Full Analysis: Ga Tech Game

Miami defeated Georgia Tech 35-21 on Saturday. Read on for a full game analysis from CanesTime's Mike Bakas.

* First thing's first -- anytime you can win by double digits on the road inside the conference against a team that will likely play in a bowl game at the end of the season, it needs to be considered a good win. That's what this game was. Miami did not dominate. They certainly could have played better. However, the bottom line is they went on the road and took care of business against a solid team. To put that into perspective, that only happened twice in the previous five seasons (beat Pittsburgh by 10 in 2013 and Virginia Tech by 24 in 2014). 

* The thing that concerned me the most going into this game was Georgia Tech's ability to control the clock, run a strangely high number of plays, and wear an already thin Miami defense out in the second half. Up until the turnovers, that's exactly what was happening. Georgia Tech's offense was eating up lots of clock and seemed poise to try getting Miami to tire out late in the game. That's what turnovers -- especially when they result in quick touchdowns -- can do to a game. Those were obviously the two biggest plays of the game. They completely changed the outcome of a game that was otherwise played by two pretty evenly matched football teams on Saturday. 

* Speaking of turnovers, I remember Manny Diaz saying that his main goal going into every game is to create more turnovers than touchdowns allowed. They created three and allowed three so he didn't match that goal in this game but I thought they did a nice job. The turnovers played a big role in preventing Georgia Tech from running for over 300 yards like they regularly did against Miami under the previous regime. Limiting Tech's offense to 5-of-16 on money downs was key but they will have to improve in the redzone, as the Jackets scored touchdowns on all three of their redzone possessions. 

* Brad Kaaya was very efficient again. After a sluggish start in his first two games this season, he's played really well in the last two. His Total QBR (per ESPN) in this game was 91.7. They use several factors in that formula and he had a solid game, finishing just outside the top 10 nationally this week. He threw just 19 passes and one touchdown but that was thanks to Miami's offense being limited to just 46 offensive plays in this game. If Kaaya plays this well all season, the Canes will have a good chance to win every game they play.

* I was curious going into the game what the breakdown of carries at running back would look like in this game, especially considering it was going to be the team's first big challenge going up against a solid defense. The answer? Mark Walton 15, Joe Yearby 9, and Gus Edwards 2. That's about what I expected, so I'd imagine this will be pretty standard each week moving forward. It's disappointing that Edwards hasn't emerged as a legitimate short-yardage threat and you'd like to see Walton's longest play go for more than 14 yards on 17 total touches but he continues to stay ahead of Yearby on the depth chart. It seems like Travis Homer, while having a bright future, will not see the field in close games that matter. 

* A concern coming into the season was Miami's lack of proven playmakers at wide receiver. After four games, and again in this game, that's starting to become a concern. Stacy Coley did his thing and will continue to, even when teams try to play bracket coverage on him. Ahmmon Richards has done a nice job becoming the team's legit No. 2 receiver but I've said the same thing for five weeks now -- someone else has to emerge as a threat. Dayall Harris went without a catch in this game. He's not getting open and posing a threat to opposing defenses. Braxton Berrios had one catch and simply isn't creating separation or making plays in the passing game. Darrell Langham continues to be a total non-factor. I'm not a huge Lawrence Cager fan because I think he's closer to Harris than Richards or Coley but he'd likely be the third receiver right now. Sam Bruce's injury is also showing up now because he's talented enough to be the No. 2 right now. 

* The good thing about Miami's lack of proven playmakers at receiver is how good their tight ends are. Stan Dobard will likely never be a factor in the passing game against good defenses (he had zero catches in this game) and David Njoku is a solid second tight end who will make some things happen but Chris Herndon continues playing like the best tight end of the group. He's good, and I wasn't surprised to see him with 59 more yards in this game. 

* Kaaya dropped back to throw 20 times in this game and wasn't sacked. In fact, there was very little pressure. Part of that is the design of the game plan and part of it is how quickly Kaaya gets the ball out but some of the credit has to go to Miami's offensive line. They're still struggling to establish a certain level of physicality at the line of scrimmage in the running game but they're doing a very good job in pass pro. Because the starting unit was in until the end, it's still unclear which of the backups are the closest to challenging for a starting spot. 

* I was surprised that Georgia Tech, in a game in which they averaged 4.9 yards per carry, dropped back to throw the ball 23 times. It was encouraging to see Miami's defense play as well as they did on those 23 plays. They registered four sacks, caused a fumble, scored a touchdown, intercepted a pass, and broke up five others. Tech's longest completion went for just 14 yards. They completely disrupted the Yellow Jacket passing offense in this game. 

* Trent Harris played the best game along the front four. His quickness and athleticism was simply too much for Tech's offensive line to handle. That's a big reason why he finished with seven tackles, three for loss, a sack, and a caused fumble that led to Miami's first defensive touchdown. 

* Stats are often overrated, especially on defense, and Diaz mentioned last week that often times the guy who gets credit for the tackle often isn't the one making the best play. I'd have to go back and grade the film to get a closer look and Shaq Quarterman showed up in the stats but I continue to believe that Mike Pinckney is Miami's best freshman defender. I talked to a former UM coach who actually started recruiting Pinckney and he told me that Mike's a great kid and intensely competitive so his early success isn't a surprise. He has a nose for the football.

* GT wasn't going to threaten UM's secondary much in the passing game in this game but it was good to see Adrian Colbert return to the field after missing some time due to injury. He and Sheldrick Redwine are competing for that second cornerback spot. One of the problems I see with Florida State's offense this year is they lack proven playmakers on the perimeter but having Colbert back and healthy for that game will be huge for the Canes.

* Speaking of the secondary, I thought Jamal Carter played really well. He is used as a strong safety and could even drop down and play linebacker at times. He has that physical presence about him so the fact that he was around the ball and cracking heads as often as he was in this game is not a surprise. 

* Bring on Florida State!!

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