It is hard to believe that since the ACC split into two divisions in 2005, Miami has never won the Coastal division. I remember when this move was first made and everyone thought that it would be Florida State against Miami in the ACC championship every year. Well, that has yet to happen, in large part because Miami has been going through tough times since the 2005 season. On the flip side, Miami’s opponent this weekend, Georgia Tech, has had more success than Miami since the division split, with winning an ACC championship in 2009. The Miami-Georgia Tech game this Saturday is a big Coastal division matchup with Tech losing last week and this being Miami’s first ACC game of the season.
Georgia Tech was shut down last week in their 17-10 home loss against Virginia Tech. The Hokies shut down the running game of the Yellow Jackets and forced Vad Lee to throw more times than he would’ve liked. Georgia Tech came into that game averaging over 300 rushing yards per game but were held to just 129 yards on the ground against a very good Bud Foster defense. The Hokies forced Lee to throw the ball 24 times, and he only completed seven of those while throwing two interceptions. They also shut down Lee in the running game, holding him to just 35 yards on 18 carries. A similar defensive effort will be needed by the Hurricanes this weekend in order to escape with a win at home. Georgia Tech’s offense is strange in the sense that when it works, it really works, but when it is not working, then it is just plain ugly. There does not seem to be any in between moments with Paul Johnson‘s triple option.
Miami has been pretty good defending the run this season, although they have not played a great schedule. The Canes rank 34th in the nation in rush defense giving up 123 yards per game. Miami will always have athletes on defense, and this season is no different. Shayon Green and Denzel Perryman are two guys that can change a game on defense and are always around the ball. Green is a defensive end which means that he and the other ends will have to play assignment football against the option. They need to make Lee pitch the ball and allow the cornerbacks and linebackers to contain the halfback on the outside.
Georgia Tech is in a must-win situation with already having lost to Virginia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets lose this game, then they are almost certainly eliminated from the division race. Fans of Georgia Tech thought that this season was going to be different and they were going to win the big games that they needed to, but the way they lost to Virginia Tech at home last Thursday did not give fans of the program optimism. It does not help that the Yellow Jackets have lost four in a row to Miami, a team they had beaten four times in a row prior to this losing streak. If Miami can figure out this offense early on in the game then it could be a long day for Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets.
Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20.