Yellow Jackets Vs. Hurricanes: Things To Watch

No. 11 Canes Look To Keep Momentum As Georgia Tech’s Triple Option Comes to Hard Rock Stadium

Miami Gardens, FLA — Fresh off a Florida State win, the No. 11 ranked Miami Hurricanes (4-0) take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1) Saturday. Originally scheduled for Thursday night, this matchup was moved due to Hurricane Irma. Both teams enter the matchup 2-0 in conference play. As a result, first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division is on the line.

PHOTO: Danny Karnik

Yellow Jackets’ head coach Paul Johnson, brings his triple-option attack to Hard Rock Stadium. While enjoying the win over FSU, last week would have been a bye week for the Hurricanes. The triple-option is one of the toughest offense to game plan for, especially with one week to prepare. However, Georgia Tech did have their bye week and had two weeks to prepare for the Hurricanes.

Miami head coach, Mark Richt holds a career record of 14-2 against Georgia Tech [13-2 at the University of Georgia], leading Miami to a 35-21 win in 2016. With the all-time series against the Yellow Jackets tied 11-11, the Canes look to win their tenth straight game.

Georgia Tech Offense

Ranked second in the Nation at 396 rushing yards per game, this may be Johnson’s best version of the triple option. The Yellow Jackets rank first in time of possession (36:39) and running the football is the end all be all in Johnson’s high powered offense. Georgia Tech has led the ACC and finished among the top ten nationally in rushing yardage since Johnson had taken the helm at Georgia Tech in 2007.

The Yellow Jackets have two players with 400+ yards rushing and four touchdowns each. It starts with junior quarterback TaQuon Marshall. After four career starts, Marshall has proved to be one of the most dynamic players in college football with 856 total yards and 13 touchdowns. In addition to Marshall, running back KirVonte Benson ranks second in the ACC in yards per game (behind Marshall), which is top 15 in the nation as well.

PHOTO: BRETT DAVIS-USA TODAY

Georgia Tech is used to running against stacked boxes and as a result, they game plan for it. The Yellow Jackets consistently run the ball in third and long situations as well. This Georgia Tech team fears no one and will lull teams to sleep as they experience the same action over and over. When defenses are too focused on the run, they gash teams through the air with play action passes.

Georgia Tech Defense

The Yellow Jackets have a very stout defense four games into the season. Georgia Tech gives up 19 points per game while allowing 260 yards per game, which is sixth in the nation. The Yellow Jackets have forced 26 three and outs 53.1 percent of their defensive drives and second in the country.

Georgia Tech’s offense helps their defense by way of time of possession. They come into drives fresh as the Yellow Jackets’ defense spends 56 plays on the field, fewest in the nation.

PHOTO: JASON GETZ – USA TODAY

Georgia Tech’s most experienced position group is in the secondary, where the Yellow Jackets returned all five starters from last season. With Miami’s top receiver Ahmmon Richards being questionable, the Georgia Tech secondary will challenge the receivers from Miami all game long.

Miami Offense

The Hurricanes will be without running back Mark Walton due to a season-ending ankle injury last Saturday vs. the Seminoles. Sophomore running back Travis Homer is the next man up, averaging 8.3 yards per carry with three touchdowns. The sophomore also has five receptions for 71 yards, averaging 14.2 yards per catch. Miami will lean on Homer heavily as their primary task on offense will be to gain first downs.

PHOTO: CANES FOOTBALL

Hurricanes redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier has earned the love of every Miami fan for his GW drive against Florida State. The junior snapped a seven-game slump against the Noles with a GW touchdown pass in Tallahassee, with six seconds left.

Looking to start his career 6-0, Rosier will face his toughest defense as a starter. Georgia Tech ranks 11th in the nation in passing yards, allowing 158.3 yards per game. Rosier will have to use his legs quite a bit to help move the chains and keep drives alive against this stingy defense. Possibly without Richards, Rosier will look for his favorite target, receiver Braxton Berrios.

Miami quarterback Malik Rosier (12) hands off the football to running back Mark Walton during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Bethune-Cookman, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Photo: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky.

If the Hurricanes cannot sustain drives, succumbing to Georgia Tech’s three and outs, they will be in for a long game. Even if Miami isn’t scoring, they have to help there own stout defense by keeping them fresh.

Miami Defense

Georgia Tech’s offense presents different challenges from most Power-5 Teams. Stopping the triple option consists of gap responsibility, assignment football, open field tackling and a heightened sense of awareness.

“We are going to have to make tackles,” defensive back Jaquan Johnson said. “We are going to have to read our keys and make the tackle when the ball spits into open field. They do a lot of things to make you get your eyes off your key, but if you keep your focus on your man, you should be fine.”

The Yellow Jackets don’t pass very often, but when they do, they are efficient and pass for huge chunks of yardage as defenses think about stopping the run. They lead the ACC with 17.5 yards per completion. Miami can’t lose sight of the receivers as Georgia Tech embarks on long drives throughout the game.

Georgia Tech, however, has an issue protecting the ball; committing 14 fumbles and losing eight, Miami will look to break out the turnover chain, which they have in every game this season.

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Prediction

This game will be hard fought, low-scoring, defensive game. Furthermore, Miami’s defensive line will control the line scrimmage allowing the linebackers run freely putting Georgia Tech in obvious passing situations.

Miami 24 – Georgia Tech 18