Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Georgia Tech at Miami Preview and Prediction Thursday September 17

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Miami Hurricanes
Thursday 7:30 PM Miami, FL ESPN
Line: MIA -5.5

Two teams looking to go 2-0 in the ACC and gain the top spot in the Coastal Division meet Thursday night in Miami as Georgia Tech travels to South Florida to face the Hurricanes.

Last Meeting: GT 41 Miami 23 GT -3 Atlanta, GA
The Yellow Jackets racked up over 500 yards of total offense, including 472 on the ground on a cold Thursday night last November. The game was not as close as the score indicated with Miami getting a late TD pass from Jacory Harris with under two minutes remaining against Tech backups.

GT out gained Miami by 130 total yards and won the turnover battle 2-1. Current Miami starter Harris split time with former starter Robert Marve; Harris was 13-18 with 2 TDs and 1INT. Miami allowed 8.4 ypc in the loss.

Jonathan Dwyer helped lead the GT rout of Miami last year

Keys To The Game:

1. Run Defense

That may sound silly considering GT is very likely to have more yards rushing than Miami, but Clemson found a way to slow Tech's offense in the second and third quarter last week and the Hurricanes need to do the same. They aren't going to stop it and force Ga Tech to pass, but if they can limit the big plays they have a great chance to win.

Conversely, Georgia Tech would like to make Miami one dimensional. Miami is 6-2 when Graig Cooper and Javarris James have 25 rush attempts and 4-9 when they do not. Although, the 'Canes were not overly successful running the ball against FSU (90 yds on 30 attempts). They were able to do it enough to keep the FSU defense off balance.

GT is averaging 6.4 yards per rush (ypr) versus Miami allowing 3.0 ypr this season; something has to give here.

2. Turnovers

In the Hurricanes six losses last season, they were minus 7 in turnover margin, including minus 1 last year against GT that scored a defensive TD off a Miami pick. Although Harris showed a lot of poise in the pocket vs FSU, he did throw two picks.

Georgia Tech so far in 2009 has put the ball on the ground 5 times and lost three of them. They also had two picks in the Clemson game. The Yellow Jackets were minus 9 in turnovers in their four losses last year.

With the talent and coaching on both sides very even, turnovers could be the difference maker.

3. Play Makers

Both of these teams have some of the best play makers in the ACC. Miami is very deep at wideout with Travis Benjamin, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldarius Johnson leading the way. Both Cooper and James have big play ability running the ball and James showed some good vision last week on pass plays.

Ga Tech will counter with a trio of backs - Jonathan Dwyer (ACC POY 2008), Anthony Allen, and Roddy Jones along with pre season first team WR Demaryius Thomas.

Both teams have big play ability and I expect several big yardage scoring plays on Thursday night. The team that can land more of them or limit the other team forces the other's offense to grind out drives where neither team has been great this season.

Ga Tech will need big plays like this one to pull of the road upset

Other Thoughts....
Each game has certain statistics and intangibles that jump out. Here are this week's:

-Miami did not spend any extra time in the off season on GT's offense, but has made adjustments in last 10 days according to players quoted in the AJC.
- In Miami's last four losses, they have been out gained in all four
-Miami gave up just one sack in 34 attempts vs FSU; last season they gave up a sack every 15 attempts
-Miami is 13-32-1 ATS in last 46 home games
-Miami has had 10 days off since FSU, GT playing its 3rd game in 13 days
-Miami is 3-9 under Randy Shannon ATS as a Home Favorite
-GT playing their second straight Thurs game, this time on the road
-GT won 4 straight over Miami
-GT defense hasn't allowed a rushing TD this season and no run longer than 20 yards
-GT 3-1 against ranked opponents under Coach Johnson
-Paul Johnson is 20-7 ATS as a road dog since 2002 (Navy, GT)
-GT has won their last 5 road openers - BC, Notre Dame, VT, Auburn, Clemson
-GT is 1-4 on Thursday road games
-The two teams average over 900 yards of total offense per game
ranking first and second in the ACC

Miami hopes the FSU win represents a turning point in the program

One more interesting note from the AJC regarding Miami's defensive preparations this year.

"The Hurricanes have made some other adjustments to try and keep Tech from running over them. As noted by the Miami Herald, in last year’s game the Hurricanes’ defensive linemen said they were lining up too far away from the ball, which gave Tech’s offensive linemen chances to either cut-block them or go by them and engage the linebackers."


ESPN could not have asked for a better game on a Thursday night. Some big things are swinging in Miami's favor for this game though. They have had 10 days off since FSU, while GT is playing in their 3rd game in 13 days. This could be big down the stretch. It is very tough to win back to back Thursday games, especially the second one on the road; VT lost at Miami in their second and in turn Miami lost at GT last year.

Harris looks much improved over last season and showed a confidence in the pocket we have not seen since Ken Dorsey was in Coral Gables. He has plenty of play makers to get the ball to under new OC Mark Whipple. Meanwhile, GT's offense is sputtering a little early in the season compared to late last year.

The line in this one made a big jump from MIA-4 to -5.5 this week which says a lot of people are betting the Hurricanes. I said during the pre season that this would be a tough game for GT to win and that was before how good Miami look vs FSU. I like Miami for the win but I will head the other way on the spread with GT covering in a offensive showcase full of big plays.

Miami 31 Georgia Tech 27
Ga Tech Covers -5.5

Last Week: 1-1 ATS, 2-0 SU
Season: 2-3 ATS, 3-2 SU


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