Last time University of Miami met the Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets derailed the No. 3 Miami team that looked poised to get to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.
This year, it’s the Hurricanes who are trailing in the ACC Coastal Division, as the 5-2 Yellow Jackets are 3-1 in the division and the 5-2 Hurricanes are 2-1 in the division.
“We are still in position to be where we want to be. I like where we are. We have something to play for,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “We have been off the radar a little bit, but we have fought our way back onto the radar.”
The good news for the ‘Canes is that they will be getting 12 of 13 suspended players back for this game. They will also have wide receiver Ryan Moore back. Whether or not he will be ready to play is still up in the air, but he returned to practice on Tuesday.
On the flip side, Miami has likely lost starting middle linebacker Romeo Davis for the season due to injury. The Hurricanes will look to linebacker Darryl Sharpton to fill the void left by Davis.
Entering the game, unranked Miami is coming off a close, emotionally charged 20-15 win over the Duke Blue Devils, while No. 21 Georgia Tech is coming off a big 31-7 loss at the hands of the Clemson Tigers.
This game has major implications for both teams, as the Yellow Jackets are looking to stretch their division lead, while the Hurricanes are looking to take over the division lead for the first time this season.
“This is a big game,” quarterback Kyle Wright said. “This is a make or break game. There is a lot riding on this game, for both teams. Come Saturday, we will be ready.”
For the Hurricanes to win this game they have to maintain their stamina throughout all four quarters, especially offensively. The ‘Canes have been quick to start games but tend to level off as the game progresses.
“We have got to finish. We have to hit on all cylinders,” Coker said. “We have to hit on that theme: finish, finish, finish. We have to play a complete game.”
Defensively, Miami will have its hands full with a Georgia Tech team that likes to run the football. This could play into the hands of the Miami defense, as the ‘Canes are as tough as they come in terms of stopping the run.
The Hurricane run defense will have to key-in on running back Tashard Choice and quarterback Reggie Ball. Last year, when the two teams faced off, Choice rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown, while Ball secured the other Yellow Jacket touchdown.
“Reggie Ball is a special player. He is key to their offense,” Coker said. “He is a good passer and a good runner. He is a very good player.”
Georgia Tech also features Calvin Johnson who is often referred to as the best wide receiver in college football. Johnson is Ball’s favorite target with 559 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
“We have to mix up the coverages on him,” Defensive Coordinator Randy Shannon said. “We have to make Johnson adjust. We have to make him do things he doesn’t want to do.”
The Hurricane offensive line and Wright will have to stay alert. Georgia Tech likes the zone blitz, playing a three deep coverage. To prevent results similar to last year, in which Wright was hurried too often, the Hurricanes will have to establish the run and exploit the gaps left in the zone coverage.
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.