Given the parity this season in the ACC, it is fitting
that the league title will be won during the last conference game on the first
Saturday in December. While the rest of the ACC is at home watching, ninth
ranked Miami (8-2, 5-2) and tenth ranked Virginia Tech (9-2, 6-1) square off at
the Orange Bowl in a game that determines a BCS bid, likely to the Sugar Bowl,
and the conference champion. Even Big East Commish Mike Tranghese may
take a glance southward, assuming, of course, he can avert his eyes from the
potentially BCS determinative clash between Pitt(sburgh) and South Florida.
Miami, of course, has been the gold standard for college
football since its emergence as a national player in 1980, winning five national
championships in the last quarter century. Miami’s recent rosters have been
as, if not more, talented as any in college football history – just look at
their laundry list of NFL first round picks over the last four years.
Despite the Canes’ resume, the Hokies have asked no
quarter when playing them. VT had a five game winning streak in the series from
1995-1999, and the Hokies won 31-7 last year in a Lane Stadium night game
blowout, meaning that Tech has captured six of their last nine against UM.
However, the Hokies last two trips to the Orange Bowl have been ugly with the
Canes offense dominating both contests (41-21 in 2000, and 56-45 in 2002). This
season was not supposed to bring anything different as UM was ranked either
first or second in the league by virtually every preseason publication with the
Hokies falling between sixth and eighth.
Despite the high expectations, this season has been very
uneven for the Canes. They scratched out a win against Florida State early in
the season in the ACC conference opener, they survived with a furious comeback
in a Thursday night game versus Louisville, and they dropped back to back league
contests to unranked teams (at UNC and versus Clemson). Before the obituary
could be written, UM righted itself with a solid road win over Virginia and a
“Miami is back” type dismantling of Wake Forest.
I attribute Miami’s inconsistency this year to three
things: injuries, youth and slightly less talent than usual. The first two
issues are inexorably intertwined as the injuries have led UM to start, at one
time or another, 16 different sophomores or freshmen. In particular, on defense
Miami has young talent and the losses of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork,
linebackers Jonathan Wilma and D.J. Williams and free safety Sean Taylor have
made them much more susceptible up the middle than they have been in the past.
Remember that Miami lost a record six first round draft choices off last year’s
As usual, Miami’s offense has been balanced this year as
the Canes have run 364 times and passed 315. However, the Canes have been far
more productive in the air as they are first in the conference in passing
offense (250 yards per game) and only eighth in rushing with 142 per game. Miami
is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry, a far cry from the typical Miami ground
game. The Canes still score at a 34.3 per game clip, tops in the ACC, but some
of that credit has to go to their defense and special teams.
The leader of the offense is 6’1”, 215 SR quarterback
Brock Berlin. Berlin and Bryan Randall are the two leading candidates for ACC
Offensive Player of the Year, and Berlin’s resume is strong: he completes 57
percent of his passes for 237 yards per game (first in the league) with a superb
21:4 touchdown to interception ratio. Berlin has now gone 153 passes without an
interception. While Berlin’s numbers are attributable to some extent to the
talent around him, he isn’t the same player that had a 12:17 touchdown to
interception ratio last year and was completely thrown off his game in
Berlin has a strong, accurate arm and has greatly improved
his decision making. He does not have particularly good footwork and is more
comfortable operating out of the shotgun where he can just read the defense and
fire the ball without worrying about getting away from the center and taking his
drop. Berlin is a pocket passer and a rhythm quarterback.
Berlin is not mobile and the best way to defend him is to
force him out of his comfort zone by making him move in the pocket, or force him
to go to his second or third receiver.
As you would expect, UM has two good running backs. The
starter and main ballcarrier is 5’10”, 220 JR Frank Gore. I don’t make a
habit of rooting for Miami players, but Gore’s story is amazing. As a true
freshman he was an incredible talent leading Larry Coker to proclaim that Gore
was as good a running back as he had ever coached. That list includes Barry
Sanders, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, and Willis McGahee. Subsequently, Gore
had two straight seasons lost with major injuries in each knee and many people
thought he would never be back. Not only is Gore back, but he’ll get some
serious consideration for all conference honors and is reportedly mulling a jump
to the NFL.
Gore does not have the same incredible burst and breakaway
speed that made him a star as a freshman, but he still is a good cutback runner
who is very physical after increased time in the weight room (a necessary
byproduct of rehabilitation from his knee injuries). On the year Gore has 819
rushing yards, including eight touchdowns, and he averages 5.2 yards per carry.
