Game Preview: #10 Virginia Tech at #9 Miami
by Jeff Ouellet, 12/2/04

Saturday, December 4th, 2004, 1:00

TV: ABC National

Forecast (from
Game time forecast, as of 10:00 am Thursday: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, 0% chance of rain.

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 team.

Miami’s Offense

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 Blacksburg.

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 touchdown.

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 in 2001.

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 experienced.

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.

Miami’s Defense

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 more snaps.

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 linebacker.

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 astounding.

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 blocked.

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.

The Lowdown

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 Orange Bowl.

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 plays.

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 zone.

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

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