College Featured Miami Hurricanes

Preview: Miami Hurricanes vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The University of Miami Hurricanes will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to face ACC rival Georgia Tech, Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field.

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN 2 | 560 WQAM

Weather Forecast: 41 degrees; Clear (1 percent chance of rain)

All-time Series: Miami leads 12-11 (Last won: Miami 25-24 in 2017)

Miami Hurricanes

Head Coach: Mark Richt (3rd season)

Record: 5-4 (2-3 ACC)

Ranked: NR

Top Players: DT Gerald Willis; LB Shaquille Quarterman; LB Michael Pinckney; WR Jeff Thomas; RB DeeJay Dallas; TE Brevin Jordan; DE Joe Jackson; DB Jaquan Johnson; DB Michael Jackson; DB Sheldrick Redwine; QB N’Kosi Perry; OL Navaughn Donaldson; OL Tyler Gauthier; DL Jonathan Garvin; RB Travis Homer.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Head Coach: Paul Johnson (11th season)

Record: 5-4 (3-3 ACC)

Ranked: NR

Top Players: QB TaQuon Marshall, QB Tobias Oliver; RB Jordan Mason; RB Jerry Howard; RB Qua Searcy; RB Clinton Lynch; DB Malik Rivera; LB Brant Mitchell; DL Anree Saint-Amour; DL Kyle Cerge-Henderson; DL Desmond Branch; DB/LB Jalen Johnson; OL Will Bryan; OL Parker Braun.

The Storyline

For a season that began with so much optimism and so much promise, the University of Miami Hurricanes finds themselves in the midst of a disappointing three-game losing streak in which there’s unrest at the quarterback position and turmoil brewing from the outside as fans grow more frustrated.

What’s waiting for the Canes this weekend is ACC rival Georgia Tech, a team that has historically been a thorn in UM’s side because of its unique triple-option offense.

Even though Miami has won the past two meetings, both had caveats. UM’s 2016’s victory over Georgia Tech was sparked by a pair of defensive touchdowns, which ultimately were the difference in the 35-21 game. And the 2017 tilt between the two saw the Hurricanes need late-game heroics from receiver Darrell Langham and a game-winning field goal from kicker Michael Badgley to seal a 25-24 win in the rain.

This Saturday’s game represents an opportunity for the Hurricanes to quiet the noise that’s surrounding the program. Miami has scored 13, 14, and 12 points in its past three games respectively and much of the blame for the anemic offensive production can be pointed to the fact that UM head coach Mark Richt has been playing a game of musical chairs with his quarterbacks.

Richt has switched back and forth between redshirt senior Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry at quarterback – swapping one for the other when he feels they’ve struggled, almost on a series-by-series basis.

The Hurricanes coach did come out this week and name Perry the starter for the big road game in Atlanta, Georgia, but didn’t commit to saying that Perry would be the only quarterback to take snaps this week when pressed by reporters.

Because the UM offense has struggled the past few weeks, it has had an adverse effect on the Canes defense. Even though Miami’s defense continues to be one among the nation’s leaders in tackles for loss, it has started bending more as opposing offenses have gotten more opportunities to score since the UM offense is unable to sustain drives.

It’ll be no rest for the weary Canes looking to snap their losing streak as Georgia Tech enters Saturday’s game on a two-game winning streak as well as winners of four of their past five games.

The Yellow Jackets have racked up more than 460 rushing yards in each of their past two victories and has averaged just over 20 minutes more of possessing the football than its opponents in that span.

Like Miami, Georgia Tech has a bit of a carousel at quarterback since freshman quarterback Tobias Oliver played well in the place of injured senior TaQuon Marshall. Oliver played well in the team’s win over Virginia Tech two weeks ago and split time with Marshall, who missed time with an upper-body injury, this past week in the win over North Carolina.

Georgia Tech’s offense can get away with playing both because in Johnson’s offense, the quarterback is really another ball carrier and both can line up in formations simultaneously – with one essentially serving as a running back that can also throw the football.

Miami will have its work cut out for it, especially with the game being a night-time, nationally televised showdown at Bobby Dodd Stadium. If the Hurricanes want to keep alive the small glimmer of hope they have at possibly winning the ACC Coastal title for a second straight year, they must find a way to slow down the Yellow Jackets.

Injury Report

Miami

+ RB Travis Homer (calf) is PROBABLE for Saturday

+ TE Will Mallory (eye) is QUESTIONABLE for Saturday

+ RB Lorenzo Lingard (knee) is OUT for the season

+ LB De’Andre Wilder (neck) is OUT for the season

+ TE Brian Polendey (knee) is OUT for the season

+ TE Michael Irvin II (knee) is OUT for the season

+ OL George Brown Jr. (knee) is OUT indefinitely

+ DE Gregory Rousseau (ankle) is OUT indefinitely

+ WR Ahmmon Richards (neck) is OUT

Georgia Tech

+ RB KirVonte Benson (knee) is OUT for the season

+ QB Lucas Johnson (leg) is OUT indefinitely

+ WR Adoncias Sanders (collarbone) is OUT indefinitely

Miami Keys To Victory

+ Make The Most Of Possessions – If Georgia Tech’s offense finds its rhythm against the Miami defense, UM’s offense may not see the football very much. Each possession’s value grows exponentially against the Yellow Jackets. The Hurricanes have to sustain their own drives and come away with touchdowns – not field goals.

+ No “Hero Ball” On Defense – Georgia Tech’s offense is simple in concept but it gives opponents problems because it forces each individual defensive player to stay awake all game. Each defender will have an assignment, and if the defender has a lapse on his assignment – being out of position or lazy in execution – the Yellow Jackets can and will make you pay.

+ Stay With One Quarterback – If Miami’s offense is to make the most of its possessions Saturday, it could itself a huge favor by sticking with one quarterback. Richt named Perry the starter this week and it would benefit all parties involved if the head coach let Perry work through any struggles and allow the offense to build continuity.

They Said It

University of Miami senior defensive back Michael Jackson when asked about what kind of mentality is needed when going up against Georgia Tech…

“You have to be physical, especially at corner. Us corners have to be physical and tackle. It’s not a cute game. You’re going to be dirty. You’re going to be sore after the game. You’re going to be banging all game and look up and it’s only the third quarter and you have to keep banging. It’s just a physical mindset.”

Georgia Tech’s South Florida Connections

NONE

+ While Georgia Tech’s 2018 roster doesn’t have any players from Miami-Dade or Broward County high schools, the Yellow Jackets do have 10 players that attended high school in the state of Florida.

Score Projections

Georgia Tech (-3) over Miami

J.T. Wilcox = Miami 22, Georgia Tech 20

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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