Even though Gore doesn’t have the blinding burst he once did, he still has
very good speed and VT will have to take good angles on him in pursuit. Gore had
his best game against UVa with season highs in rushes (28) and yards (195).
Miami isn’t afraid to use Gore in the passing game, but he only has eight
catches on the season.
Gore’s backup is one time VT recruiting target Tyrone
Moss. Moss is a 5’10”, 221 SO who has a similar build to Gore but a
different style. Moss has a little less wiggle to him and is a workhorse type
back that gets better as he gets more carries. On the year, he is averaging 4.4
yards per carry, and he has five touchdowns. Moss hasn’t gotten as many
touches this year as many thought he would (approximately 10 carries per game),
but he is a capable back.
Miami’s secret weapon at tailback is versatile 5’11”,
185 SO Devin Hester. Initially Hester was a stud wide receiver recruit, but he
had some trouble grasping the offense last year and was moved to corner this
season. However, because of his game breaking ability Hester has seen time on
the offensive side of the ball too, starting to work a little at tailback.
Presumably, the extra time off has given Coach Coker a chance to integrate
Hester more into the offense.
Stud cornerback Antrel Rolle has called Hester the most
gifted player to come through Miami in his four years there, and that’s an
enormous endorsement. Hester was the Big East long jump champion last year and
is one of the fastest players in all of college football. He is not a natural
running back that will look to go between the tackles, but he is a great change
of pace back who will bounce plays outside and has the speed to get to the
corner. He might only take five offense snaps in this game, but pay attention
when he is in the game.
At fullback the starter is 6’2”, 250 SR Talib
Humphrey. Humphrey is a good lead blocker who rarely touches the ball. He did
have three big catches in the UVa win, including a touchdown, but he only has
four catches on the season and hasn’t been a primary threat for the Canes.
Reliable Quadtrine Hill also plays at fullback. Hill, a 6’2”,
221 JR, isn’t a battering ram Alonzo Highsmith/Melvin Bratton/Najeh Davenport
type, but rather a quick, elusive runner who started out as a tailback and still
sees some time there. Hill averages two carries per game, 5.6 per carry, and is
often a “hot” read on blitzes as he has 13 catches for 69 yards and a
Miami’s lineage at tight end is unparalleled as Bubba
Franks, Jeremy Shockey and the Chosen One were all first round draft picks.
While 6’6”, 251 SR Kevin Everett doesn’t have that type of talent, he is
an excellent player who has had a breakout year. Everett is second on the team
with 21 catches for 297 yards, an impressive 14.1 yards per catch. Everett is a
big target who has enough speed to run seam routes. Miami is not afraid to run
two tight end sets, and 6’6”, 247 R-FR Greg Olsen is the future (16
catches/17.2 per catch/1 touchdown). Even third string 6’5”, 224 JR Buck
Ortega has six catches this year. VT will have to be cognizant of the tight
end(s) in this game, much like they were against Maryland and Virginia.
The Miami receivers have been inconsistent this season,
but there is no doubt that they have big play potential. The leading receiver is
5’9”, 172 JR Roscoe Parrish. Parrish is sixth in the ACC averaging 3.6
catches per game, and he leads the conference with eight touchdown grabs.
Parrish has great speed and quickness and that is reflected in his high per
catch average, 17.1 yards, which is third in the conference. Darnell Jenkins is
another smallish (5’10”, 183 SO) wide receiver, although he isn’t the big
play guy that Parrish is as he only averages 11.4 yards on 20 catches this year.
The freshman star of the group is 6’4”, 174 Lance
Leggett from Texas. Leggett has the speed to take any catch to the end zone and
has ideal red zone height as well. He is starting to emerge as a larger part of
the offense and has cracked the starting lineup. On the year he has 14 catches
for 302 yards (21.2 per catch) and four touchdowns; his one touchdown per 3.5
receptions is indicative of his big play potential. With some weight room time,
he should develop into an NFL first round draft choice.
Miami has three other receivers who will play significant
snaps: 5’8”, 182 JR Sinorice Moss (brother of Santana) who has 18 catches
for an 18.8 per catch average and three touchdowns; Ryan Moore, a 6’3”, 215
SO who has 5 catches for 31 yards and a touchdown; and 6’4” 188 SO Akieem
Jolla who has 15 catches for an 8.2 average and one touchdown.
