1) Pressure the Quarterback
Virginia Tech has had a slew of injuries at the position and getting their quarterbacks out of a comfort zone would be a big help towards achieving victory. Sean Glennon seemed to struggle to move in last week's game against Maryland. A dominant pass rush would certainly force Glennon to make mistakes that could lead to better field position for the Canes. If Tyrod Taylor plays, Miami needs to make him prove that he is healthy. As Miami fans know with Javarris James, a high ankle sprain is not easy to recover from. The Canes need to pressure the Hokie quarterback breaking their rhythm and forcing mistakes.
2) Stop the run
The Hokies like to run. They generally throw about 15-20 passes a game. With young and inexperienced receivers and hobbled quarterbacks, Tech will rely heavily on the ground game on Thursday night. The Canes need to keep the Hokie ground game in check. Tackles for loss will be huge in this game as they will force the Hokies out of their comfort zone and into passing situations. Linebackers need to fly to the ball and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Wrapping up and finishing off tackles will be key as Tech running back Darren Evans is not easy to bring down.
1) The Canes must control Darren Evans to be successful vs. Virginia Tech on Thursday.
Evans is the key to the Hokies offense is a coming off a monster game vs. Maryland in which he had 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. If the Canes can control Evans it would force the nation's 113th ranked passing offense to try and beat them, which is not likely to happen. Expect Miami's defensive coordinator Bill Young to have a very aggressive game plan on Thursday and dare Virginia Tech's lackluster passing game to beat him.
2) Miami must take care of the ball on offense.
Virginia Tech's defense is excellent and will provide one of the toughest tests for the young Miami offense this season. The Canes must limit penalties and turnovers in order to be successful on Thursday. Miami must take what they can on offense and not try to force the issue and allow the defense to score or give the deficient Hokie offense a short field. The Canes were held to negative rushing yardage the last time these teams squared off and it will be important to get Javarris James and Graig Cooper going to take the pressure off Miami's young QBs.
1) Stop the run
When Virginia Tech's able to run the football, like they did with ease against Maryland last Thursday night, they're a much better football team. Tradtitionally, the Hokies have always heavily relied on their ground game and it seems like going all the way to the early 90s, the outcome of this game had a lot to do with how well the Hokies were able to run the ball. Sure, the Canes need to run it too (they were terrible on the ground in this game last season) but these games are won on defense and the Canes need to continue doing a nice job against the run.
2) Hold onto the football
The Hokies make a living feeding off turnovers created by their defense and specia teams unit. If the Canes are able to limit turnovers, it takes the Hokies out of their game. Their offense, even with Tyrod Taylor in the game, hasn't been explosive enough this season to march up and down the field against solid defenses without having short fields to work with. Miami's offense must do a good job of protecting the ball and forcing the Hokies to create some long drives.