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Keys to victory: Virginia at Miami

Keys to victory: Virginia at Miami

Bennett Conlin's keys to victory for Saturday's matchup between Virginia and Miami.


» Hold Miami to short gains: The Hurricanes boast the athletes needed to generate chunk plays. Miami averages 35.6 points per game, and that stems from the play of athletic quarterback D’Eriq King. Miami uses tempo and athleticism to score points, but it also tends to throw short passes, counting on playmakers to make a tackler miss. UVa needs to keep the Hurricanes in front of them and tackle playmakers for short gains.

» Win the turnover battle: Virginia is 1-0 when it wins the turnover battle and 0-3 when it loses the statistical competition. UVa, which is dealing with injuries, needs to force turnovers and take care of the football to beat a more talented and confident Miami team.

» Start faster: Bronco Mendenhall’s team doesn’t need to start remarkably fast. The Cavaliers just need to avoid a massive first-quarter deficit. Through four games, the Wahoos have trailed by 10 or more points in the first quarter of every game. That can’t keep happening if UVa wants to snap its losing streak.


» Make UVa tackle in space for four quarters: Virginia’s linebackers and safeties are respectable tacklers, but the Cavaliers have made a few mistakes in each game that lead to long plays. If the Hurricanes keep the pressure up offensively with tempo, they should be able to force the occasional missed tackle or two that leads to a long gain. The Cavaliers faded late last week, missing tackles in the fourth quarter. They could do the same in this week’s fourth quarter if they’re worn down by tempo.

» Make Virginia’s quarterback beat you: Whether Brennan Armstrong plays or not for UVa, the Cavaliers struggle to find consistent passing success. Using three different quarterbacks last week, the Wahoos ran for over 200 yards. Taking away the run could force UVa’s inexperienced quarterbacks into passing situations. That typically leads to interceptions.

» Find your tight ends: Brevin Jordan is an NFL prospect at tight end, but he’s also battling a shoulder injury. If he misses Saturday’s game, the Hurricanes may try to get backup Will Mallory involved. He caught two passes for 51 yards last week against Pitt, with each reception going for a touchdown.

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