Moss is the perfect slot receiver, a quick, darting type
who is capable of getting big yards after the catch. Hokie fans may remember
Moore from his 7 catch, 101 yard effort last year in Blacksburg. Moore was
expected to blossom into a star, but he has struggled for the balance of the
season. He had three drops versus FSU in the season opener and then was injured.
He finally returned to action last week against Wake and had a touchdown, and he
should be a big factor this week with two weeks of rest. I expect Moore to play
a lot this week and to make an impact. Jolla has talent, but he is the sixth
wide receiver in the rotation so he likely won’t be a big factor Saturday.
The common denominator among Miami’s wideouts is speed.
They have had problems with consistency in route running and catching the
football (see the UVa game), and that is one of the unknowns in this game. If
the wide receivers catch the ball well, especially out of the slot on early
downs, they could generate some big plays with yards after the catch. If they
treat the ball like a hand grenade, Berlin may start to get happy feet and focus
on getting the ball to the tight ends and running backs which limits the big
play potential of the offense.
Miami’s offensive line is simply not up to its usual
standards. They have lost two starters, most notably stud JR left tackle Eric
Winston. Winston projected as a top ten pick pre-injury, and he still may be a
first rounder if he elects to leave despite not playing this year.
The numbers bare out the fact that this is not a typical
Miami line. In addition to their 3.9 yards per rush average, the Canes have
surrendered 22 sacks on the year. While that number is still good enough for
fourth in the ACC, it is a far cry from the days of Bryant McKinnie and company
The line returns two starters from last year, and they are
the leaders. 6’5”, 300 SR Chris Myers is one of the returning starters. He
is physically and mentally tough, and undoubtedly one of the leaders of the
office. He was probably more effective at right guard last year than he has been
at right tackle this season, but the Canes don’t have the players on the line
to allow him to slide inside. 6’3”, 292 SR center Joel Rodriguez is the
center of the line, literally and figuratively, and he is smart, athletic and
The left tackle is 6’5”, 274 JR Rashad Butler. While
undersized, Butler’s strength is his run blocking as he has a good initial
blow. Butler now has six starts under his belt, and he has been getting
progressively more comfortable. 6’5”, 317 R-FR right guard Derrick Morse
probably wasn’t ready for such a prime time role this early in his career, but
when JUCO transfer Tyler McMeans (6’5”, 337 JR) was injured he was pressed
into duty. Morse has started the last three games so he played some good
competition. However, a near 100% Jonathan Lewis, if that happens, or a Jim
Davis will be a very tough match, so I expect Rodriguez to move down and double
team when practicable. Left guard Tony Tella (6’5”, 298 JR) has shown steady
improvement all year and has started every game. As with most of the line, his
strength is as a run blocker.
I think the Miami offensive line will struggle to block VT’s
first team defensive line, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canes were more
conservative than usual in this game. If they do throw, they probably will use
play action on first down to give their linemen a better chance to pass block,
rather than wait until obvious passing downs.
As noted in last year’s preview, Miami Defensive
Coordinator Randy Shannon isn’t going to throw too many wrinkles into the game
plan. Even when his defense was struggling in a three game stretch against
Louisville, N.C. State and UNC, Miami lined up in their traditional 4-3 and made
people block them.
Miami is only seventh in the conference in total defense
surrendering 323 yards per game, 157 of which come on the ground (3.9 per carry)
and 167 through the air. Miami is fourth in the league in pass efficiency
defense, and fourth overall in scoring defense allowing 17.8 points per game.
Much like the Hokies, Miami rotates its defensive linemen
to try to keep them fresh. The guy that Miami thought would be the bell cow up
front his year is 6’4”, 301 JR defensive tackle Orien Harris, but, frankly,
Harris hasn’t played as well as many expected. His numbers have been good for
an interior guy – 37 tackles, eight for a loss, 2.5 sacks, but he hasn’t
developed into a Vince Wilfork type force. He has suffered some from the injury
to fellow starter Santonio Thomas (6’4”,308 SR).
Thomas was Wilfork’s backup last year and is a talented
player who has suffered through an injury plagued career at UM. Thomas hasn’t
played since the N.C. State game when he sprained his left knee, but he says he’ll
be ready to go against the Hokies. Defensive line coach Greg Mark said that he
expects Thomas to play 15-20 plays against VT, but Thomas himself thinks he’ll
exceed that number. His value goes beyond his statistics (10 tackles on the
year, three for a loss, 1 sack) and his return should make the run defense more
stout. In the first six games of the year, Miami only allowed an average of
132.8 yards per game and three rushing touchdowns. In the four without Thomas,
the Canes surrendered up an average of 192.5 rushing yards per game and eight
rushing touchdowns. While that statistic certainly does indicate Thomas’
value, it is also worth noting that two of the last four games have featured
very good offensive lines and running games (UNC and UVa).
Starting in place of Thomas the last few games has been 6’4”,
263 SO Baraka Atkins. Atkins is UM’s Jim Davis as he has the versatility to
play anywhere on the line. Atkins started the first seven games at left
defensive end, and he has since moved inside to left defensive tackle.
Atkins is a good athlete who is capable of getting
penetration, but he is not a natural defensive tackle and sometimes fails to
secure his gap. On the season he has 17 tackles, including five for a loss, and
he leads the team with 3.5 sacks. One benefit of playing Atkins inside is that
it allows Miami to have their best possible pass rushers on the field at all
times. If Thomas is ready to go, expect Atkins to play at both end and tackle.
Depth on the inside is provided by 6’5”, 301 JR Kareem
Brown (24 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) and 6’0”, 286 R-FR Teraz McCray (14
tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks). Brown started a game early this season and receives
Not counting Atkins, four players rotate at defensive end
for the Hurricanes. The starters are 6’5”, 230 JR Thomas Carroll and 6’4”,
257 SO Bryan Pata. Carroll has started almost all season at either end position,
but right now he is playing the left end spot. On the year he has 33 tackles,
6.5 TFL and two sacks. Pata is only two years removed from high school but he’s
a terrific talent who is best rushing the passer. On the year Pata has 11
tackles, 3 TFL and 2 sacks.
The backups are JR Javon Nanton (6’3”, 240, 18
tackles) and Alton Wright (6’4”, 230 SR, 15 tackles, 5 TFL and three sacks).
Nanton has a couple of starts, and Wright has produced a lot of negative plays
relative to his playing time.
Miami’s linebackers are strong and fast, but they miss
the intangibles and leadership provided by Jonathan Vilma last year. In an
effort to solidify the middle, UM moved their best linebacker, 6’3”, 237 JR
Roger McIntosh, from strong side backer to middle linebacker and he has played
well in the spot. McIntosh is second on the team with 81 tackles including 7.5
for a loss and 2.5 sacks. McIntosh runs well and has enough size to capably fill
holes in the running game. He has by far the most game experience of any UM
Taking McIntosh’s spot on the outside for the last three
games has been redshirt freshman Jon Beason (6’1”, 220). Beason has a lot of
physical ability and runs particularly well. He also has great leadership
skills, and he may eventually assume Vilma’s role. As with any young player,
Beason is sometimes slow to diagnose plays or be overaggressive in pursuit, and
VT may look to take advantage of his matchup versus the Hokie tight ends. He has
22 tackles, including three for a loss, this season.
The weakside linebacker this year is Tavares Gooden (6’1”,
220 SO). Gooden is third on the team with 63 tackles (5.5 for a loss) and he is
solid against both the run and the pass.
Junior Leon Williams (6’4”, 237 JR, 22 tackles, 4.5
for a loss, 2.5 sacks) is the only backup linebacker with any experience, but
the Miami coaches like strong side linebacker Glenn Cook (6’1”, 222 R-FR, 14
tackles, 5 TFL) and true freshman Romeo Davis (6’3”, 215) a lot.
The Canes started the season with a lot of new blood in
the secondary, and the results have been somewhat inconsistent. While everyone
in the backfield can make plays, they also have given up some big plays.
The best player and a top 10 player on most NFL draft
charts is right corner Antrel Rolle (6’1”, 202 SR). Rolle returned to UM
despite having a first round grade last year, and he is the prototypical big,
physical corner. He is one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award given to the
best defensive back in the country.
Rolle loves to jam receivers at the line and ride them
down the field, and he usually gets the benefit of the doubt with referees.
Rolle has been injured, although all indications are that he’ll be ready to go
this Saturday. He lacks great catchup speed, and if a wide receiver can release
cleanly they will have a chance for a big play. Rolle has 48 tackles, including
6.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one interception on the year. Miami has been known
to bring him on corner blitzes.
