Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer stood in front of his team last Saturday night in a cramped Lane Stadium locker room minutes after the Hokies’ 23-3 loss to Clemson and delivered a simple message that was captured by the coach’s official Web site.
“You write it down,” Beamer told his team. “We’ll get them in the ACC championship game.”
Making another run to Charlotte is a very real possibility, but to do so Virginia Tech would be best served getting back on track Saturday against Miami. As of now, with games against Coastal Division rivals Miami, North Carolina and Georgia Tech still on the horizon, the Hokies control their own destiny in terms of a division title
This week, though, is particularly important for Virginia Tech’s sagging offense. The Hokies have scored one touchdown over the past six quarters, and have struggled throwing the ball and turning a powerful running game into points.
With first-year starter Logan Thomas still getting his bearings, I wouldn’t expect drastic improvement in the passing game this week — even though wide receiver Marcus Davis’s foot injury should allow him to play more than the six plays he participated in last week.
But after Beamer said this week Thomas’s left shoulder isn’t affecting the team’s game plan, chances are the 6-foot-6, 254-pound signal-caller will have more designed runs this week, something Miami Coach Al Golden said his coaches were preparing for. Don’t be surprised if both junior David Wilson and redshirt senior Josh Oglesby also see a heavy workload facing the Hurricanes’ 105th-ranked rushing defense.
For the Hokies defense, the key will be slowing down the Hurricanes’ dynamic running back, Lamar Miller. If Miami can’t establish a ground game, it will allow defensive coordinator Bud Foster to dial up plenty of pressure on quarterback Jacory Harris, who has a penchant for throwing the ball to the opposing team.
Let’s not forget, though, that when Virginia Tech beat Miami, 31-17, last year, the score was a bit deceiving. The Hurricanes had six turnovers and were without Harris at quarterback, but they gained 464 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per play.
Then again, this year’s Miami team is still recovering from losing nine players to suspension (all but one, including safety Ray Ray Armstrong, will be back for this game) and struggled early against Bethune-Cookman last week before pulling away in the second half. Even the Hurricanes’ 24-6 win over Ohio State earlier in the year isn’t what it seems considering the Buckeyes might have the worst passing game in the country this season.
This one isn’t going to be pretty, and I’d guess now it won’t satisfy some of the critics of the offense who emerged after last week’s performance against Clemson. But I think the Hokies’ defense has shown too much improvement for this team to fall out of the Coastal division race after just two conference games. Not to mention, Virginia Tech hasn’t lost two straight games at Lane Stadium since 2002.
My prediction: Virginia Tech 20, Miami 13