Cavs Weary of Justin Miller

Special teams -- especially kick coverage teams -- are getting a little more emphasis as <!--Default For Virginia is to ignore-->Virginia plays host to <!--Default For Clemson is to ignore-->Clemson Thursday night.

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 the time.

"Obviously, that's one of the solutions to this week's problem," Groh said.

The game is the last of four consecutive home games for the Cavaliers. Top Stories