As the Miami Hurricanes continue the 2021 season, they return home to Hard Rock Stadium to face off against another Coastal Division foe: the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
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What a difference 2 weeks makes, no? Just a fortnight ago, the Canes were 2-4 and Manny Diaz was on the verge of being fired in-season. Now at 4-4 (2-2 ACC) after consecutive wins over ranked opponents, Miami has a new outlook on the year, and a renewed energy to push toward a potential Coastal Division championship.
On the other hand, Georgia Tech has stumbled. Absent a 45-22 win over then 21st ranked UNC, there hasn’t been much to like for the Yellow Jackets this year. At 3-4 (2-4 ACC), GT has lost 4 of their last 6 — their entire ACC schedule to this point of the year — including 3 of 4, and the last 2 games after the bye week.
When GT is on Offense
Geoff Collins’s team has a balanced and intermittently effective offense. The Yellow Jackets average 417 yards per game at 6.27 yards per play. Not the most explosive offense ever, but one that has show signs of life, and has plenty of athletes who, if given the space, can make plays.
GT is led by QB Jeff Sims. The super freshman from Jacksonville was once committed to FSU, but flipped to GT late in the process. Sims started the year as QB1, got injured, but won the job back recently and will be the starter today. Sims has completed 62% of his passes for 1274 yards (8.5yd/att) with 11 TD and 6 INTs. So there can be the opportunity for Miami (or any other team) to turn GT over when Sims is forced to pass the ball.
The superstar of the offense if not the team is RB Jahmyr Gibbs. He, like Sims, is a former 4-star recruit but Gibbs is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s an incredible athlete who has the ability to take the ball the distance at a moment’s notice.
Gibbs is GT’s leading rusher with 524 yards and 2 TDs, but Sims, the QB, is the 2nd leading rusher with 379 yards and 4 TDs. Dontae Smith and Jordan Mason also chip in to the rushing attack with 253 yards and 244 yards, respectively. So, with 4 players who basically have 250+ yards on the season (Mason is only 6 yards shy of that mark), there are plenty of complimentary options to Gibbs’s superstar ability.
Tech’s leading receiver is senior Kyric McGowan with 29 catches for 422 yards and 7 TDs. He’s by far the biggest passing threat, and has caught nearly half of GT’s passing TDs to this point of the season. So he’s a guy to watch. Adding in to the passing attack are Malachi Carter, Adonicas Sanders, Kalani Norris (a Miami native), and...Jahmyr Gibbs, who is actually the 3rd leading receiver on the team. So #1 is a player to watch both running the ball and catching it for the Tech offense.
Three things to watch: Georgia Tech—Will the #Canes build on the success of the past two weeks on Saturday? https://t.co/BBXGyUi4YV pic.twitter.com/IlHmeg2HWN— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) November 5, 2021
When GT is on Defense
Employing a 4-2-5 or 3-3-5 scheme, GT has been average at best on defense this year. I mean, outside of the Carolina game, where the Yellow Jackets stifled Sam Howell and company en route to a 23pt win — largely due to the 3-3-5 being a puzzle that Carolina could not solve — GT’s defense has been pretty pedestrian.
GT has allowed 489+ yards and 6.3 yards per play weekly since the ACC schedule started. There was a week where they held a team to 5.3 yards per play, but that was Duke, and they’re among the worst teams in the country, so how much does that really count?
Looking over the stat sheet, GT has a bunch of guys with a lot of tackles, which will happen when a defense is on the field a bunch, as theirs has been for the majority of this season. The LBs — Quez Jackson, Ayinde Eley, and Charlie Thomas — lead the way, with DBs Juanyeh Thomas, Wesley Walker, and one-time Miami recruiting target Tariq Carpenter joining the crew.
GT has 45 TFLs, good for 76th nationally. Literally middle of the road. That number is tied with North Carolina and NC State — teams Miami has already played — and others, so that should give you an idea of the level of disruption that GT has had on defense so far this season.
The Yellow Jackets are allowing over 43% conversions on 3rd down — that’s roughly 3 out of 8. And, GT is allowing scores on over 84% of Red Zone possessions by their opponents. Both of those things point to the fact that Miami could be able to keep possession of the football, then score the ball when the opportunity presents itself.
Film Preview: Georgia Tech at Miami, 11/6. The ‘Canes are clear favorites at home against the Yellow Jackets. https://t.co/vKAHgsoIap— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) November 4, 2021
This a matchup of teams trending in opposite directions. Georgia Tech is stumbling badly, despite more talent on the roster (by recruiting rankings) than they’ve ever had. Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, Miami is getting hot, playing the right players (finally) and starting to embody the kind of performance that nearly everyone believed this team should exhibit before the season.
In short, expect Miami to keep the good times going and roll to a win that keeps the winning streak going and covers the 10pt spread.
PREDICTION: Miami 37 Georgia Tech 24