Virginia Tech’s Top 5 Toughest 2014 Opponents: #4 Miami


Nov 1, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer (right) watches from the sideline during the third quarter against Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium. Miami won 30-12. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue our countdown of the Hokies’ toughest five opponents, we look at the fourth toughest opponent for the Hokies, the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami and Virginia Tech are two of the four main contenders for the ACC Coastal title along with Duke and North Carolina. Of course, the only one of those top ACC Coastal rivals that the Hokies face at home are the Hurricanes which pushed them to fourth. On top of that, this game is on a Thursday Night and there is no doubt that it will be an extremely tough environment in Blacksburg, especially after the Hokies did not host a Thursday Night football game last season.

Oct 26, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) runs the ball against Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Mike Olson (41) in the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Miami is a talented team with some big time players on offense and defense. Duke Johnson is the star on offense for the Hurricanes and is one of the top 5 to 7 running backs in all of college football while being the ACC’s best running back which was validated by his spot on the Preseason All-ACC team.

Johnson can do some damage between the tackles but he is very explosive and is especially dangerous in space on pitch plays and options. Johnson has great explosiveness, acceleration, agility, and speed which makes him hard to handle and a very dangerous weapon. Johnson has averaged over 6 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons and will be a tough but possible challenge for the Hokies to contain.

Jake Heaps seems like the most likely person to be Miami’s starting quarterback and that could be an issue for the Hurricanes. However, Miami does have a couple of quality weapons in wide receiver Stacy Coley and tight end Clive Walford. These two players are both decently dangerous weapons but the Hokies can definitely slow down Coley with Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson covering him. Walford is a tougher matchup and will likely require one of Fuller and Facyson to cover.

Miami also has some quality talent on defense led by middle linebacker Denzel Perryman who likely will be picked in the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. Perryman had a breakout season last year with 108 tackles and 5 tackles for loss. Perryman received the most votes of any linebacker for the 2014 Preseason All-ACC team. Perryman will be quite important to the success of the Hurricanes and his leadership will be needed if Miami is to try to shut down the Hokies’ offense.

Tracy Howard is probably the best cornerback that doesn’t play for Virginia Tech or Florida State and Howard will be matched up most likely on Joshua Stanford. Howard is going to look to get revenge in this game on Stanford if that is the matchup but Stanford will not let that happen. Anthony Chickillo is a solid all-around defensive end though he is a slightly above-average run defender and an average pass rusher.

Nov 9, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Joshua Stanford (5) scores a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes in the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

This won’t be the easiest matchup but the Hokies’ offense should be clicking some by this point in the season and the Hokies should be able to do damage through the air with the load of talent at wide receiver led by Joshua Stanford. This should open up some room for Trey Edmunds to get to the second level of the Miami defense and average around 5 yards per carry.

Defensively, the Hokies will have some problems containing Duke Johnson who is too good of a player not to do some damage but Johnson will not have a big performance. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will make Miami one-dimensional on offense with the Hurricanes being overpowered by Virginia Tech’s strong secondary led by Kendall Fuller who will shut down Stacy Coley.

Lastly, this is the return of Thursday Night Football to Blacksburg after not hosting a game in 2012 and Lane Stadium will be extremely tough to play like it has always been. This game would probably be closer if it was in Miami but playing at home on a Thursday Night will make this a two possession victory for the Hokies.