You don’t realize how stress free bye weeks are until you have one. Last Saturday was very, very relaxing, outside of watching the Hoos basketball team in Charlotte slowly pull away from Davidson. But now there is no stopping til the end, which is thankfully only a week and a half away. This week is the calm before the cold front with Miami. And while Miami hasn’t been the same since the FSU game, there is little to think that London can keep his perfect mark against the Canes.
The Hoos and the Canes have a very short history together. The first time these two teams got together was 1996 in the Carquest Bowl, where the Canes prevailed 31-21. We wouldn’t meet again until Miami joined the ACC in 2004, and have played each other every year, compiling a split 5-5 record. Interesting fact is regardless of Mike London’s struggles, he has defeated the Hurricanes each of his 3 years, with all 3 being instant classics. 2010 saw Virginia go up big early and hold on late despite current UM QB Stephen Morris burning his redshirt in that game 24-19 for Mike’s first ACC win. 2011 Saw the Cardiac Cavs v2.0 go down to Coral Gables and do the same thing: establishing a lead and holding on late for a 28-21 win. Last season was…well, it was insane. A game that was back and forth for 60 minutes, ending in a McGee TD with 6-seconds left in the game for a 41-40 win.
It has been a tale of two seasons for the Canes. From August through October, Miami went 7-0, taking out teams like Florida, GT, and UNC. Then came November and their date with FSU, where they hung around for a half before getting trounced 41-14. Since then, they have dropped games to both VT at home and Duke on the road and now stand at 7-3, with real outside shot at the Coastal.
Al Golden is running a pro-set offense, but with the exclusion of Duke Johnson, their everything running back, look for a more pass first mindset. Stephen Morris is back for his senior year, and while he is not putting up the numbers he once was (59% completion, 16 TD, 11 INT), he is still has a great arm and mobile when he needs to be. Fellow senior Allen Hurns (839 yards, 5 TDs) anchors a young receiving core with Herb Waters (406 yards, 5 TDs) and Stacy Coley (405 yards, 4 TDs). Filling in for Duke has been Dallas Crawford (446, 10 TDs), who is more of a power back than an outside runner.
This 4-3 defense is quite confusing. They started the year very well against some different look offenses, but has allowed Duke and Virginia Tech to run over them at will. The DEs are the heart of this defense with Anthony Chickillo (40 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sack) and Shayon Green (57 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 sack). OLB Denzel Perryman (91 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.5 sack) reminds me of Steve Greer in that he seems to be in on every play. But UVa eyes will be on troubled ex-Cav Justin Renfrow (29 tackles) who decided to attend grad school at Miami and finish his eligibility there.
How UVa Covers
1. Pressure Morris. While he might say he is 100% better after his leg injury, he has been super ‘picky’ lately, which means Harris and the Hoos will have a great shot at some quick turnovers and good field position.
2. Win the TOP. While Harris has been great at Safety, the rest of the secondary is real banged up, and Miami knows that. Sustained drives can keep the UM offense off the field and give the corners some rest.
3. Lambert time. At this point, it’s time to get some seasoning on the rookie, and Miami would be a great place to get started. Not saying he would start, but reps for Watford are meaningless now, especially if we are down 21 in the second half.
I have been blasting Vegas for not putting up realistic lines this year, but the UVa +20 is spot on. I think that it won’t be close early and the Hoos and Canes trade scores late. Prediction: Miami 42, UVa 21.