The left corner is manned by 6’0”, 177 JR Kelly
Jennings. Jennings isn’t as physical as Rolle at the line of scrimmage
although he still has the ability to play bump and run; he is more the pure
cover corner type. He has 27 tackles and an interception this year.
Strong safety Greg Threat (6’2”, 193 JR) is the Canes
leading tackler on the season with 97 stops. He also leads the team with three
interceptions, so he has the ability to play the run and the pass. Miami usually
only plays seven in the box, but Threat has the size and speed to attack the
running game even when he starts at “normal” strong safety depth.
Talented Brandon Merriweather (6’1”, 184 SO) took over
for Sean Taylor at free safety and he has demonstrated solid range in pass
coverage. However, he lacks Taylor’s aggressiveness in run support.
Merriweather has been slowed with injuries, and Anthony Reddick (6’0”, 188,
T-FR) has started four games in his place. Reddick is a talent, but in an ideal
world (read: Miami the last three years) the Cane coaches would have limited his
work to special teams this year. Regardless of who plays the position, it has
been productive as Meriweather has 50 tackles this year and Reddick has 52. At
this point, Meriweather is the better pass defender because of his experience (2
interceptions, a team leading six passes broken up).
Miami uses a lot of nickel and dime packages, and Hester
will likely be the third corner in the game. He has blinding speed but isn’t
polished in his technique. He does have three interceptions on the season, and
he has the natural ability to excel at the position. The other corner that plays
is 6’3”, 198 JR Marcus Maxey. Maxey has great size, but he is not as quick
as the typical UM corner.
Miami’s defensive backfield is very tall and fast, but
they are not as polished as some of their predecessors. Big plays are available,
but VT will have to balance controlling the ball with attacking the secondary.
Miami’s Special Teams
If Miami offered VT a draw in this area pregame, I think
Coach Beamer would take it in a heartbeat. Special teams is perhaps the biggest
area of concern for me, particularly Miami’s return specialists. Both Devin
Hester and Roscoe Parrish are big time players in space.
Hester might not be at the head of the class as a kick
returner, but it doesn’t take long to call roll (Reggie Bush, Ted Ginn, Jr.).
He averages 19.8 yards per punt return and has taken three back to the house.
Bear in mind that no one kicks to him (only 16 returns this year), so he is
averaging roughly a touchdown every five punt returns.
Because people weren’t kicking to him, UM put Parrish
back there as well in a dual safety format and he has averaged a paltry 15.4
yards per return with “only” one touchdown (against UVa). Miami’s team
average of 17.6 yards per punt return, against top notch competition, is
Kickoffs have not been as good to the Canes. Hester has
averaged 26.8 per return with a one hundred yard touchdown thrown in for good
measure among his eleven returns. Darnell Jenkins is the other deep man, and
most teams have kicked to him with success (13 returns/averages a poor 13.5
yards per return). Miami’s kickoff returns have only averaged 18.4 yards this
year, but if Hester is back there the potential is always there to break one.
Miami’s kicking game is solid too. SO Jon Peattie hit
some big kicks last year, but this season has been more of a struggle. He is
12-21 on the season with four misses inside 40 yards. He has the leg to kick a
fifty plus yarder, but is 0-3 on attempts from that distance. He has had one
SO Brian Monroe handles punts and has been good this year.
He hasn’t had any blocked and the net punting average is a good 38.4 yards. If
Eddie Royal is going to return punts this week, he must be sure to catch the
ball cleanly because the UM coverage people will be on him very quickly.
With their athletes, Miami is always a threat to block a
punt. In fact, in addition to his four touchdown returns Hester has a blocked
punt this season. On the year Miami has blocked three kicks.
Monroe handles kickoffs and the coverage has been good.
Miami holds its opponents under 20 yards per return (19.6).
Miami has eight non-offensive touchdowns this year, two
more than VT. If either team can generate points in special teams, it will go a
long way towards deciding the winner.
Miami’s plus 1.4 turnover margin is not only the best in
the ACC, but one of the best in the nation. VT has done a terrific job of
avoiding turnovers lately, and continuing that trend will be essential in the
Offensively, I think VT will be able to run the ball with
some success against Miami. Even with the return of Thomas, this isn’t a
vintage UM team inside and the Hokies’ running game is coming together at the
right time. Imoh, if he’s healthy, and Humes are a nice change of pace.
