Miami Hurricanes RB Jaylan Knighton return x-factor versus Virginia

Louisville Vs Miami 2020
Louisville Vs Miami 2020 /

The return of Miami Hurricanes running back Jaylan Knighton against Virginia on Thursday after a four-game suspension could be the x-factor. Knighton shared time last season as the second-team RB with Don Chaney Jr. behind starter Cam’Ron Harris. In 2020, Knighton ran for 209 yards on 4.0 yards per carry.

Knighton was explosive with 11 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown to add to his single rushing score.  A 75-yard TD reception by Knighton last season on a swing pass was one of the plays of the year for Miami. Knighton’s TD came one offensive play for Miami after Harris scored a 75-yard TD.

With Chaney out for the season with a torn ACL, expect Knighton to be the primary backup behind Harris. Knighton is surprisingly listed behind freshman Cody Brown as the third-team RB. Brown and Knighton bring different skillsets for Miami. Brown is a more punishing north-south runner.

Knighton provides the Hurricanes with a shifty and explosive runner they have lacked through the first four games of the season. The Miami rushing offense has been decent creating big plays this season. Miami ranks 30th with 26 plays of 10 yards or more. It remains consistently in the 30s beginning with 20 plus yards and up.

Harris took a short pass 83 yards for a TD last week against Central Connecticut State. As the Miami Hurricanes begin ACC play against Virginia they are going to have to create more explosive plays. Miami is 52nd with 14 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Knighton’s return will provide Miami more explosiveness and versatility offensively.

Against FBS opponents this season, Miami is 74th converting 36.17 percent of its third-down attempts. Knighton had two receptions for 17 yards last season when the Hurricanes had third down and 10 or more yards. On third down and one to three yards to go, Knighton added two carries for 15 yards with a long of 12.

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Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said yesterday that Knighton “gives you some explosion.” Virginia has been susceptible allowing big plays this season. The Cavaliers rank 95th allowing 20 plays of 20 or more yards and 107th giving up 11 plays of 30 plus yards. Knighton should be able to produce explosive plays.