“After falling short Saturday, you don’t even have to wait a whole week to get another opportunity to play. So we’re looking forward to it. It’s a Thursday night game on a national stage. It’s a great opportunity to show the rest of the country what our program is all about and just go out there and get a win.”
— Virginia senior wide receiver Kris Burd
The Cavaliers haven’t played a Thursday night game since 2006, which means that not a single player currently on the team’s roster has experienced all the ancillary aspects that will accompany tonight’s contest at Miami. But, as Burd noted, the most important thing for Virginia is that the game allows Coach Mike London’s squad to rebound quicker than usual following Saturday’s 28-14 loss to North Carolina State.
The Hurricanes essentially are back at full strength now after suspensions associated with a booster scandal rocked the program at the season’s outset, and London noted Wednesday that first-year Coach Al Golden has done an impressive job holding everything together in Coral Gables as the football program has endured far-less-than-ideal circumstances in recent months.
“I’m seeing a team that’s playing with confidence and sort of with the storm that was over the program, it still may be there, but you couldn’t tell it the way that Coach Golden has rallied the troops,” London said. “Guys are playing hard down there.”
Indeed, Miami has won two straight games entering Thursday night’s contest, which will pit London and Golden – who previously worked together as assistants on former Virginia Coach Al Groh’s staff from 2001 to 2004 – against each other for the first time as head coaches of their own teams.
This game may come down to which defense can stop which opposing team’s rushing attack. Virginia has demonstrated vast improvement against the run this season, but the Cavaliers have yet to face a running back as dynamic as Miami’s Lamar Miller, who ranks No. 2 in the ACC in rushing (114.1 yards per game).
On the other hand, the Hurricanes – who rank No. 11 in the conference in rushing defense (179.4 ypg allowed) – must find a way to contain Virginia’s trio of serviceable tailbacks. The combination of Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson can be fairly dynamic, as well.
All that said, how do you think the Cavaliers will fare at Miami? A win Thursday would put Virginia one victory away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. As always, feel free to expand on your choice in the comments section below and/or e-mail me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.