vs. Miami

Noon, Scott Stadium, Charlottesville TV: ESPN. Radio: WSPZ (570 AM). Records: Cavaliers 3-4, 0-3 ACC; Hurricanes 5-2, 3-1.


If the Miami defense performs as stoutly Saturday as it typically has this season, Virginia senior quarterback Marc Verica could be in for a long day. Opposing quarterbacks have only a 87.7 passer rating against the Hurricanes, the worst mark in the country. Miami is averaging two interceptions and 3.6 sacks per game. That said, the composition and effectiveness of Virginia's offensive line will be of particular importance against the Hurricanes. Junior tackle Landon Bradley returned to practice this week after missing two games because of a broken right hand. Coach Mike London said Bradley has practiced at left tackle, where he started the first five games of the season, and at right tackle.


Virginia has allowed more than 250 rushing yards in three of the past four games and ranks No. 114 in the nation in rushing defense (211.4 yards per game allowed). Hurricanes senior tailback Damien Berry is averaging 92.6 rushing yards per game, second in the ACC. Sophomore tailback Mike James has earned more carries in recent weeks and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. After getting off to a slow start on the ground, Miami has rushed for more than 170 yards in each of its last four games.


In the Cavaliers' 48-21 victory over Eastern Michigan last week, Virginia scored touchdowns on a 56-yard fake-punt pass and on a 70-yard kickoff return. Facing a Miami squad that holds an edge on both sides of the ball, the Cavaliers would do well to generate some more special teams success again Saturday. Virginia leads the ACC in average kickoff return yardage (24 yards per return), and senior tailback Raynard Horne leads the conference in individual average kickoff return yardage (26.7). Miami allows an ACC-worst 23.4 yards per return, and Horne & Co. could provide Virginia consistently decent starting field position Saturday.

-- Steve Yanda

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