After last week’s loss to Virginia Tech at home, the Georgia Tech football team (3-1) will travel south to face the Miami Hurricanes(4-0) on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM at Sun Life Stadium.
Miami, who had NCAA regulation issues last season, decided against going to the ACC Championship game, allowing Georgia Tech to go instead. Georgia Tech currently leads the series 10-8, but Miami has won the last 4 meetings. A win Saturday could very well put the Hurricanes in the position to win the division, while a win for the Yellow Jackets keeps them in the race altogether. Simply put, this is a very important game for both teams. A trip to the ACC Championship game hangs in the balance.
Vad Lee, who’s had a decent season so far, struggled against Virginia Tech last week, only completing 7 of 24 passes for 144 yards and throwing 2 interceptions. Virginia Tech also held the 4th-ranked rushing offense in the nation to only 129 yards. Miami will look to capitalize on the decrease in production of Georgia Tech’s offense. Miami is coming off of a win against Savannah State University, which was, in all honesty, more of a practice game for them, and a 49-21 win against USF. Miami is also averaging 45.3 points per game and is only allowing 12.5 points. The Yellow Jackets will have a fight on their hands, as they’ve scored an average of 36.5 points per game and 345.3 rushing yards before hitting a wall in the loss to Virginia Tech.
My main concerns in this matchup are Georgia Tech’s tendency to fall behind in games, and their turnovers. In the last two games, Tech has come out flat, seemed disoriented on both offense and defense and they never seemed to regain composure. They can’t afford to fall behind against Miami, as they’ll certainly take advantage because they’re aggressive and don’t let up. The fumbles are numerous for the Jackets as well, and with the Hurricanes swarming to the ball, it will be imperative that Tech protects every possession.
Miami is also averaging 262.5 passing yards per game. The way Georgia Tech’s secondary has looked in the past two games, I’m quite concerned about their ability to defend against an air attack. Logan Thomas and Bryn Renner exposed the secondary’s weakness and if Miami has watched the film properly, they know exactly where those weak spots are. The soft spot for Miami will be their rushing defense. Although they’ve improved since last season, Georgia Tech is still one of the top-ranked rushing offenses in the nation. If Miami’s rushing defense isn’t up to par, it’ll be a long day for them because Tech’s offense is known to tire out defenses.
All in all, this game is a statement game for both teams. The team that wants it more and that has made the proper adjustments will come out on top. Coach Paul Johnson is very much aware that Tech’s chances of staying in the division title race are on the line. Last week, he stated that if they cannot effectively run the ball, they won’t win games. They obviously aren’t a pass first team, they’re run first. The key for Tech is to make sure they’re able to find alternatives in the option game when one dimension of it stops working. Hopefully, Paul Johnson has a solid game plan for the Hurricanes, because they certainly have one for Tech.