Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/6/12
CORAL GABLES, Fla. Enjoying a rare Saturday off in November, Miami's Dallas Crawford was told N.C. State had lost 33-6. "I said, 'They played Virginia?'" the Hurricanes running back said Tuesday. "I just didn't expect that." Few people did. Virginia hobbled into Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday with a six-game losing streak, yet exited with a dominating victory. "They have a lot of talent, they're very physical," Crawford said. "They could have been playing like that all year." The question is: How will Virginia (3-6, 1-4) play against visiting Miami this Saturday? The Hurricanes (5-4, 4-2) are aiming to capture the school's first ACC Coastal Division crown after seizing control by beating perennial conference powerhouse Virginia Tech on Thursday night. Playing for something meaningful during the season's second half usually has a positive effect on a team. Makes it more focused, more determined. But the first time in such a situation for a team sometimes results in jitters and loss of discipline. Still, second-year coach Al Golden would have it no other way for his Hurricanes. "For us to go where we want to go in the coming years, this is the first step for us," Golden said. Golden and several Miami players insisted Virginia made several key fixes during an off week that preceded its game at N.C. State. "We're expecting the University of Virginia team that played last week, " Golden said. "Clearly, they had some turnover-ratio issues that led to some mistakes early in the year, but they clearly got that cleaned up in the bye week." Virginia forced five Wolfpack turnovers after causing a total of four through the first eight games. The Cavaliers pro-style offense, which employs two quarterbacks (sophomore Philip Sims and junior Michael Rocco), produced 446 total yards last week. "You just have to be aware who's in the game because they do some things different," safety A.J. Highsmith said. "But they run the same philosophies on offense. So you have to be prepared to stop them no matter who's in the game." Don't think Virginia is all about offense. During their last three games, the Cavs have held opponents to 5-of-41 on third down and to an average of only 40.7 rushing yards. They also had six sacks vs. N.C. State after entering the game with a total of seven. "We know what Virginia is, what they were last year," Golden said. "They're a big, strong, rugged team that's tough. And as they played last week, I know that's how they want to conduct the game they don't want to beat themselves." Golden's message appears to have resonated with his players. Then again, it's not like Virginia needed a rout to get Miami's attention. "I hope we had a lot of respect for them, they beat us two yeas in a row," Highsmith said. "That's all the respect you need. I don't think we needed a wakeup call." With the game in Charlottesville, Va., Golden will be returning to a place where he attended graduate school and where he began his coaching career. He was living there when he got married and when son A.J. was born. Don't expect the coach, however, to be sentimental on this trip. "When I'm there, I'll be in the hotel room, watching film, being in a meeting, or getting yelled at on the field,' he said. "One of those four things." No matter which Virginia team shows up, the one that was riding a losing streak or the one that appeared at N.C. State.
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