Well, October is finally here. The Canes begin their conference schedule with a road contest against Georgia Tech. Miami has had success versus the Yellow Jackets in recent years, winning six of the last seven. However, their last trip to Atlanta didn’t go so well for the Canes, losing 28-17 in a very poorly played/managed game. To GT’s credit, they won 11 games that season, including an Orange Bowl win over then-No. 7 Mississippi State.
Last season was a different tale for Georgia Tech. The struggled mightily against teams they dominated just a year before. They were not as deep and talented as their 2014, and it showed. They also faced some key injuries up front and at the quarterback position, and in that offense, health and stability at those positions are crucial. Here’s how the Canes fared against the Jackets in the past two seasons:
You see the type of team Tech can be when they’re moving on all cylinders. When they control the clock and get in manageable third-and-short situations, the opposing defense will be in for a long day. According to the first highlight, Miami’s offense only had the ball for 44 plays. Going along with two interceptions by Kaaya, the Canes never really got going throughout the game.
Miami Linebackers vs. GT Running Backs
It is no secret that this triple-option offense is tricky. Games like these may require more than a week’s worth of preparation and film study to master their concepts and game plan. Luckily for Miami, they are coming off a bye week and got extra time practicing their fundamentals and learning this GT scheme.
Stats of note: Miami’s defense is first nationally in yards per play and points allowed and tackles for loss. They are also No. 2 in rushing yards per carry allowed. There’s a good chance these rankings inflate slightly with the offense that Georgia Tech runs, but the numbers show that Miami is committed to stopping the run and getting teams out of their comfort zone. If Tech is forced to throw on third down, that is a huge win for the Canes defense.
What makes this offense so difficult are the moving parts and innumerable places the football can be. Instead of "see ball, get ball," defenders must, and I mean MUST, stay true to their keys and stick to their assignment. When you hear people say "assignment football," this is what they are talking about. Every man on the defense should be accountable for a man on offense. This way, there will be no (or minimal) confusion on who has the football and who must be where.
This will OFFICIALLY be Miami’s defense’s first test (I know, I said this last week). App State was a decent opponent, in my honest opinion. Their defense couldn’t keep up with Miami’s pace and talent, but their offense gave the Canes some challenges early, mainly when running back Marcus Cox was in the game.
The young trio of linebackers for Miami will honestly have to play the best games of their careers on Saturday. One mental lapse or missed assignment equals six for the Georgia Tech offense. Seldom do you see QB Justin Thomas make a bad read, especially when the offense is rolling.
While defensive line and safety play may be just as important, it will be interesting to watch how the young Miami backers play in their first contest against the triple option. I stand by my statement saying that Shaq Quarterman, Zach McCloud and Michael Pinkney will need to play their best games yet in order to stop this GT offense. They continue to mature with every passing week, and this game will truly pay dividends to their development and growth.
It’ll also be great not seeing the middle linebacker seven(!!!) yards off of the football! I fully expect the Canes offense to continue rolling and put points on the board like they did two weeks ago at App State. If Miami can keep the ball in their hands and sustain drives, it will knock GT out of their game plan and force them into uncomfortable situations. This game will be a challenge, mostly early. But at the end of the day, Miami is too talented and much better coached and should pull away late.
Miami 34-Georgia Tech 17