Can Georgia Tech take control early?
In losing the past three games to Miami, the Yellow Jackets have had first-half deficits of 17-3, 14-0 and 14-0, trouble for a team that doesn’t play its best from behind. A repeat of that scenario may not doom the Jackets, but it may signal to them and the Hurricanes that history may be repeating itself. Coach Paul Johnson has a knack for breaking big plays early, such as the 70-yard touchdown pass to B-back Zach Laskey on the Jackets’ first play from scrimmage last week. A repeat might encourage another frenzy.
What will the Tech defense throw at the Hurricanes?
Defensive coordinator Al Groh is wary of the damage that Miami true freshman running back Duke Johnson, one of the highest-rated prospects at his position last year, can cause to his unit. He’s averaging 9.2 yards per carry and has scored six of Miami’s 11 touchdowns this season. Wide receiver Allen Hurns, who sat out the Hurricanes’ win over Bethune-Cookman last Saturday with a concussion, is a playmaking threat. Tech’s improved defense will face its toughest test thus far.
How many yards will be the B-backs have at game’s end?
If B-backs Zach Laskey or David Sims pile up yards, the prognosis will be good for the Jackets. If they’re not, it probably means that the offensive line is getting backed up, which means the option plays aren’t working, which means a boatload of trouble for Tech. But if center Jay Finch and guards Omoregie Uzzi and Shaquille Mason move Miami off the line of scrimmage for dive plays for the B-backs, the game will swing in Tech’s favor.
A win for Georgia Tech would …
End its three-game losing streak to the Hurricanes and move the Jackets ahead of Miami in the Coastal Division standings.
A win for Miami would …
Go far to shut the door on Tech’s hopes of winning the ACC championships.
Matchup to watch
Georgia Tech wide receiver Darren Waller vs. Miami cornerback Thomas Finnie
At 6-foot-5 and 228 pounds, Waller has seven inches and 43 pounds on Finnie and a matchup that physically he should be able to exploit, both downfield and as a run blocker. Still looking for his first career catch, Waller will have plenty of playing time along with Jeff Greene. The depth chart is thinner after starter Jeremy Moore left the team Tuesday for personal reasons.
The history book
Series record: Georgia Tech leads 10-7
Last meeting: With two costly turnovers in the first half, Tech fell behind 14-0 in the first half and lost 24-7 last October at Sun Life Stadium. The Jackets defense played strong, but did not get much help from an offense that generated 134 rushing yards.