Nick’s Keys to the Game: Miami

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I have to be honest – Saturday was perhaps the most disappointing day I’ve had as a Virginia fan. I thought if the team and coaches came out with the same aggressive attitude as they had against Florida State and Georgia Tech, the ‘Hoos had a legitimate shot of taking down the Hokies. But alas, the team came out flat and had a poor gameplan that was only exacerbated by a lack of execution. Add to that, I completely whiffed on my Keys to the Game, as the team did not execute one of those keys in a horrific loss.

Unfortunately for the ‘Hoos, this weekend’s opponent is similar to Virginia Tech in many ways, and Miami is at home. However, as Georgia Tech proved, the Hurricanes do have weaknesses and can be beaten in the Orange Bowl. Let’s look at what I think Virginia has to do to have a chance at victory.


1) Use the shotgun

The shotgun gives Marques Hagans extra time he’ll need against Miami’s pass rush.

The Miami defense is the best in the country hands down and its #1 defensive ranking proves that fact. The Hurricanes have superior athletes at every position and they use them aggressively. The key to their defense is playing man coverage with their corners to allow their safeties to pressure the line of scrimmage and shut down the run. Based on the success of Virginia Tech in putting pressure on Marques Hagans and forcing him into erratic play, I think Miami will bring the kitchen sink at the ‘Hoos early and often.

When UVa went to the shotgun against the Hokies, the offense looked significantly better than from under center. The hurry-up out of this formation was the only bright spot on the day for the Virginia offense. The real strength of it is that it allows Hagans the opportunity to spot his reads earlier than if he was dropping from under center. Any extra second of time against the Miami front is going to be crucial, as the ‘Canes will be in the backfield all day long.

The other advantage of using the shotgun is that it opens up running lanes a