Miami Hurricanes Week 7 Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

Photo by Edwin Garcia

Miami, Florida – The Miami Hurricanes are eager to get back into the win column and the Virginia Tech Hokies are a great opportunity to do so. Considered one of the weaker, non-Middle Tennessee, teams of the ACC the Hokies are also in the midst of a 3-game losing skid. Needless to say, one of these programs is walking out of Lane Stadium and hitting the reset button. After their latest 45-29 loss to Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech is looking for a course correction in this weekend’s sold-out homecoming game. Offensively they are at the bottom tier of the conference. The defense is not that much better.

Still, the Canes can’t afford to bungle this matchup. Too many times these boys play down to their competition. Too many times their mistakes come back to bite them. Interestingly enough, despite it being week 7 of the season this is only Miami’s second road game of the year. VT will be relying on a transfer from Marshall at QB complemented by a veteran wide receiver for the offense. Defense wise this team has experience augmented by leading tackler Dax Hollifield and effective pass rusher TyJuan Garbutt among others in their defensive line. These two teams last met in 2021, the Hurricanes took care of the Hokies 38-26 at the Hardrock in the penultimate game of the season.

Players to watch

Virginia Tech

Grant Wells (QB) – A kid with talent but Wells has a tendency of throwing interceptions. To the tune of 29 so far in his college career including seven this season. Last weekend he threw for 277 yards with a touchdown and an INT. There are only two games thus far where the ex-Thundering Herd avoided getting picked off. The junior is tied with Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong for the most picks in the league. It may be their homecoming game this weekend but UM’s defense should add to his dubious tally.

Kaleb Smith (WR) – The third fiddle of the wide receiver corps in 2021, Kaleb Smith firmly leads the unit with 25 receptions for 402 yards. He only has a pair of TDs matching last year’s total, however, Smith is averaging 16.1 yards per catch showing big play potential. He’s coming off the best performance of his college career nabbing nine catches for 152 yards. The lone blemish is the fumble.

Dax Hollifield (LB) – Dax is tied for the seventh most tackles in the ACC (the other is Boston College’s Vinny DePalma). Same as in 2021, Hollifield leads the program in this category with the possibility of reaching the previous mark of 92 tackles. Facing the Panthers Dax was at the top of the list and will continue to be a presence for the Hokies this upcoming weekend.

TyJuan Garbutt (DL) – A member of the “Yard Dogs”, TyJuan Garbutt missed playing time due to injury and was absent against Pitt. If he does get green-lit, the redshirt senior will be someone the O-Line keeps tabs on. TyJuan is instinctive and has good pass rush abilities according to his coach Brent Pry. Garbutt brings pressure on the edge and recorded 30 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks for 2021.


Tyler Van Dyke (QB) – After that performance last weekend how can he not be on here? For those unaware, Tyler Van Dyke completed 42 of 57 passes for 496 yards including a trio of touchdowns and an interception. For his efforts, the ACC awarded Van Dyke quarterback of the week. The yardage produced is the most by any player in the nation against an FBS opponent this year. It’s nice to see him bounce back. However, it’s crystal clear he can’t do it alone.

Jaylan Knighton (RB) – Although injury has factored into Rooster’s season, 2022 has been a bit of a disappointment so far. Jaylan Knighton’s best showing was against Texas A&M accumulating 14 carries for 77 yards splitting the workload with Henry Parrish Jr. By comparison, Knighton was very limited versus UNC on the ground recording four carries for 13 yards. While he did make two catches for 56 yards Rooster committed a very costly error late in the game. The run didn’t pan out against the Tar Heels, however, Virginia Tech presents a rebound.

Kamren Kinchens (S) – This sophomore is having a productive year. Kamren Kinchens leads the team with three picks and has the third-most tackles (20). Compared to the earlier portion of the season, the secondary has seen visible progression. Kinchens has shown growth with significantly improved ball-handling skills. He’s also displaying leadership qualities. Coach Mario Cristobal said for guys at that stage of their careers to take on the roles they have is nothing short of impressive. An energetic individual, let’s see how the defense against the pass goes with Virginia Tech.

Corey Flagg Jr. (LB) – Say hello to Miami’s leading tackler. Considered the team’s best linebacker, Corey Flagg Jr, and Keontra Smith helped hold the Tar Heels’ rushing to 161 yards. Flagg ended the game with seven tackles including three tackles for loss coming up with some backfield stops. On top of his 30 tackles for the season, the sophomore also tallies a team-best 18 solo tackles. Flourishing under Kevin Steele, Corey can help the D dominate VT thereby putting the Canes on the path to victory.


Yeah, they choked with Middle Tennessee. Yeah, they’re without their top receivers. And yes, the O-line has been trending downwards lately. However, there is still little reason for Miami to NOT take care of business in Blacksburg. TVD is going in with both momentum and a new wideout in Colbie Young. In addition, the running game will be better. Wells is likely to be picked off more than once too. Despite it being a road game the Canes will get the W 34-24.

Photo| Edwin Garcia

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