Greg’s Stock Report ’09: Miami

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Saturday’s game against Miami was every bit as ugly as the 35-point margin would suggest. When Jacory Harris wasn’t picking apart the Virginia pass coverage, Graig Cooper was running roughshod over the Cavalier defenders. The Miami junior’s 152 yards on 18 carries led the Hurricanes, who finished with 268 yards, three touchdowns and a 5.47 yards per carry average on the ground.

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The Wahoos’ defensive struggles were matched on special teams and surpassed by the offense’s ineptitude. Marc Verica was sacked only twice but was harassed all afternoon, completing 11 of 29 passes for 75 yards and a pick. The ground game, when utilized, provided some assistance by netting a total of 103 yards but was abandoned in the second half. Virginia, which entered the game ranked 116th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense, managed to actually drop in those rankings to 119th. Not surprisingly, for the third consecutive week and the fifth time this season, the offense’s grade drops into the D or below range.

Trend Report

What’s up?

Disrupting the passing game. After being MIA in the first seven games of the year (10 sacks for 61 lost yards, 20 pass break-ups) the Cavalier pass rush returned the past two weeks. UVa posted two sacks and knocked down five passes against the Canes following six sacks and four pass break-ups against Duke. What was most encouraging is that the aggressive pass rush was anchored by better pressure from the front line.

What’s Down?

Run defense. In 2007, the Virginia defense finished 13th in the nation against the run, allowing a mere 2.9 yards per carry and surrendering just nine rushing scores. Last season, the Cavaliers finished the year 40th in run defense giving up 3.69 YPC and 17 TDs. This season, the Cavaliers are 71st in the country, allowing 4.03 YPC, 166.67 yards per game and 13 TDs to date. Despite a strong effort on first down against the Canes, Virginia’s run defense was abysmal on second and third down, yielding 209 yards on 28 carries or 7.4 YPC.

Poor tackling. It started in the second half against Georgia Tech, continued against Duke and maybe was at its worst Saturday against Miami. No defensive unit received an execution grade of 57% or better and that was due, in large