Miami is set to kick off its ACC slate Saturday at 3:30pm by hosting the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Joey Weaver of From the Rumble Seat was kind enough of offer an informative overview of Georgia Tech's squad and preview of the matchup with the Canes.
1. Tell us about QB Vad Lee. He threw for only 144 yards against an improving VTech defense last week. If the high-powered Miami offense can pile up points early, can Lee, and the Tech passing attack as a whole, keep up?
The one thing to watch here is the wording. Can
Lee and the passing attack keep up? I honestly think that they could. Will they keep up if the situation presents itself? The outlook's not too good. Lee is the best passer that Paul Johnson has had at Georgia Tech. Darren Waller & DeAndre Smelter
are probably the best one-two punch at receiver under CPJ (yes, including Demaryius Thomas
& Stephen Hill
), not to mention A-Backs Robbie Godhigh, Deon Hill
, and B.J. Bostic
who frequently get involved in the passing game. That said, I don't know what it is, but this offense just doesn't look...comfortable...when throwing the ball. Aside from Virginia Tech, the passing has been decent to good so far, but even still it never looks as smooth and natural for the players as when we're running the ball, or for other teams when they're throwing it for that matter. If the situation presents itself, I think this unit is fully capable of throwing the ball effectively. However, I can't have a lot of confidence that they will throw it as well as need be.
2. Every time I watch the Tech offense play, I feel like saying "humdinger" while sipping on a milkshake in my '57 Chevy with my steady girl. What's the pulse of the fans on Paul Johnson's style of offense?
Great description there, actually. I gotta say, I've always been a supporter of Paul Johnson and I think he's a phenomenal coach in general. That said, I think there's an ever-increasing section of the fanbase that's getting restless with the glaring stagnation facing the program. Since going 10-2 in the 2009 regular season, CPJ's regular season records have been 6-6, 7-5, and 6-6 -- not exactly encouraging. I think there's a growing consensus that Johnson needs to be more flexible with his offense -- adjusting to his competition and working towards more of a balance of the run-pass ratio. I would tell you that his refusal to adjust his play calling played a role in our ugly loss last week to Virginia Tech. Again, I think he's a really good coach, and I think that he's done about as well as anyone could at Tech given circumstances outside of his control. But I do think that the clock is ticking unless the success rate improves significantly, and soon.
3. Miami's offense is loaded, with a big offensive line, greasy-fast speed at wideout, a trio of running backs - all who do something different well- and a QB with experience who's single-handedly won games before. How does Tech's D match up personnel-wise and how do they begin to attack this offense?
Defensive Line: WDE Jeremiah Attaochu is an All-ACC candidate who will set the school record for career sacks if he can record 12 this year. He's probably the best NFL prospect at Tech, much less on the defense. Euclid Cummings
and Adam Gotsis play in the middle, and can hold their own as I see it. Gotsis is a unique case, playing his second season of college football after being raised in Australia -- don't let that deter you though, he can be quite the force. The other side is manned by SDE Emmanuel Dieke, who may be the weak link of the defense. He stands at 6'7" and has moments of brightness, but lacks consistent production and will likely be the guy that Duke is running right at.
Linebackers: Possibly the most talented group in the ACC here. On the strong side, you have the freakishly athletic senior Brandon Watts
, who is pretty capable of covering a slot receiver when need be. He can be a pretty nasty pass rusher too, but really excels at stopping the outside run. In the middle is sophomore Jabari Hunt-Days
, a 4-star recruit who currently projects as the best MLB in the 2016 NFL Draft
. Dude is a beast, and while not much for pass coverage he can really be a monster against runs between the tackles. Next to him is Quayshawn Nealy
, a very rangy junior who is probably the third-best player on our defense. He does a great job in both pass coverage and run stopping, specifically lateral running.
Secondary: A really talented unit that's struggled this year at times, and is having some major injury issues at the moment. The corners are manned by Louis Young
and Jemea Thomas
, both seniors with decent NFL prospects (Thomas in particular is the other gem on the team besides Attaochu). Both are major playmakers, and when in the nickel Thomas slides in to the slot to yield his spot to freshman D.J. White
. At strong safety, Chris Milton
was a breakout player on the back side of last year, and is a hell of a play maker in our defensive backfield. He can really lay the lumber too. At free safety, senior Isaiah Johnson is sitting out this year as he rehabs a knee injury, and Jamal Golden
was recently lost for the season with a shoulder injury
. They're backed up by sophomore Domonique Noble
, who may well be the best third-string free safety in the conference, but will never be a seamless replacement for 2012 leading tackler Johnson, or instinctual playmaker Golden. Don't be surprised if he makes a couple of big plays in this game though, he's a very serviceable replacement.
Overall it's going to be a challenge matching up with Miami's talent at every position, and it's going to take a good game from each individual player to have a chance at stopping Miami's attack. You may also see Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof dial up some weird blitzes to try and confuse Miami's O-Line and rattle Stephen Morris. Other than that, I think our players will need to be focused for the full 60 minutes if we're to have a chance.
4. Last year's game was one for the ages, which I'm sure you'd like to forget. Is there anything you think the Jackets can take away from that game and improve upon to get over the hump on Saturday?
"... which I'm sure you'd like to forget." God, you have no idea. The emotional toll that game took on me was just unreal. I think the lesson to be learned from that game is never to take your foot off the gas. Miami jumped out to a 19-0 lead, before Tech came back to take a 36-19 lead. It's about that time that I feel like Tech was playing more "not to lose" than to win. Honestly, if I remember correctly, Tech only needed a couple of first downs in their final drive of regulation to seal it, and they couldn't get them. The moment that Tech got complacent and put it in cruise control was the moment that everything started to go downhill. Applying that to this year I think will be more for Miami, but also that Tech can't quit. If Tech gets down by 2-3 touchdowns, they have the capacity to come back and make the game competitive, assuming they don't quit. That'll be the biggest takeaway from last year in my opinion.
Miami probably ends up breaking 2-3 long touchdowns against our defense off of talent alone, and I think the Hurricanes will set the high score so far for this season's opposing offense. Tech will be better than last year, but I've yet to see us play a decent game in Coral Gables under Paul Johnson for whatever reason. I'm pretty pessimistic, but I do think we have it in us to pull off the win. We'll see what happens.
Miami 31, Georgia Tech 24
Thanks to Joey for answering my questions. You can follow him on Twitter at @FTRSLilBroey.