2009 Monday Thoughts: Miami

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When everyone except Phil Martin is picking the Miami Hurricanes to win,
it’s easy to dismiss them all as bandwagoners and hypesters who are all too
quick to jump on the Miami’s-Back-Baby bandwagon. That’s true of some people,
but not everyone out there is stupid. A lot of the people who picked Miami to
win were doing so on sound, fact-based analysis, yours truly included.

Both Miami and Virginia Tech did things Saturday they hadn’t done all season,
and in the case of the Hokies, they did something they hadn’t done since 2006
(more on that later). The secret to the Hokies’ considerable success on Saturday
was reversing statistical trends both teams had established in this admittedly
young season.

Of course, this is why they play the games. Conditions, matchups, strategies,
and — last but not least — emotions all play a big part in the outcome of any
given game.

On Saturday, Virginia Tech drew four aces and a king. This is without
question one of the best-planned, best-executed, and even luckiest games the
Hokies have played in a while.

I’ve been thinking about this since about 7:00 Saturday evening, and a good
portion of Monday Thoughts this week is going to be about the statistical trends
I spoke about earlier that were reversed. They were the reason a game everyone
thought was going to Miami went to Virginia Tech instead, and it wasn’t even

Living in the Backfield

Coming into the game, Miami QB Jacory Harris was third in the nation in pass
efficiency. He exited Lane Stadium 24th in the nation after going 9-for-25, 150
yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. Harris’ single-game pass efficiency stat Saturday was
78.4, far below his 180+ pre-game efficiency stat. A 78.4 efficiency rating for
the season wouldn’t even crack the top 100, and as a matter of fact, would put
Harris 29.2 points behind #100 Paul McCall of Florida International (107.6).
That’s how good Tech’s pass defense was Saturday.

As Chris Coleman detailed in our game preview material, pass defense was one
thing the Hokie D was doing well in their first three games. Miami’s passing
offense presented Tech’s stiffest challenge to date, not just because of
Harris’s efficiency and accuracy, but also because he was distributing the ball
to a seemingly endless list of receivers, backs,