Thursday Night Football: Virginia Tech at Miami
by Matt Severance - 11/12/2008
The bunched-up ACC Coastal Division might be a tad clearer after Thursday night when two of the three co-leaders, Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) and Miami (6-3, 3-2), face off in South Florida.
The Hokies, five-point underdogs at BetEd, probably won't know their starting quarterback until game time for the second consecutive Thursday. Heading into last Thursday's game against Maryland, both of Tech's top two quarterbacks, Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor, were questionable with ankle injuries.
Taylor, the running threat, didn't play, but Glennon, the pocket passer, did and played well, completing 70 percent of his passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. More important in the ball-control Virginia Tech offense, he did not throw an interception.
You know Frank Beamer wants Miami to prepare for both Hokie quarterbacks on Thursday, so he will only say that Glennon is healthy but that Taylor (who has been practicing) will be a game-time decision.
"We'll see (if Taylor's ready) when we warm up (Thursday)," Beamer said.
No matter who gets the ball under center, he no doubt will be handing off frequently to running back Darren Evans, who bulldozed through the Terrapins' defense for a school-record 253 yards in the 23-13 upset. Evans had six runs of 15 yards or more, including bursts of 50, 45 and 29 yards. The Hokies gained a season-high 400 yards on offense against Maryland. For the season, the Hokies don't have a receiver who has a touchdown catch, and they only average 120.8 yards in the air.
Plus, that Tech rush defense showed up big time. The Terps went into last week's game averaging nearly 167 rushing yards per contest but finished with minus-12 yards on 18 attempts against Virginia Tech. There was not a single carry that went longer than seven yards for Maryland.
Miami knows all too well about the Hokie rush defense. In last year's 44-14 loss to the Hokies, the Canes rushed the ball 29 times for minus-2 yards. However, that team didn't have current leading rusher Craig Cooper (injured) and was much less talented than the 2008 Canes, who have won four games in a row. However, UM may well be without its most talented offensive lineman in Jason Fox, who has a sprained ankle.
"You've got to be able to run the football," Miami coach Randy Shannon said. "This late in the season, if you can't run the football, you won't be able to make it."
Miami will continue to rotate quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris, even though it has been Harris who has been rescuing the offense of late and who has won ACC Rookie of the Week honors three times already this season. On the year, Marve has thrown for 920 yards and seven scores, but he has also been picked off 10 times. Harris, on the other hand, has passed for 698 yards, with seven touchdowns against just three interceptions.
The Hokies have won four of the past five meetings. The Canes are 12-1 all-time on Thursday nights and the Hokies are 15-3, but this is the teams' first meeting on Thursday. Virginia Tech is 14-1 in November over the last four seasons. The Hokies are 13-1 against ACC teams during that span, with the only loss coming to Miami in 2005. Despite losing its past two ACC road games, to Boston College and Florida State, the Hokies are 16-3 in league road games since joining the ACC in 2004.
This is Virginia Tech's last road game, so a victory probably would put it in the catbird seat for the ACC Coastal Division title since it beat co-leader North Carolina this season. Miami needs to win out and hope the Heels drop a game.