The importance of left tackle Jimmy Martin cannot be
underestimated. He is an experienced, talented left tackle that can handle Miami’s
defensive ends. If his ankle injury won’t allow him to play, Reggie Butler has
to step in. While Butler has some experience, he simply doesn’t have the same
footwork to deal with off the edge rushers. Starting Butler at tackle also
substantially weakens the depth at guard. VT has a number of significant
injuries coming into this game, but in my opinion Martin’s injury, both
because of his position and the lack of depth, causes the most concern.
The Hokies should work the tight ends on third down
situations, and I believe that Coach Stinespring will look to go deep on play
action on some early downs, especially when the Hokies have good field position.
If Miami uses man coverage, also expect Bryan Randall’s
legs to be a key. UM is susceptible to running quarterbacks, and I believe that
Randall will have designed runs on 5-8 plays in addition to traditional option
As previously noted, assuming the Hokies are healthy up
front (particularly Jonathan Lewis) I think VT’s front four has the edge on UM’s
offensive line. Gore will get some yards, and he may even break a big one, but I
doubt he will consistently gash VT for 4-6 yard runs.
I think the key for Coach Foster’s group will be
limiting Miami’s big plays in the passing game. The Hokie defensive backs will
have to play the ball in the air very well given the size of Moore, Leggett and
Jolla. Eric Green, James Griffin and Jimmy Williams (last week) all have been in
position to make interceptions at different points this year, but haven’t been
able to secure the ball for one reason or another.
No discussion of a UM-VT game would be complete without
addressing the scoring of special teams and the respective defenses. From the
Hokie perspective, Coach Beamer has a very tough decision as to whether to keep
the ball in play against UM’s return guys.
The book says that a coach should always kick away and
show faith in his special teams, but in this one circumstance I would go against
the book and kick the ball away from Hester and Parrish at every opportunity. VT’s
kickoff return unit has given up big plays recently to both UNC and UVa. If
Hester gets a seam like that, it is six points. I would rather give Miami the
ball at their 35 and make them move the ball 65 yards for a touchdown than take
my chances with a return. Jared Develli has done a solid job this year, but
Hester is fearless and will bring back kicks from five yards deep in the end
Likewise, if I was Coach Beamer I would have Vinnie Burns
angle punts out of bounds. If we have to kick to either Hester or Parrish, I
would rather take my chances with Roscoe. Again, this isn’t intended to
condemn VT’s coverage team, but Miami is such a threat on special teams that I
would rather have a 25 yard punt out of bounds than kick a 45 yarder and permit
a Miami return.
While I have spent a significant amount of time discussing
UM’s non-offensive scoring opportunities, keep in mind VT has a history of
scoring on the Canes using atypical methods as well. Last year DeAngelo Hall and
Eric Green both scored defensive touchdowns, in 2002 Willie Pile had a 96 yard
touchdown return on UM’s classy halfback option play call, in 2001 Brandon
Manning scored after a blocked punt by Eric Green, and in 1999 Ricky Hall
returned a punt for a touchdown. The X factor in this game is which team can get
“cheap” points on the other.
There are a whole lot of reasons to pick against the
Hokies in this one. Too many injuries for VT, a talented and finally healthy
Miami team, the game in the Orange Bowl where UM beat VT up the last two visits,
but in the end I simply can’t bring myself to pick the Canes. As Will said
last week, this team has Uncle Mo and I’m putting my money on him.
Prediction: VT 27, UM 24
Will Stewart's Take: At
first, when I thought about this game, I thought, "It's been a nice run for
the Hokies, but I can't see them winning in the Orange Bowl. Miami takes VT
seriously, and they'll be ready to play. They let UNC (on the road) and Clemson
(at home) get away with one, but they'll be ready for VT."
And then I asked myself a question: At what point do you
finally believe? Without getting wrapped up in the X's and O's, matchups and
injuries, at what point do you simply believe? Believe in the team to meet
adversity, believe in the leaders to come through, and believe in players to
make plays and coaches to coach. How many times do they have to surprise you and
exceed your expectations before you ... just believe?
Well, 11 games into it, I'm sold. I believe. I know the
strengths and weaknesses of each team. I know how Miami can win, and I know how
VT can win. But I believe the Hokies will win. If they lose, even if they get
(surprisingly) blown out, I'm not one to question the effort and intensity of
this Virginia Tech team and coaching staff. If Miami wins, more power to them,
but I'll gladly put this game and this outcome in the hands of Frank Beamer,
Bryan Randall, and company.
Will's Prediction: VT 24, Miami 21