Georgia Tech (3-1) at #14 Miami (FL) (4-0)
Miami begins its conference play Saturday at home against Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech Players to Watch
Defensive End Jeremiah Attaochu 6’3” 240, Senior
The best player on the team, the well-built senior is a quick-twitch, fluid athlete with very good quickness. Attaochu has the bend, leverage, flexibility and speed to win with the outside rush and, even at his size, is a tough block in the run game. Georgia Tech will utilize him in versatile ways and on both sides of the line, standing him up as well as playing him as a traditional down lineman.
Cornerback Jemea Thomas 5’10” 195, Senior
Thomas is one of the best pure cover guys in the country, combining nice speed with smooth hips and long arms. He can both man up and stick to guys in press coverage as well as be an instinctive and physical zone defender. He has the versatility to play safety and could fit there well at the next level. Thomas is a playmaker as well with the ability to take advantage of bad decisions.
Miami Offense vs. Georgia Tech Defense
The strength of the Georgia Tech team is their defense. Led by their star seniors defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu and cornerback Jemea Thomas, as well as a really effective front seven overall, the Yellow Jackets flash the ability to be very stout. Sophomore defensive tackle Adam Gotsis has been productive as an interior penetrator. Sophomore middle linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days is a big and athletic talent at the center of the unit.
The Tech defense will show a 3-4 look in their base package and employs a lot of zone coverage. It also mixes in a variety of blitzes, especially on third down.
Miami, however, matches up very well. Hurricanes offensive tackles Ereck Flowers and Seantrel Henderson face a tough test against Attaochu. But, overall, Miami should have success especially in the pass game against a banged up Georgia Tech back seven. Stud linebacker Quayshawn Nealy has missed a bunch of time and starting safety Jamal Golden is out for the year due to a shoulder injury. Georgia Tech is thin in the back end and vulnerable to Miami’s deep set of pass catchers.
Georgia Tech Offense vs. Miami Defense
Georgia Tech brings its unique triple option attack to Miami, featuring sophomore quarterback Vad Lee, senior backs David Sims and Robert Godhigh, and a few other guys who rotate in. Their offense utilizes decisiveness and a variety of tosses, dives and options to primarily move the ball on the ground. It’s a ball control offense focused on running the ball and then eventually catching defenses in compromised situations in coverage.
The offensive line is predicated on quickness and leverage, sacrificing power and bulk. It is vulnerable to a stout defensive line like Miami’s, especially on the interior where Georgia Tech will see a large and deep cast of players. But the offense puts a lot of pressure on defenders to remain disciplined. Defensive ends must have contain on the edge.
Cornerback run support and tackling can help, but if they pay too much attention to the run game, Georgia Tech has shown the propensity to throw the ball, taking advantage of both Vad Lee’s natural passing ability as well as simple coverage on their big receivers. 6’3” 220-pound junior receiver DeAndre Smelter and 6’5” 235-pound junior Darren Waller are always a mismatch one-on-one on the outside and downfield. The Miami defense must respect their ability to make plays.
Vad Lee is one of the better pure passers head coach Paul Johnson has enjoyed. But he hasn’t been so effective on the ground when he keeps the ball on options. Versus the triple option, Miami would be well suited to take away the dives and the pitch guys, forcing Lee to carry the ball, simultaneously taking advantage of a less effective rusher as well as getting big hits on him over the course of the game.
Ultimately, Miami has been one of the best defenses in the country. Last Thursday, Virginia Tech went on the road and beat Georgia Tech, holding them to 10 points. The key will be holding Georgia Tech to third and long, forcing Georgia Tech to go to the air without the aid of the run threat. Further, if Miami puts points on the board, Georgia Tech would be ill-equipped to make a comeback down the stretch.