes with their dual threat quarterback Bryce Perkins starting to come on and some explosive playmakers like Olamide Zaccheaus. Zaccheaus in particular has been impressive as he leads the ACC in touchdown catches(6) and is third in receiving yards(501) but is such a good weapon for Virginia because of his versatility lining up at receiver, H-back and running back depending on what’s schemed up. Miami will have to keep an eye on his explosiveness to nullify UVA’s offense.
Perkins in particular presents a danger with his ability to scramble when necessary on pass plays that has Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s attention heading into the match-up.
“They’re way better than we wished they were.” Said Diaz about Virginia’s offense. “They have found a quarterback, and I think that’s the thing that stands out. One way you can tell is they’re 10th in the country on third down conversions. He’s obviously a threat running the ball, and for sure, we’re going to talk about that, but…he can really throw it. That’s why they’re really efficient in the throwing game. They’ve sort of changed their personality from what they were a year ago. They’re a lot different formation [-wise]. They’ve got every personnel group in the world. They’re just unorthodox. They’re different than what you see week in and week out. They instantly came in and caught our guys’ attention. Not to mention what happened in the game last year. They have our full attention, for sure.”
This will be uncharted territory for redshirt freshman quarterback N’Kosi Perry as he prepares for his first start on the road for the ‘Canes. Perry struggled for much of the game against FSU going 13 of 32 but still managed to toss a career high four touchdown passes. Still, the accuracy needs to be there as he continues to grow and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown feels confident in his young starter.
“Just continue what we’ve been doing, being poised.” Said Brown about what Perry needs to do for his first road start. “It’s important for us this week to know what he should be doing. They’re coming off a bye week. They’re already somewhat of a confusing defense and very smart guys, get lined up very well and disguise very well. Trying to make stuff simple for him so he can play full speed, have confidence and execute.”
Prediction: Miami 42 – Virginia 24
I don’t believe this is an “emotional trap game” as i’ve heard from some through the week. A win like that against FSU should propel this Hurricanes team forward through the rest of the season as a motivating factor that shows that they aren’t the same team that rolled over against LSU week one.
This defense that still leads the nation in tackles for loss with an average of 12 per game is also in the top ten in sacks(8th), turnovers gained(6th) and total defense(2) and should once again dominate the game in front of them. The way this defensive front is tossing around people right now it’s hard to envision Virginia coming up with enough answers to the problems the Hurricanes present. Miami runs away with it late.
Be sure to tune in Saturday at 7:00PM/EST as the 16th-ranked Miami Hurricanes travel to Virginia to face the Cavaliers. Game can be seen LIVE on ESPN2, don’t miss it.
- Darrell Wilkinson TheSkyBoat.com
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