Virginia Tech-Miami: Why The Hokies Clinch The ACC Coastal Against Hurricanes
The 16th ranked Hokies are on their way to another Coastal Division title and potentially their third ACC title in four years. All they have to do is beat Miami or Virginia in the next two weeks.
That's likely to happen, but will the Hokies beat the 24th ranked Hurricanes today?
The answer is yes. Why? There are a number of reasons, but the most important is Virginia Tech is by far the suprior team.
Everyone knows about the Hokies disappointing start to the season and everyone was sure to let them and their fans hear about their astounding loss.
Many people within the ACC don't feel the Hokies should be in a BCS game because of their loss to James Madison even though Frank Beamer's team has won eight straight and dominated the lack luster conference.
The Hokies and Hurricanes are the ACC's only ranked teams, but Miami is shorthanded. Yes, Miami's true freshman Stephen Morris has played well in his first two starts, but that was against Maryland and Georgia Tech.
You can say what you want about the Hokies defense this season, but they're playing good football right now.
The secondary is led by Jayron Hosley who's close to leading the nation in interceptions with seven. Hosley is also a huge threat in the punt return game, and his performance will be key in how the Hokies handle the Hurricanes.
Looking at Morris, he's played in the last three games for the Hurricanes after Harris went down with a concussion against Virginia. Morris' problem is interceptions. He's already thrown four and the Hokies defense is going to take advantage of his inexperience.
If Bud Foster's defense can get pressure on the freshman to rattle his nerves early in the game it's going to be hard for Miami to come out on top. That being said, Morris' biggest weapon is Leonard Hankerson. The senior has had a great season so far with 11 touchdowns and close to 900 receiving yards.
The Hokies have started slow on defense in the last few games, but then they've really shut down opposing offenses. Just look at the start of the North Carolina game for proof.
However, there are a number of times in the game where the Hokies will have blown coverage in the secondary and receivers will be running wide open. This can't happen against Miami.
Hankerson isn't going to drop a wide open pass, but the Hokies defensive front needs to make sure Morris has a hard time getting the ball to his top receiver.
Damien Berry is the Hurricanes top rushing threat, but freshman Lamar Miller gives the Canes a nice one-two punch in the backfield. As long as Foster isn't preparing for the triple-option offense he usually doesn't have trouble stopping the oppossing teams running backs.
That being said, Randy Shannon would love to see his rushing attack get going early to take the pressure off his quarterback.
Offensively the Hokies have the edge with senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor leading the way. He will go over 2,000 yards passing on the season after his first couple of pass completions and he's thrown for 18 touchdowns and four interceptions.
He's been the leader of the Hokies all season and without him under center this year, the squad would likely have four or more losses.
Darren Evans finally passed Taylor for the Hokies rushing lead, and the return of Ryan Williams should only help the Hokies rushing attack.
David Wilson, who missed last weeks game with mono, is also expected to play, but look for Evans and Williams to split most of the time in the backfield today.
The Hokies have to do a better job of scoring touchdowns in the red zone, which has been one of their biggest struggles recently. Kicker Chris Hazley kicked four field goals last week, including a 52 yarder. He's also made 18 straight field goals, tying him for the school record.
It's good the Hokies have a reliable weapon in the kicking game, but they need to make sure they're not using him within 20 yards of the endzone.
Taylor needs to look for his security blanket when entering the red zone, which has been tight end Andre Smith and running the ball efficiently in the red zone will be another key to their success.
The Hokies don't need to play a perfect game to defeat Miami and it's not like they're going into a hostile environment as far as fans are concerned. These two schools don't like each other and it's usually a great game or a blowout when they faceoff.
Last year, 9th ranked Miami came to Blacksburg to take on the 11th ranked Hokies and left with a 31-7 loss. A score like that could very well happen on Saturday, but the Hokies defense isn't as powerful as it was last season.
Miami leads the overall series 17-10, and when both teams are ranked the record is an even 5-5. Since Frank Beamer has been the head coach in Blacksburg, the Hokies have a winning record over Miami with 10 wins and nine losses, and the Hokies will add another "W" to the win column today.
Miami's Morris will make too many mistakes for the Hurricanes to overcome and the Hokies will pull away late.
Virginia Tech 30, Miami 21
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