Their quarterback has a lot of experience and has been very productive running their offense. However, for whatever reason, he's played two of his worst games against Miami. Randy Shannon's defense did a solid job of slowing him down in 2010. Then last year Mark D'Onofrio designed a plan to really shut him down. The Miami game was arguably his worst all season in 2011. That unit, however, featured guys like Sean Spence -- a very smart player (even more important in a game like this) and someone who could make plays all over the field. The closest thing UM has to that this year is Denzel Perryman and losing him really hurts here. Washington should have a much improved game over his last two.
The way Kansas State lined up and ran right at Miami while the Canes knew what was coming doesn't bode well for this game. Orwin Smith is a better running back than any of K-State's guys and Zach Laskey is a nice complement. Without Perryman, Curtis Porter, and Buchanan, life will be a lot tougher trying to slow these guys down. Smith averaging almost 10 yards per carry in his career and should have a big day against a young and banged up Miami defense. Laskey might not be too far behind.
Tech's receivers don't scare you too much. Damaryus Thomas was a major threat in 2010 but since he left production has fallen way off. The current group is very big and physical but the two top guys have a combined 2 career catches against Division 1 opponents. If they're able to have big days, or even solid ones, against Miami's corners, it'd be something they've never done before. It's possible but not likely.
The offensive line is very good. The right guard, Uzzi, will be one of the best Miami sees all season. He pushes pretty much everyone around and should do a lot of the same against Miami's front on Saturday. The starting five averages 17 starts per man and they're about 300 pounds per guy so it's a big, strong, and experienced group. Miami hasn't had a pass rush this season and that likely wont change in this game. Guys like Chickillo and Shayon Green are better against the run and it'll be interesting to see if they can hold up in this one against such a veteran group.
The defensive front is huge. If Miami can't block the nose, T.J. Barnes, with just one guy then forget about it. Either way, it's going to be very tough running right at them, which will likely prevent Mike James from having a strong day. Virginia Tech ran it 35 times for under 100 yards and their whole offense is designed to run right at people. Duke Johnson has more speed and explosiveness than anyone Tech's defense has seen so far this young season he the Canes should hope he breaks a few big runs like he did against BC.
The linebackers are solid. Jeremiah Attouchu is a beast. He's, by far, their best pass rusher. He'd be a tremendous speed rusher in a 4-3 alignment. Miami's young tackles will have their hands full with him. The next best guy, Quayshawn Nealy, is from Florida and wasn't recruited by any of the Big 3. He's a solid player but he's still young and isn't a premier level talent.
They make a lot of plays in the secondary. The four starters have 12 career picks. Rod Sweeting is the boundary corner who does a good job of taking away opposing receivers. If Allen Hurns is healthy, that might be the best matchup of the day. Isaiah Johnson is an elite player at safety. He makes it very tough to throw down the field on them and Miami's been terrible at that this season so don't expect many big plays down the field.
If the Canes are to generate much offense in this game, I believe Johnson will have to break a few big runs, Hurns will have to win his one-on-one matchups, and the young tackles will have to keep Attouchu in check. If they can, they should score some points. If not, it'll be another long day for the offense.
On defense, it all boils down to stopping the run. Washington's never been good against Miami and isn't close to what Collin Klein was running it. They don't have the necessary playmakers outside. They do, however, have a very good O-Line, a great system, and quality running backs. GT should be able to eat up a lot of clock, keep the ball away from the Canes, and score a good amount of points.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Miami 20