‘Canes will have hands full with Yellow Jackets

Miami (8-1) and Georgia Tech (6-3) will finally get to play on Saturday after Hurricane Wilma forced the game to be moved from Oct. 25. The Hurricanes will be looking to get one step closer to the inaugural ACC Championship game on Dec. 3 and earn their ninth straight win.

The Hurricanes are coming off a 47-17 win at Wake Forest last weekend in which sophomore quarterback Kyle Wright had a career day. Wright, who was named the ACC Offensive Back of the Week, tied the school record with five touchdown passes and threw for 319 yards. Running back Charlie Jones also played well in his first start, gaining 90 yards and scoring twice.

Although Miami’s defense gave up 369 yards after not allowing more than 200 in the five previous games, the unit did force six turnovers for the second straight week. The Hurricanes are still ranked first in the country in total yards, only giving up an average of 231.89 per game. Miami is tied for second in the nation in points allowed, giving up 11.11 and are first in the nation in pass efficiency defense.

The defense could have its hands full this weekend, as Georgia Tech boasts one of the best wide receivers in the country. All-America candidate Calvin Johnson leads the ACC in receiving yards per game and is second in receptions per game. The sophomore has averaged 4.9 catches and 85.1 yards per game.

Miami must be wary of GT quarterback Reggie Ball. Ball has rushed for 260 yards in his last five games, including three touchdowns. Ball has been sacked only four times all season, and as a team GT leads the ACC in fewest sacks allowed with six.

Former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Chan Gailey has taken the Yellow Jackets to their ninth straight bowl eligible season, but in the last couple of months, there has been a slight fall from grace. The Jackets have been ranked as high as 15th this season after starting the year 3-0.

Miami Head Coach Larry Coker said he knows this is a tough team.

“They have tremendous talent and if they can look real good in a win at Auburn in such a hostile environment, they can win anywhere and they certainly have our attention,” Coker said.

Not only does GT have a potent offense, but the defense has corralled the fifth most interceptions in the nation. The Jackets have 17 on the season, including 10 in the first three games of the season.

A year ago, the fourth ranked Hurricanes went to Atlanta and handled Georgia Tech 27-3 in a game where Kyle Wright got his first real playing time. Georgia Tech leads the all time series with the Hurricanes 6-4, but this will only be the second game of the series played at the Orange Bowl. The last was a 49-7 victory for Miami on Nov. 10, 1967.

Kickoff is set for 7:45 on ESPN Saturday night.

Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.