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Miami Hurricanes Travel To Virginia For ACC Coastal Clash

Alex Donno
October 11, 2018 - 1:26 pm
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The Miami Hurricanes will look to stay unbeaten in ACC Conference play after a 2-0 start. The 16th ranked Canes will travel to Charlottesville to face unranked Virginia this Saturday.

Victory didn't come easily for Miami this past weekend against rival Florida State. After falling behind 27-7 in the third quarter, Miami scored 3 unanswered touchdowns en route to a 28-27 win. 

Freshman quarterback N'Kosi Perry got off to a slow start but finished strong. He threw for 204 yards with 4 touchdowns in the win. He didn't throw an interception but did lose a first half fumble. 

Last week, Perry faced adversity for the first time in his career and passed the test. This week, a new challenge awaits. 

Perry hits the road

N'Kosi officially took over as Miami's starting quarterback two weeks ago against North Carolina. To date, he's never taken a snap away from Hard Rock Stadium. Charlottesville could offer him a baptism by fire. It's been a house of horrors at times for Miami. 

Miami did win the most recent meeting at Virginia, two years ago under Mark Richt. But that came after losing 3 straight: 2010 under Randy Shannon and 2012 and 2014 under Al Golden. 

The Cavaliers are 3-0 at home so far this season. They boast the nation's 31st best scoring defense, allowing just 20.4 points per game. 

Perry was asked if he expects things to feel different on the road. 

“I don’t think it will be that much different. I know the crowd is not going to be on our side, for the most part, but hopefully we can silence them and do what we got to do.”

The challenge ahead

Head coach Mark Richt opened his weekly press conference on Tuesday with thoughts on what it will take to beat Virginia:

“Coach [Bronco] Mendenhall is a good friend of mine. He’s an outstanding coach and an outstanding person. He’s doing a good job of leading that team. We have got a great challenge ahead of us. We’re going into their house. It’s going to be at night. Their fans will be riled up, I’m sure. They’ll be well-rested, because they had an open date. We had an emotional ballgame and had to turn around pretty quick to get ready for this. Hopefully that won’t come into play by the end of it.

“A lot of things for us to be challenged by. We’re looking forward to it. We’re in the grind of it. We’re right in the middle of ACC play - no more out of conference games. Everything is conference. We only have two more home games. I think we have four out of the next five, or something like that, are away [games]. We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing them at home. We’ll see how it goes.

O-Line works overtime

Miami's offensive line struggled against Florida State. The Seminoles sacked Perry five times and recorded 12 tackles for a loss. Taking the cue from leaders like Tyler Gauthier and Hayden Mahoney, the O-line put in extra work this week pushing the sled after practice. 

Coach Richt discussed what did and didn't go right for the O-line against FSU.

“There were a couple of blitzes that, gosh, we practiced them over and over, and they did exactly what they did on the film. The first time it looked like everybody sacked [N’Kosi] at the same time - that was just a total breakdown there. Other than that, our assignments were good. Our effort is good. I think we’re blocking pretty [well] at the point [of attack] in the run game, most of the time. Our perimeter blocking is improving. If you’re going to get 200 yards per game rushing, you have to break some big runs. If you’re going to get five yards per carry, on average, you have to break a few runs. You don’t always get five yards per carry. You get two [yards], and three, and eight, and four, and then you get 40 and all of a sudden you’ve got that average and it looks really good. We haven’t had as many big runs, but we’ve had a few. A lot of that has to do with how we’re blocking on the perimeter. We’re still a work in progress there.”

Richt was asked how close Miami's offensive line is to becoming "championship level."

“We’re getting better. I think we’re getting closer. We are a lot farther along than we were a year ago, and especially two years ago, in my mind. We’ve been making progress, for sure. I have to do a better job of realizing there are certain guys that probably no one in America can block and do a better job of getting a guy some help, on a guy like [Florida State defensive end Brian] Burns. Once we did that, we didn’t have as much trouble."

Runnign back Deejay Dallas joined the line in pushing the sled after practice, saying he also made errors in blocking. Dallas is emerging as a leader on the offense. 

Career ends for Richards

A piece of unfortunate news came to light over the weekend. Wide receiver Ahmmon Richards has been diagnosed with a debilitating neck injury that will keep him from ever playing football again. 

“While we share in Ahmmon’s disappointment that his football career is over, his health must be the top priority,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Ahmmon will remain on full scholarship and we will continue to support him as a member of the Hurricanes family.”

Richt has also said that the injury will not prevent Richards from living a normal life outside of football. Richards offered this statement on his health: “I’m extremely appreciative of the University’s athletic training and medical staffs for diagnosing this injury, and to the football coaches and staff for always putting my health first,” Richards said. “I plan to continue working towards my degree at UM and look forward to the next chapter in my life.”

Teammate Deejay Dallas recalled his reaction to the Richards news. 

“Sad, man, and [I] cried," Dallas said. "That really hurt. Ahmmon was my host on my official visit. I feel like that’s why it stung so much to me because he meant so much to me as a brother and as a teammate.”

Richards is the second Miami player to see his career end for a neck injury within the past year. Back in January, defensive back Malek Young was forced to retire from an injury sustained in the Orange Bowl. Like Richards, Young remains a part of the program and continues to work toward his UM degree. 

Kickoff

16th ranked Miami will look to improve their ACC record to 3-0 this Saturday, October 13th against the Virginia Cavaliers. Kickoff from Scott Stadium in Charlottesville is set for 7pm. You can listen to the game on WQAM, with our coverage starting at 3:00pm.