Opponent Preview: Georgia Tech

Coming off a devastating road loss to UNC, Miami hosts Ga Tech on Saturday in a pivotal ACC match-up.

Miami and Georgia Tech's last two meetings have been decided by a total of 11 points. However, the Canes have found themselves on the wrong side of the past two meetings against the Yellow Jackets. With both Virginia and Virginia Tech sitting undefeated in conference play, Saturday's match-up is huge for the Canes if they hope to keep their ACC title hopes alive.

Led by head Coach Chan Gailey, the Yellow Jackets are currently 3-3 on the season. Defense has not the problem in 2007 for Georgia Tech, as defensive coordinator John Tenuta has cranked out yet another stellar unit. Tenuta's defense ranks 16th in the country overall, and 6th against the run.

Anchoring the defensive line that has shut down the run so well for Georgia Tech is Vance Walker. The 6'2, 275 pound defensive tackle was not expected to start this season, but the sophomore has exploded onto the scene in a big way. Although he's undersized, his quickness allows him to shed blockers and get pressure on in the backfield. Walker leads Tech in sacks with 5.5 to go with 23 tackles. Defensive end Adamm Oliver is an athletic pass rusher at his size – 270. The defensive end has registered 22 tackles and 1 sack this season. Senior Darrell Robertson handles the other end position. At 6'5, 245 pounds, Robertson is a pass rushing specialists. He's recorded 3.5 sacks this season to go along with 18 tackles.

The linebackers for Georgia Tech are an athletic group, highlighted by middle linebacker Phillip Wheeler. The senior and Georgia native checks in at 6'2 230 pounds, and is an athletic player who hits hard and loves contact. He routinely finds himself breaking up plays in the backfield thanks to Tech's blitz-happy defensive scheme. Wheeler is tied for the team lead in tackles with 37, and second on the team with 4.5 sacks. Flanking him is redshirt freshman Anthony Barnes. A former safety in high school, Barnes is a physical freak that is learning the line backing position. At 6'3 235, he has ideal size to go along with great speed. He's made 17 stops this season. Opposite him his Gary Guyton, another big backer at 6'3 240, the senior is second on the team in tackles with 34.

While Tech's front seven is extremely impressive, loaded with athletic players that love to hit, behind them is an abnormally shaky secondary which ranks 71st in the country in pass defense. Jahi Word-Daniels and Avery Roberson lock down the cornerback positions for the Yellow Jackets defense. Roberson, a senior from Atlanta, brings great size to the position after switching from safety this offseason. At 6'2, 200 pounds, he brings a physicality to the secondary. At the other side is Word-Daniels, a junior who broke up 13 passes last season and is now Tech's number 1 corner.

The safeties are led by Jamal Lewis. Lewis, who was named to the All-ACC team last season, is already off to another fast start - he is tied for the team lead with tackles with 37. The 6'0 200 pound senior has learned the position well after moving from safety, and is a big time hitter for the Jackets. Next to him is Djay Jones, another senior with almost identical measurables. The speedy Jones has 22 tackles this year.

On the offensive side of the ball, it's becoming apparent that Tech is missing not only Calvin Johnson, but also Reggie Ball. After an impressive 325 yard, 3 touchdown outing against West Virginia in their bowl game, Georgia Tech fans had high hopes for quarter back Taylor Bennett. However, fans have been disappointed this season as Bennett has only tossed for 2 touchdowns in 6 games. Calling the shots for the Tech offense is coordinator John Bond, who was hired as the replacement when Patrick Nix took the same position with Miami. After 6 games, Bond's offense ranks 23rd in the country in rushing, with 199 yards a game, and 52nd in points, averaging 29 points per outing.

Heading the ground attack is ACC standout Tashard Choice. Choice is a bigger back that is tough to bring down, and often wears on a defense over the course of the game. He's pounded out 636 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground this season. Though still productive, Choice has been hampered by a nagging hamstring injury this season, and Jonathan Dwyer has impressed when he's seen carries. Dwyer, who is a big play waiting to happen, has rushed for 261 yards and 6 touchdowns on just 41 carries this season. He's a blazer with the ability to go for 6 from anywhere on the field.

The offensive line is depleted with injuries, but they're still talented. Left tackle Andrew Gardner leads the charge for the Tech line. The 6'6 300 pounder is great in pass protection and even better against the run. He's extremely athletic and is a mauler on running plays. Senior Matt Rhodes handles the left guard spot. The 6'3 280 pounder is a solid lineman for Tech's offense, and he brings experience to the unit. At center is Kevin Tuminello, a 6'4 292 pound senior who excels in the run game. Sophomore Trey Dunmon, who started out at center, handles the right guard duties on the line. He's a 6'4 305 pound player with talent that is still learning the guard position. Junior and Tampa native A.J. Smith starts at right tackle. The 6'7 300 pound career reserve has found a spot on the line, and his size make him a solid pass protector for the Jackets.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas aims to tackle the unenviable task of filling the shoes of Calvin Johnson. The redshirt freshman seems to be up to the task, however. At 6'3, 220 pounds, Thomas has amazing size for his position. He is plenty fast enough and his athleticism has already drawn comparisons to Johnson from Tech fans. Thomas leads the team with both yards, 314, and touchdowns, 2. On the other side is Greg Smith, who at 6'3 195 pounds serves as the speedy receiver for the Yellow Jackets offense. Third on the team with receiving yards is Colin Peek, a tight end who at 6'6 250 pounds gives Georgia Tech both a great block and a big target.

On Saturday, Miami will face a team they came so close to beating in their last two match-ups. Following a disappointing road loss to North Carolina, Miami desperately needs to win if they expect to stay in the ACC race. However, Tenuta's defenses have often given Miami, especially Kyle Wright, loads of trouble. It will be up to the Canes offensive line to give Wright time, and former Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Patrick Nix to figure out the defenses he once saw every day in practice.


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