Blacksburg, VA – After dropping their ACC-opener for the ranked Virginia Tech Hokies seek a quick turnaround, as they welcome the Miami Hurricanes to Blacksburg for league action at Lane Stadium this weekend.
Frank Beamer's Hokies closed out non-conference play with a perfect 4-0 mark, but were no match for the surprising Clemson Tigers last weekend in Blacksburg, suffering a 23-3 defeat.
Beamer was pleased with his defense, but critical of the offense and special teams in the loss.
"Defensively, we were good except for a couple of long plays. But overall, I thought we hung in there. We just couldn't take advantage of some opportunities offensively, and the kicking game couldn't give us field position the way we like for it to."
Al Golden's first season with Miami has already had its ups and downs. The Hurricanes have alternated wins and losses over the first four games, but enter this contest off a 45-14 rout of Bethune-Cookman, to pull to 2-2 on the year. Miami is already 0-1 in ACC action, suffering a 32-24 defeat at Maryland in the season-opener.
This is the 29th all-time meeting in this series. Miami holds a 17-11 series advantage, but the Hokies have won the last two meetings, including a 31-17 decision last year at Miami to clinch the Coastal Division.
It is tough to get a true gauge of Miami's offense off of last week's performance against Bethune-Cookman, as the Hurricanes were simply better in every phase of the game, following a sluggish start. On the season, Miami is averaging a modest 369.0 yards per game, leading to nearly 30 points (29.2 ppg).
Quarterback Jacory Harris missed the opener, but has been effective the rest of the way, completing 69 percent of his throws, for 570 yards and six TDs. The senior gunslinger has a healthy 155.9 passer rating. Senior wideout Travis Benjamin (15 receptions, for 170 yards, one TD) leads the way downfield, although junior Tommy Streeter (12 catches, 213 yards, three TDs) certainly has big play ability.
It certainly helps to have a strong rushing attack to keep opposing defenses honest. Sophomore tailback Lamar Miller has been a force on the ground, averaging 127.8 yards per game, on 6.7 yards per carry. He is the first back in school history to eclipse over 100 yards in each of his first four games of a season.
The Hurricanes have been strong against the pass this season (179.8 ypg), but that is due in large part to the team's inability to stop opposing ground games. Miami has given up huge chunks of real estate to runners this year and is allowing 202.2 yards per game on 5.0 yards per carry.
Despite missing the first game of the season, All-American candidate Sean Spence leads the team in tackles. The senior LB has 28 stops on the year, with 5.0 TFLs and two sacks.
The Hokies are sure to test Miami's suspect run defense, as that is the preferred mode of travel for the Virginia Tech offense. The Hokies are getting it done at almost 200 yards per game (196.0) and 4.5 yards per carry. Junior tailback David Wilson has been a true workhorse, averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 127.8 yards per game. He is also tied for the team-lead in rushing touchdowns (five) with backup Josh Oglesby.
Quarterback Logan Thomas was ineffective in the loss to Clemson last weekend, but has been better for much of the season. He is completing 56.8 percent of his throws to date and has a plethora of receivers to go to, headlined by Danny Coale (23 receptions, 326 yards, one TD), D.J. Coles (18 catches, 200 yards, one TD), Jarrett Boykin (13 catches, 103 yards, one TD) and Marcus Davis (nine catches, 185 yards, two TDs).
Despite the struggles against Clemson last weekend, the Hokies remain one of the more productive defensive units in the nation. The team is allowing just 12.6 ppg this year on a mere 249.6 yards of total offense. The stop unit has been particularly strong against the run, allowing just 58.2 ypg on just 2.0 ypc.
Linebackers Bruce Taylor and Tariq Edwards pace the team with 33 and 31 tackles, respectively. Rush end J.R. Collins (20 tackles, 4.5 sacks) has been effective off the edge, while DBs Eddie Whitley (25 tackles, one INT), Kyle Fuller (19 tackles, one INT) and Jayron Hosley (19 tackles, three INTs) highlight the play in the secondary.