After an embarrassing loss in Lincoln, UM and their defense in particular, had a lot to prove Vs an undefeated Duke squad last weekend.
They responded in a big time way, stifling Duke, and coming out with an impressive 22-10 victory.
This week they face another unblemished opponent in Georgia Tech.
The Jackets are also coming off a bye week.
Needless to say, the Hurricanes are going to have their hands full tonight at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Here are my three keys for the 'Canes to come away victorious:
#1 Produce at least 5 tackles for loss - The best way to deal with the Jackets and their vaunted option attack is to get them behind on down and distances. GT is tied with Oregon for 5th Nationally in 3rd down conversion % at 56.3. The only way to get them off the field is to force them into third and longs. They are just too good in 3rd and 3 or less to expect success on those downs. The way to force out of their comfort zone is to beat blockers, shoot the gaps (but not by freelancing), and tackle ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage. Denzel Perryman and Thurston Armbister in particular are going to be keys to accomplishing this goal. In my estimation Miami will need to produce no less than 5 of these (one every 1.5 possessions) to have a successful night. Last weekend they played much more aggressively against Duke both schematically and in execution. They need more of the same tonight.
#2 Run it right back at them - Brad Kaaya has been impressive, but the best player on the field week in and week out for Miami is still Duke Johnson. And in GT they face another team that struggles to stop the run (194.3 ypg on the ground, 94th in the country). El Duque rumbled to 155 yards Vs the Devils last weekend, and Joe Yearby looks exceedingly more coomfy each week. Pounding the ball early and often would help keep Miami's defense off the field and potentially break down the Jackets as well.
#3 Keep playing for each other - I touched on this subject earlier in the week. I really like the team chemistry right now. Guys are picking each other up, congratulating each others' big plays, and everyone seems to be playing with an edge. Take a look at the play below, and count the green jerseys around the ball. Perhaps camaraderie is overrated, but it surely can't hurt.
There you have it 'Canes fans. If Miami can get Tech in unfavorable down and distances, run the ball successfully, and play together as a team, they should be 2-0 in the Coastal after tonight.