Preview: Virginia vs. Miami
By — Mark Giannotto,
Noon at Scott Stadium, Charlottesville TV: WJLA-7, WMAR-2. Radio: WSPZ (570 AM) Records: Hurricanes 5-4, 4-2 ACC; Cavaliers 3-6, 1-4.
KEEP HOPE ALIVE: After ending a six-game losing streak last week, Virginia retains a shot at a second straight bowl appearance. After its young defense forced six sacks and five turnovers at North Carolina State, the notion doesn’t seem completely unrealistic. Miami is in position to secure its first appearance in the ACC championship game after beating Virginia Tech last week. Another victory would prompt a decision from Miami’s administration as to whether the school should self-impose a postseason ban, given looming NCAA sanctions.
SLOWING DOWN DUKE: Miami has been up-and-down on offense, with the capability to explode for 651 yards one week (against North Carolina State back in September) and then average just 12.3 points the following three. It’s emblematic of a roster that features a plethora of youngsters in Coach Al Golden’s second season. The catalyst for the Hurricanes appears to be freshman running back Duke Johnson, a threat out of the backfield and on kick returns. In Miami’s five victories this season, Johnson has averaged close to 192 all-purpose yards. In the Hurricanes’ four losses, that number drops to less than 91 per game.
RUNNING WILD: Miami’s defense is historically bad this season, thanks in large part to the nation’s second-worst rushing defense. That would seem to play right into Virginia’s strengths. The Cavaliers rushed for a season-high 248 yards last week, and sophomore Kevin Parks has topped the 100-yard mark in two of his past three games.
— Mark Giannotto