The Hurricanes will welcome the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their triple-option attack to Sun Life Stadium this Saturday.
Miami (6-4, 3-3) is coming off of a humiliating defeat at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels while Georgia Tech (3-7, 1-6) lost a thriller against the Virginia Tech Hokies last week. Both teams have had up-and-down seasons, but Georgia Tech’s 2015 campaign has been particularly rough. After winning their first two games, the Yellow Jackets have gone on to lose seven of their last eight games. This put them out of the running for a bowl bid and essentially ended their hopes of having even a mildly successful season.
Miami, on the other hand, can still make something out of this chaotic season so long as the Canes finish strong. A pair of wins to close out the season can put the Hurricanes in a decent bowl game, and it all starts with a win on Saturday. Here is what Miami should do on defense to stop Georgia Tech.
This could apply to either drawing penalties or to the defensive scheme, but both will be equally important in Saturday’s game. In terms of penalties, Miami is dead last in the nation with 84.9 penalty yards per game. This is unacceptable and will doom Miami on Saturday due to the Yellow Jackets’ style of play. The last thing Miami needs to do against a running team is gift them free yards.
Defending against Georgia Tech requires extreme discipline regarding assignments at all times. Pure athleticism will not save Miami; Georgia Tech thrives off of mismatches and by outnumbering opponents on outside runs. If the Hurricane players can stick to their assignments and fill their gaps, the Yellow Jackets’ offense will be limited.
Be wary of the pass
Georgia Tech runs the triple-option offense, an offense that seldom sees the quarterback throw the ball. The Yellow Jackets will mostly throw only in third-and-long situations or when trying to catch the defense off guard. Miami has to be ready at all times though, as Head Coach Paul Johnson likes to pepper trick plays into his scheme. The Yellow Jackets have only thrown the ball 165 times this season, 13th out 14 teams in the ACC, but when they have, Georgia Tech has scored 13 touchdowns on just 71 completions. That’s one touchdown for nearly every five completions. All it takes is one play and Miami can go from being in control to giving up a touchdown.
Finish every play
The Hurricanes could do everything outlined above perfectly and still be in trouble if they can’t bring down the Georgia Tech running backs. Tackling is obviously one of the most fundamental defensive skills in football, but it takes on a special importance against the Yellow Jackets. Whether the ball carrier is five yards behind the line of scrimmage or cutting it upfield, the Hurricanes will have to stop him at the first chance they get. Miami gives up 202.7 yards rushing per game, which is 106th nationally out of 128 teams. They will certainly have to flip the script on Saturday as Georgia Tech will be sticking to the ground game.