Gameday has arrived as the Virginia Tech Hokies and Miami Hurricanes face off in an old-school Big East rivalry that has had some big games in its history. However, this game is not of that magnitude as the Hokies and Hurricanes both are looking for a win to help themselves get into the hunt to win the ACC Coastal.
Miami is never an easy matchup so here are our keys to the game for the Hokies against the Hurricanes.
Pound the Rock
The Miami Hurricanes have one of the worst rush defenses among power 5 schools, which was exposed last week against Florida State as Dalvin Cook absolutely dominated and carried the Seminoles to victory. This week, the Hokies need to follow the lead of Cook with Travon McMillian and Sam Rogers.
Opposing running backs are averaging 5 yards per carry against the Miami defense, and the Hokies need to go after the weak Miami front 7 early and often. The Hokies will need Wyatt Teller and the offensive line to keep it going this week with another strong performance against a beatable Miami team.
McMillian earned the starting running back job, and the Hokies need to stick with McMillian and not go back to the running back rotation that doesn’t work. McMillian has the potential to make game-changing plays at any second, and Miami’s secondary may have to be ready to prevent McMillian from getting some touchdowns.
Scot Loeffler needs to make sure that the Hokies pound the rock early and often against a Miami rush defense that has struggled. If the Hokies’ offensive line plays as well as they did last week, Virginia Tech may have one of its best rushing performances in a while.
Contain the Miami Rushing Attack
The Virginia Tech rush defense hasn’t been much better than the Hurricanes per carry, but Virginia Tech has the talent in the front 7 and has started to pick up their play. However, the Virginia Tech rush defense will be tested today by Miami running back Joseph Yearby.
Last week, Yearby was shut down by Florida State with 15 carries for 33 rushing yards after having over 100 rushing yards and averaging over 6.5 yards per carry in the previous three games against Florida Atlantic, Nebraska, and Cincinnati.
This week, the Hokies will need their rush defense to step up against the talented Yearby who will looking to bounce back. Last year, Virginia Tech’s rush defense was destroyed by Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards, and Bud Foster has likely shown some of his players that game tape to fire them up.
Last week, Matthew Dayes did some damage, but the Hokies prevented any big plays with Dayes having 66 yards on 14 carries. The Hokies will need linebackers Deon Clarke and Andrew Motuapuaka to do a great job of coming down from the second level to shut down the Canes’ rushing attack.
Virginia Tech will need the front 7 to step up and contain Yearby after Johnson and Edwards ran all over the Hokies last year.
Play With Emotion
It took way too long, but the Hokies finally started playing with energy and emotion last week starting in the second quarter against N.C. State on their way to an impressive 28-13 win. The question that remains is can the Hokies bring that level of energy and emotion consistently?
After last year’s humiliating home loss, the Hokies should be fired up to go out there and get some revenge against one of their biggest rivals on the road. However, the energy they showed against East Carolina and Pittsburgh makes that seem not so certain still.
Frank Beamer promised after the Pittsburgh loss that he would get this team playing with emotion and that came out last week. This week, Beamer and his coaching staff needs to make sure that this team is once again fired up to go get a big win on the road and get themselves back in the ACC Coastal hunt.
If this team comes out flat, the Hurricanes likely will be ready to cruise to victory. However, the Hokies will be the team to beat if they play with the same emotion that carried them to victory last week in comfortable fashion against the Wolfpack.
The question is what Virginia Tech team will show up this week. Hopefully, Beamer and the coaches can get the high-energy team that dominated N.C. State last week.