CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – It’s been a tough few weeks for the University of Miami football team.
The banged up and bruised Miami Hurricanes go on the road to ACC rival Virginia Tech for a Thursday 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Canes are trying to break a 2-game losing streak, while Virginia Tech is coming off a disappointing loss to Syracuse.
Injuries are a big concern for Miami, especially on the defensive line where Gerald Wills and Demetrius Jackson are not expected to play and Chad Thomas is listed as questionable.
Despite the adversity, head coach Mark Richt expects his team to be ready to play.
“Everybody understands in the game of football, injuries happen,” said Richt. “There’s attrition for different reasons, in the collegiate game especially. I think everybody has done a good job of focusing on the moment, focusing on what’s important. I don’t have an issue or a concern right now with that. I think with this fast of a turnaround, it’s hard for everybody to catch their breath a little bit – physically and mentally. But Virginia Tech is going through the same thing. They’re coming off a loss which wasn’t exciting for them, and they have to turn around quick as well.”
Virginia Tech has a new coach as Justin Fuente replaced long time coach Frank Beamer. Fuente’s expertise is explosive offense.
In four of six games this year the Hokies have acquired 450 or more total yards.
They’re led by 6’4”, 240 pound quarterback Jerod Evans who has a bevy of receivers to throw to.
Isaiah Ford has 22 career touchdown receptions and Bucky Hodges at 6’7” has over 100 career catches and created nightmare matchup problems for defenders.
The Canes offense needs to stop with the self-inflicted wounds. Penalties, dropped passes and missed assignments have hurt Miami’s offensive production.
Quarterback Brad Kaaya is completing 62 percent of his passes, but at times has seemed off his game.
“I think he has done pretty well, for the most part,” said Richt. “We don’t grade passing percentages as much as we grade accuracy. If a play is protected well and he’s directing a ball to a receiver, if he throws it on the money – whether he catches it or not – he’ll get a positive grade for his accuracy. It doesn’t take into account if a ball bounces off a guy’s hand or whatever it may be. An accuracy grade, most of the time, is higher than a pass percentage grade. He has missed a couple of shots, but if you watch anyone across America, even in the NFL, not everybody hits it right on the money. I think he’s adjusted well. He has a lot of responsibility in the run game. He gets us in the right plays. He handles some of our protection issues, as far as helping everybody understand who they’re assigned to. And he’s really been a very good leader for us.”
The Virginia Tech defense is always top shelf and this year is no exception. The Hokies are allowing 18 points per game and just 113 yards per game on the ground.
Virginia Tech plays an ‘I dare you’ defense. They play man to man and dare you to beat them deep.
The Miami wide receiving corps must break free of the coverage and finish their receptions in the end zone.
Big plays for touchdowns are what will win this game.