As Tech enters the toughest stretch of the season, the team is at a bit of a crossroads. A team that was steamrolling opponents and scoring nearly 50 points per game, completing over 60% of its passes and playing overall average defense has regressed into a team that has scored 21 points each of the past 2 weeks, have completed 30% of their passes, and are giving up huge running averages to opponents. If the Jackets can’t get back to near where they were earlier this season, things could start to fall apart real quick.
Miami is always a challenge, and I fully expect the Canes to get their yards running the ball against the Jackets, but what Tech has to excel at today is keeping the pass game in check. Jacory Harris is having a remarkable stretch right now and if GT lets Miami play balanced football, I fear this game could turn ugly. Tech has been getting gashed week in and week out by ACC backs, giving up over 250 last week to Virginia. Forcing Miami into predictable situations can help at least slow down the run game.
On Tech’s side, I hope to see more creativity on offense – Miami is not good against the run this year, and GT needs to use a lot of misdirection to break some big plays to take advantage of Miami’s overall ineptitude against the run & hopefully break a few big plays in the process. While there is no excuse for a lot of the dropped passes that GT A-backs and WRs have had recently, Tevin Washington also needs to stop just chunking the ball up and allowing teams to pick the ball off. Tech’s defense is average as it is and allowing teams extra possessions only makes matters worse. If the Jackets can keep Miami off balance and control the clock, that should give their defense enough to hold on to win this one.
Most experts are picking this game to be close, but I get the feeling that one team is going to lay an egg this week. Based on Paul Johnson’s statements this week, they’ve had some good practices and this team seems to play like it practices. Tech should be able to milk the clock – that’s a given. However, they’re also going to need to get back to their big-play ways, getting some quick game changing scores to put more pressure on Miami to get away from their running game.
I can see this being a back and forth affair until one team pulls away in the 3rd/4th quarter and wins by about 14-17 points. This game means a lot of both teams but I think GT out coaches Miami and gets a huge win on the road, setting up a titanic showdown with Clemson next week. Further, it means that Tech ‘simply’ needs to be VT and Duke and they’re in the ACC title game.
Tech wins, 38-24.