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September 21, 2012Georgia Tech absolutely overwhelmed Virginia last week, going for over 60 yards on three of their first four plays from scrimmage, en route to a 56-20 demolition of the Cavaliers. This week, the Yellow Jackets welcome a young Miami Hurricanes squad to town, a team that has had Georgia Tech's number over the past couple seasons. So far this season, though, this doesn't appear to be the Georgia Tech team of recent seasons, and I think Miami is extremely outmatched heading into this ACC Coastal contest. If the Yellow Jackets perform at the same high level this Saturday as they did last Saturday against Virginia, Tech should have no problem sending the Hurricanes home with their first conference loss. Don't be fooled, however; Miami, just like always, has a plethora of extremely talented athletes. Tech isn't going to be able to simply show up, go through the motions, and leave with their second conference win of the season. I do feel that a solid performance from Tech will beat an outmatched Miami team.
The Yellow Jackets are a much more talented football team this season, and I don't foresee the Hurricanes just being able to assert their will offensively and bully Tech around, as they have been able to in year's past. Look for Tech to outplay Miami Saturday, and even out-physical the Hurricanes, as they exact revenge on an opponent for the second week in a row and win their third straight contest.
Miami has tried to grind it out on the ground so far this season, relying heavily on Mike James and Duke Johnson to carry the offensive load. Twice they have been successful in their conservative game planning, as they knocked off Boston College in Chestnut Hill and then destroyed Bethune-Cookman, as expected, last weekend in front of a crowd smaller than Bethune-Cookman's football team. Sandwiched in between these two wins, though, was a game that I think will strongly resemble what we can expect to watch tomorrow afternoon: a 52-13 loss. Even with the return of 6'3" junior wide out Allen Hurns, clearly, Canes quarterback Stephen Morris' favorite target, I don't think the offensive game plan changes too much for Miami. I still see them riding James and Johnson for the duration of the game, trying to sustain long drives in order to keep Georgia Tech's high-powered offense off the field. I'm sure they'll take a few shots in Hurns' direction, but the conservative strategy that Miami has played with so far this season will probably be displayed again tomorrow afternoon. As usual, Miami has an NFL-sized offensive line. Size is the only comparison one could make, however, as they haven't really been able to open up huge holes for James and Johnson. If Miami has any chance tomorrow, they're going to need to be successful on the ground. And by successful, I mean that they're going to have to sustain three or four drives that are seven to eight minutes long in order to keep Georgia Tech's offense off the field. I don't think they'll be able to just run the ball over and over again for first downs, and I think that eventually Stephen Morris is going to have to take some shots down the field to Allen Hurns. If Tech can shut down Miami's ground game and contain Allen Hurns, Tech has a good shot to win the game.
Defensively for Miami, it's just been ugly. The Canes are ranked 91st in the nation in total defense, giving up more than 31 points per game. In addition, Miami is ranked outside the top 100 in rushing yards per game, a disaster waiting to happen against Georgia Tech's vaunted triple option. For this reason, if Miami's offense can't sustain some drives and stay on the field, Georgia Tech's running game will have a field day. Miami's best linebacker Denzel Perryman is out of this game due to injury, further adding to the defensive problems for the game. Combine all this with the fact that Georgia Tech is ranked 3rd in the nation in rushing yards per game (374.0) and 15th in total points per game (44.0), and I fully expect the Yellow Jackets to light up the scoreboard tomorrow afternoon, just as they have done the past two weekends.
Wow. Great running, excellent blocking, terrific execution, and even great PASSING are all phrases that could describe Georgia Tech's offensive effort against the Virginia Cavaliers last weekend. The Georgia Tech offense made moving the ball for big chunks of yardage at a time seem extremely easy last weekend. It sounds odd to say that we can expect Georgia Tech's offensive line to out-physical Miami, but I think we're more than capable of doing so. Expect a much-improved Zach Laskey to be running the ball early and often up the middle with some success with Uzzi, Mason, and Finch opening up big running lanes. I'm all for Tech controlling the game with long, methodical drives, and I anticipate that we'll be able to do that against a young Miami defense dealing with some injuries. Look for Tevin Washing to take a shot or two down the field early against Miami, as Tech looks to take the opposition out of the game early, just as they did with Virginia last week. A lot is riding on this must-win game for Tech, and another strong offensive outburst will go a long way in ensuring that Georgia Tech gets their second conference win of the season.
On the other side of the ball, I get more and more confident with Tech's defense every single week. A much-improved defense running the 3-4 under coach Al Groh, Georgia Tech can expect to have some shots at Miami quarterback Stephen Morris. Miami's offensive line is huge, but they're slow too and I think our linebackers will have a couple clean shots on Morris throughout the course of the game, especially the speedy Jeremiah Attaochu. I also expect a field day from TJ Barnes up front. If Miami doesn't get more physical with him, he will wreak havoc in the Hurricane's backfield all afternoon. The Yellow Jackets will need to generate some pressure so that Stephen Morris, when he is looking to take some chances down the field, doesn't have time to find Allen Hurns down the field for big gains.
Georgia Tech is far superior to Miami on both sides of the ball and I really don't see us having too much trouble taking care of business tomorrow afternoon. If there's one area I see us having some difficulties in, it's the kicking game. If Georgia Tech doesn't kick the ball better tomorrow, Miami is more than capable of returning a kick for a touchdown. Our special teams were just bad last weekend, and Miami has a history of great kick returners (big example: Devin Hester). The Yellow Jackets have to cover kicks better. Doing this will mean a longer field for Miami, who so far this season hasn't shown a great ability to execute their "ground and pound" strategy. I expect our offense to have great success tomorrow regardless of how the team as a whole plays. However, if Tech can cover kicks and keep Miami's offense off the field, a rout is surely in store.
Stat of the Week: 8
Georgia Tech had eight rushers last weekend that carried the ball for an average of seven yards per carry or greater. This big play ability poses big problems for Miami's defense, and I see the Yellow Jackets shredding Miami's defense in much the same way they did to Virginia last week.
Georgia Tech 44, Miami 20
Georgia Tech should be able to handle the Hurricanes tomorrow. It definitely won't be easy, but I think the Yellow Jackets are simply better on both sides of the football. Tech will be running wild tomorrow on a young Miami defense, and I simply don't see the Hurricanes being able to run the ball successfully enough to sustain long drives, keep Georgia Tech's offense off the field, and ultimately win the game. Georgia Tech wins big in this one.
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