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Miami Hurricanes Schedule Preview: Georgia Tech

As part of the dwindling offseason, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!

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Sleeper Team for an ACC Championship or more?

The Jackets are coming off of an  impressive 11 win season, that included a fantastic performance in defeating Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl (in fact they were 2-0 Vs the mighty SEC with a win Vs Georgia as well).

They yet again claimed the ACC Coastal (something UM has yet to achieve), and they return 13 starters.

Their nifty signal caller, Justin Thomas (1,086 rushing yards, 18/6 TD/INT ratio) is among them.

Coming in to 2015, most every preseason poll has them in the Top 20, and rightfully so.

Expectations are high in Atlanta.

Can they repeat the feat and keep the 'Canes and the rest of the Coastal out of the conference title game again?

Will Paul Johnson's squad take it one step further and challenge FSU and perhaps Clemson as the best team overall in the ACC?

Could they defy the odds and do even more than that?

With their flexbone offense, we know they will move the ball, eat up the clock, and put points on the board.

The biggest question to their season, and more importantly the game on 11/21, will be if and how much their defense improves.

Series History

The Hurricanes are just 9-11 overall Vs GT.

They did have a 5 game winning streak Vs the Jackets, but that was snapped in a very disappointing 30-17 loss last year (A game UM fans will always remember for Miami's extremely and unsettling conservative approach on D).

My all time favorite game in the series, is easily the 2012 contest, that I refer to affectionately as "The Mike James game."

Players to Watch

Obviously it all starts with Thomas for the Jackets.  Thomas is the perfect mix  blend of fast, intelligent, and elusive when running the triple option.

He won't make anyone forget Peyton Manning when he drops back to pass, but he is pretty efficient when Johnson lets him throw.

Miami fans will be thrilled to know that Zach Laskey has no more eligibility.

A Back Broderick Snoddy is a speedy option, who should get more burn this season.

At the all important B Back,  they are a bit green.  But Johnson should be able to get decent production from either CJ Leggett or Stanford transfer Patrick Skov.

They must also find a new threat on the outside for Thomas to go to deep to.   Michael Summers could be that guy.

The skill position players will benefit greatly due to the fact that GT returns 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line.

Because of that experience, Thomas' skill level, and the fact that scheme is as important if not more important to their offensive success than personnel, expect this unit to hum.

Defensively, Georgia Tech was anything but dominant last year.

And they lose stud LB Quayshawn Nealy.

However at the back end, they have one of the best safeties in the conference in Jamal Golden.

Seniors Chris Milton and DJ White, are a pair of well above average CBs.

Up front Jabari Days-Hunt (ineligible last season) is the best of the bunch.

And while they may not have the depth to improve much against the run in 2015, but they have the ability to produce takeaways, something that will be key Vs the 'Canes and through out the season for Tech.

Overall Impression

There are more than a few games on the schedule that will be critical to the success of the 2015 Miami Hurricanes.

Obviously the FSU game being the one ALL 'Canes fans have circled.  And the out of conference contest Vs Nebraska another big time proving point.

But this contest against the Yellow Jackets could very well dictate who wins the Coastal (no disrespect to Virginia Tech or Duke intended).

It could be a HUGE game for Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards, Mark Walton, and that young UM offensive line against the Georgia Tech front 7.

It will also be critical for Miami to get some stops in some fashion or another.

Deon Bush, and his ability to separate ball carriers from the ball,  could be the most important player on the field for either team.

But guys like Al-Quadin Muhammad, Tyriq McCord, Raphael Kirby, and Chad Thomas will need big games as well. And they will have to play good fundamental assignment football.

Hopefully this season, Al Golden, Mark D'Onofrio and staff take a less measured and more aggressive approach Vs GT.

If Miami can defeat the Jackets (the early spread has GT favored by 6-7 points),  they just might finally attain that elusive Coastal Division Crown.