And for good reason.
The Cavaliers (4-0, 1-0 ACC) face one of the most dangerous return
men in the country in the Tigers' Justin Miller. Miller returned two
kickoffs for touchdowns against Florida State and also has a punt return
for a score this season.
"He's a real jet," coach Al Groh said of the Tiger junior. "He's got
a feel for it. He's got a good initial spurt, which is necessary,
especially on punts, because kickoffs, it's a different kind of opening;
you can see it coming for a while. Punts, the different nature of the
coverage, it opens quickly, it opens suddenly."
Miller is averaging 12.7 yards on six punt returns, including a 69-yarder.
Thanks to his 282-yard return day against Florida State, he is
averaging 36.4 yards on kickoff returns. Against that, Virginia is
giving up an average of 21.4 yards per kickoff return. Only one opponent
has returned a punt against the Cavaliers. Akron returned it 21 yards.
Groh said the Cavaliers have had a "special focus" on Miller during
practice, but isn't making any personnel changes "because there's an on-the-job
training that goes on in how to read the returns, when to go over the
top of the blocker and when to go around the blocker and, based on what
the read is, is this sideline left or middle return," Groh said.
"There's a real savvy that goes with that. If you just plug a guy in
there, he's a rookie all over again. You break down the efficiency of
your unit. So, we've got some veteran guys in there that have covered a
lot of kicks. Hopefully, they'll be as effective as they have been."
The best weapon on kickoffs, he noted, is for PK Kurt Smith to boom
his kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, which he has done about half
"Obviously, that's one of the solutions to this week's problem," Groh
The game is the last of four consecutive home games for the Cavaliers.
Cavs Weary of Justin Miller
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