Keys to the Game

The Hurricanes (7-3) and set to take on Georgia Tech (7-3) in a very important ACC Conference game tonight at 7:30. The writers of offer their thoughts on some of the major keys to tonight's game.

1) Stay Home
Georgia Tech is going to do something on offense that the Hurricanes are not used to seeing. Coach Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets will be running the triple option offense Thursday night. For Miami, this means several things. First, it means the Tech offense will be difficult to decipher as there are so many possibilities for the Jackets to run. Second, it means the Canes will have to stay home and play assignment football in order to keep the Yellow Jackets' ground game in check. Players must stick to their assignments and not over pursue plays. If Miami gets caught out of position too many times, Georgia Tech will likely dominate this game. If the Hurricanes can sick to their assignments and play smart football, their defense should be able to limit Georgia Tech offensively.

2) Finish off drives
With Georgia Tech employing such a run-heavy offense, they will probably run the clock down a lot. This will put added pressure on the Canes to score whenever they have the ball as their opponent will be chewing up clock throughout the game. Miami has to come away with points on most of their drives. Field goals are good but touchdowns are better as it will put Tech in a deeper hole that may force them to get away from their comfort zone and have to throw the ball. It is important for the Hurricanes to score early and often. Georgia Tech's offensive system is not the best in regards to coming back from large deficits so it is imperative that Miami get out to an early lead and does not hold back until the clock hits zero.

1) The Canes must establish their passing game
Miami has struggled in recent years vs. the Yellow Jackets. Georgia tech has given UM's offensive lines fits throughout the last few years and have dominated the Canes at times. The good news for Miami fans is this is a much different Canes team. Getting Robert Marve or Jacory Harris on track early in the game will be critical for Miami. In order for this to happen Miami's receivers need to avoid dropping the ball, which was a problem that plagued Miami throughout the Virginia Tech. If Aldarius Johnson, Travis Benjamin, and the other young play makers can open things up early and give Miami an early lead it will put Georgia Tech in a tough spot as their offense is not built to come from behind.

2) Miami must dare Georgia Tech to beat them by throwing the ball
Paul Johnson's squad success is based on its triple option attack led by quarterback Josh Nesbitt. If the Canes con control the Yellow Jacket's running game and force Nesbitt to beat Miami through the air it should be a very successful day for Bill Young's defense. Expect the Canes to attack the LOS and apply a very aggressive game plan on Saturday night. If Miami's defensive line can continue their stellar play it will go a long way to ensuring Miami consecutive Thursday night wins.

1) Establish an inside running game
Georgia Tech has one of the nation's top defensive units and they can really get after opposing quarterbacks. The more Miami's able to run the ball early on, the less it'll have to drop back and throw against a very tough defense in a loud environment. Plus, running the ball effectively will keep Georgia Tech's offense off the field. Javarris James is Miami's best inside runner so the Canes will need a strong day from him, in addition to Graig Cooper. If the Canes can't get the running game going and become one-dimensional against Georgia Tech, it could turn into a very long night. The teams who have beaten Tech this year were able to run the ball effectively, which limits the opportunities their talented defensive linemen will get.

2) Create turnovers
Even Randy Shannon said earlier in the week, Georgia Tech will get its yards on the ground against just about anyone. The biggest key to defending the triple option is playing assignment football. That'll be key but the Canes will likely need to create some turnovers if it wants to win on the road tonight. It'll be cold, loud, and against a very good defense so the offense will have its hands full. Giving them some breaks and shorter fields will be huge in this game and that will happen if the defense is able to force a few turnovers.

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