After two disappointing losses, Miami will face perhaps its toughest competition of the season when it travels to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers.
Virginia sits at 7-1 on the season and 4-1 in the ACC, good for the conference’s best record and a No. 10 ranking. The Cavaliers’ only loss came in Tallahassee against the Seminoles. On Oct. 7 Virginia defeated Clemson 30-10 and also beat North Carolina 56-24 in its second game of the season. Its most recent victory was a 16-0 shutout of Maryland last week.
In order to stop Virginia, Miami’s defense will have to play better. The Cavaliers run the ball very well with two different running backs in Wali Lundy and Alvin Pearman. The two backs have combined for 1,354 yards on the season and 20 touchdowns, so the Hurricanes will have a tough time stopping them, as Miami has struggled against the run in recent weeks.
“They are a power team and they have a good quarterback and good receivers, so they can do a little bit of everything,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “So I’m not sure what they will bring to the table for us.”
Cavaliers quarterback Marques Hagans has completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 1486 yards on the season.
Stopping the Cavaliers offense would be difficult for any team, but Miami’s defense has been struggling in recent weeks. To compound their problems, senior cornerback Antrelle Rolle missed practice on Tuesday and his status for the game is unknown.
“Devin will get the first shot at it and Marcus Maxey would step in as well. We have players there, but hopefully he will be able to play,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “I do know if the game was today, he would not be able to play.”
The good news for the Hurricane offense is that the injury suffered late in the Clemson game to running back Frank Gore does not appear to be serious. Gore practiced on Tuesday and should be ready to go on Saturday.
“Gore looks good. He ran really well and took everything in practice today,” Coker said.
A major issue in this game for Miami will be confidence. After dropping two straight games, the Hurricanes have to show resilience against a formidable Virginia team. They also won’t have the friendly Orange Bowl crowd in this game.
“We need to get our swagger back by winning. I want guys to have fun and enjoy this experience, but I’ve never seen losing be enjoyable. It is all about winning,” Coker said.
If the Hurricanes can win the rest of their games, they would still have a chance to win the ACC. Right now, however, the Hurricanes just need to worry about winning one game to get back on track.
“The main thing is preparation and having guys being enthusiastic and interested in what they need to do on and off the field,” Coker said. “When we take the field, we need to be confident in what we can do.”
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.