WVU - Miami Matchups

West Virginia must come out on top in almost all of these head to head confrontations if they are to have any hope of springing an upset in Miami on Thursday.


WVU linebacker Adam Lehnortt vs. UM fullbacks Kyle Cobia and Quadtrine Hill

Last year, Hill smoked WVU for 108 receiving yards, but its the blocking of the Miami fullbacks that bears watching in this game. The Hurricanes are, to lay an accusation that's been foisted upon WVU recently, very predictable. they run the isolation, the lead draw, and then throw play action.

How WVU defends the iso will have a major impact on the outcome of the game. If Hill, who is returning from an injury, and Cobia are able to lock up Lehnortt, Frank Gore is going to have more room to run than mustangs in the old west. For WVU to have a chance to slow the Miami running game, Lehnortt must be able to get off blocks and make plays in the hole.

WVU cornerback Lance Frazier vs. UM wide receiver Kevin Beard

Miami obviously has a stable of wide receivers, but Beard might be the steadiest of them all. He runs sharp routes, gets open, and is a reliable target for quarterback Brock Berlin.

Lance Frazier
There's no way the Mountaineers will shut down the Hurricanes' passing attack, but Frazier could help slow down the assualt by keeping Beard in check. Frazier hasn't been picked on much by opposing passers so far this season, but that figures to change against Miami, which throws the ball to all parts of the field. If the steady senior could somehow neutralize Beard, WVU might have a chance to disrupt the steady flow of Miami's aerial game.

WVU offensive tackle Garin Justice vs. UM defensive end Bryan Pata

Finally, WVU gets to matchup on the right side with someone of similar experience. With left end Baraka Atkins likely sidelined with an injury, Justice will get to face a player with a similar level of experience in Pata, a true freshman who worked out with Miami's first team for most of the week.

This battle will likely be one of size versus speed, as the big West Virginia native will try to outmuscle the smaller, but somewhat quicker, Miami defender. Look for WVU to try to attack this matchup early with their power running game.


Miami's speed gets talked about all the time. So much so, that it sort of tends to fade into the background. To get an idea of how fast the Hurricanes are, watch how quickly they get downfield to cover punts and kickoffs.

While many teams only get one or two players into good tackling positions early in the return, Miami typically has waves of defenders close to the ball carrier by the time the return gets underway.

* * *

WVU has to do something to slow down Miami's pursuit, especially from the linebacker positions. Since the Mountaineers have been using reverses to counteract pursuit early this year, the Canes will likely be watching for Travis Garvin and his teammates on those types of plays.

So, what might WVU do? This could be the week that the Mountaineers throw a few circle routes to their running backs, a hot route to the tight end or a slant or two to the inside receivers. The move of Miquelle Henderson to the slot in some formations might be an indicator that West Virginia is going to attack the linebackers' home areas in an attempt to keep them honest.

* * *

With Miami's special teams displaying more scoring prowess than Dirk Diggler, WVU would be wise to employ the sprint punt as a method of keeping the ball out of the hands of Hurricane ball handlers. While it may not be the most impressive looking bit of strategy, and some critics bash it because it doesn't "look right" the fact is that it has been an effective weapon for West Virginia this year.

If WVU does kick from normal formation, we sitll expect to see kicks angled more toward the sidelines. Remember, there's nothing wrong with a 38 yard punt that goes out of bounds and doesn't get returned.

* * *

Although a stated goal of any defense is to get opponents into third down and long situations, that's not a certain recipe for success against Miami. The Hurricanes are converting 48% of their third and long (six yards or more to go for a first down) situations this year.

Add in WVU's ugly 3rd and 24 give up against Maryland, and it's clear that getting the Canes into that situation, while a tough enough task, won't be the end of the story. The Mountaineers might not get many chances to make big plays against Miami, so they simply must take advantage of those opportunities when they occur.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories