When: Saturday, October 4th, @Georgia Tech. Time TBA.
While the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets may lack the cache of say FSU or even Virginia Tech, they post a unique challenge with their triple option on offense.
Miami trails in the all time series 10-8, despite winning the last 3.
Two years ago UM and GT produced arguably the game of the season, in a 42-36 Miami OT win (better known as the Mike James game) that had a little bit of everything.
For those planning on going to this year's game in Atlanta, see ya there!
Let's take a closer look at last year's game and what to expect this season.
Last Meeting: 'Canes Explode in 2nd Half to Win Big
The Hurricanes prevailed 45-30 victory over Georgia Tech at Sun Life Stadium, last October 5th. Stephen Morris went 17-of-22 for 324 yards and three scores. Duke Johnson was two yards off of a career best and Dallas Crawford had another two touchdown game for Miami. Ladarius Gunter added a pick six to seal the deal in the fourth quarter.
The game was tied 17-17 at the half, with GT being aided by several costly Miami turnovers. But the 'Canes were unstoppable on offense and their D slowed the triple option just enough over the final 2 quarters to blow the game wide open.
Morris was particularly impressive on this day, and he was visibly hobbled yet still managed to make huge plays in the passing game. A 69 yard catch and run by Allen Hurns to pay dirt in the third quarter gave the 'Canes the lead for good. Highlights below (ACC Digital).
For Miami, they will of course be breaking in a new QB (Ryan Williams if healthy, Kevin Olsen, or true freshman Brad Kaaya). And underrated WR Allen Hurns is now vying for a spot in the NFL with Jacksonville. A top 10 class will surely impact the roster with guys like DE/OLB Chad Thomas, Rb Joseph Yearby, and OT KC McDermott possibly seeing a lot of early playing time. Beyond that, most of the key players should look the same for the 'Canes.
For a closer look at the turnover on the Yellow Jackets' roster I enlisted the help of Joey Weaver of SB Nation's GT site, From The Rumble Seat.
Tech looks to replace 3 of 4 up front, including second-round NFL Draft pick Jeremiah Attaochu. They also look to replace utility man Jemea Thomas in the secondary (played all spots back there, and was quite the play maker). Additionally they have to replace QB Vad Lee, and they've also lost three graduated offensive lineman -- both tackles and the center. There are a lot of good pieces on both sides of the ball for this team, but there's also some more "foundation" type of positions that are in question at this point due to losses.
At QB, it's now between the speedy Justin Thomas and the bulldozer Tim Byerly for the starting job. Thomas is much smaller (5'10", ~185lbs) but with blazing speed, and Byerly is bigger with more of an inside running style. (If you remember recent Georgia Tech QBs, Byerly reminds us of Nesbitt in how he runs, Thomas more of Tevin Washington.)
Probably the biggest story this offseason has been the abundance of transfers the team has seen. QB Ty Griffin had a great spring game and was really impressing a lot of folks, and two weeks later he decided he would transfer. A couple of other signing class-mates, DE Kevin Robbins and DT Justin Akins, also elected to transfer. MLB-turned-DE Jabari Hunt-Days was declared academically ineligible for this fall (he'll stay at Georgia Tech and try to regain eligibility), as was hopeful freshman phenom RB Travis Custis (he transferred to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas and is unlikely to return). We had our spring game on Good Friday in the middle of a monsoon and, unsurprisingly, attendance suffered, creating a PR nightmare. Our roofs leaked. We got bad gas mileage. Our pet fish died. It's generally been a pretty wonderful and uplifting off season.
What's to be expected?
Because of their unique offense (not to mention Miami's struggles in general defensively the last 2 seasons) this is one UM can not afford to overlook. The good news is that if Kaaya and/or Olsen are ineffective early, there is a good chance that Williams will be available at QB. The bad news is that this game is a road contest after a home game Vs Duke, and before another Vs Cincinnati. You always want the extra week or couple of days to prepare for Paul Johnson's squad. Miami has more talent top to bottom with players like Duke Johnson, Stacy Coley, Denzel Perryman, and Tracy Howard Leading the way. If they play good, disciplined football and stick to their assignment defensively this game is extremely winnable. However if they let GT gash them with long runs, it could be a long day. Getting the Jackets in as many third and longs as possible is always a big key for the 'Canes. Often it leads to turnovers and Tech obviously is not good at playing from behind.
Once again we turn to Joey for a Tech perspective on this game as well:
I think the biggest concern for us will be the same as it's been the last two years, that being Duke Johnson. He went for 100+ yards combined rushing and receiving in 2012, and then last year went for 184 on the ground and another 27 through the air. I also think it became abundantly clear last year after his injury just how much he means to the Miami offense. I feel if we can slow him down (because nobody is going to stop him), we'll have a shot to win. I also think a lot of this game is surprisingly going to hinge on Georgia Tech's secondary. We have a lot of talent in the secondary and have for a few years, but for whatever reason it's always struggled to stop folks when it really counts. They'll have to do a nice job of defending against a new QB for Miami, but also will have to really help in run support. (Think, now they account for just under half of the defense, with 5 guys in the back and only 6 up front.) I feel like both teams have a lot of pieces to replace (at least some important ones at Miami), so this one will certainly be interesting given the recent history in the series.
My Way Too Early Prediction:
The Hurricanes have the better athletes top to bottom, and should have an improved defensive front. Guys like Michael Wyche, Tyriq McCord, Al-Quadin Muhammad, and freshman Chad Thomas should make enough plays to keep GT from scoring at will. On the other side of the ball it all hinges on QB play. I expect Williams will be back by this point of the season and do enough to balance things out, while Joe Yearby and Duke Johnson gash the inexperienced Yellow Jackets front. In the end it still comes down to turnovers, and Miami likely forces a few more in a 34-24 win.