Image by Tony Capobianco
The Miami Hurricanes faced the 20th ranked Virginia Cavaliers under the Friday night lights at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami is on a downward trajectory with a 2-3 record overall and are winless in two ACC contests.
Despite being unranked the Hurricanes enter the game as a slight favorite even though Virginia sits at 4-1 (2-0), their only defeat was at No. 10 Notre Dame 35-20 last weekend.
Miami has yet to play a complete game and finish - whether it is sacks, penalties, or missed field goals they are finding ways to lose.
Virginia has one solid win on their 2019 resume so far, a 30-14 victory to open the season at Pitt. Their other ACC win came against a bad Florida State team three weeks ago.
Where Miami has an advantage is on run defense against a suspect Virginia ground game which ranks 116th in college football.
One of the few strengths of the Hurricanes on defense has been their run defense which ranks 7th nationally.
Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins is a dual threat and the Miami linebackers must do a better job of tackling in space to contain him when he gets outside the pocket.
Like the Hurricanes, Virginia's offensive line is a sieve having allowed 15 sacks in five games. Notre Dame dropped Perkins eight times last week, if the Miami pass rush has a chance to shine this is the week to do so.
Gregory Rousseau needs more reps, plain and simple.
Manny Diaz stated he would be getting more involved with the defense moving forward. They need to pick up the blitzing from the last couple of years when Diaz was defensive coordinator.
A retooled secondary has been exposed against mediocre quarterbacks and needs some help from the front seven. Miami only has three interceptions all season, turnovers change momentum and give a sometimes listless defense life.
N'Kosi Perry steps back into the starting quarterback spot after Jarren Williams was sidelined with an upper extremity injury. Perry almost led a ferocious comeback against Virginia Tech, perhaps some of that momentum can carry over against the Cavaliers.
Virginia has a solid run defense of their own (15th) but did allow Tony Jones, Jr. of the Fighting Irish to rack up 131 yards and three touchdowns on just 18 carries (7.3 YPC).
Dan Enos must stick with DeeJay Dallas even if the big runs aren't there early. We documented the questionable play calling and run/pass ratio against Virginia Tech which put a heavy burden on Williams in that game. Perry could use some balance from the running game to help open up opportunities in the air.
Last year Perry had a game to forget against Virginia, being benched after completing just 3-of-6 attempts and two interceptions. Miami would like nothing more than to avenge that 16-13 defeat which began a four game losing streak.