The Miami Hurricanes will play the Jackets this Saturday in Coral Gables, Fla., coming off of a win against North Carolina the previous week. With the win, the Hurricanes picked up their first road win of the 2011 season. Senior quarterback Jacory Harris threw for 267 yards to give the Hurricanes the 30-24 victory over UNC. If the Hurricanes want to earn their second conference win against the Jackets, they will have to address three things.
First, Miami will need to generate its running game if it wants to compete with Tech’s option offense. This means that redshirt sophomore running back Lamar Miller will need to get more involved throughout the game. Miller has amassed 110 carries, 706 yards, and 5 touchdowns for the season, but Miller’s effort against North Carolina will not contribute to the Hurricanes’ success. Miller struggled against the Tar Heels gaining only 29 yards on 16 carries, a performance that could be costly against a tough and experienced Jacket defensive line. He will have to penetrate and wear down a tough Tech defense if the Hurricanes want to see a win out of this important ACC Coastal matchup.
Second, Harris will need to be just as efficient as he has been against the Hokies and the Tar Heels. He completed 20 of 30 attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns last week against UNC, but more importantly has not thrown an interception in two conference outings. Miami has struggled to put together a complete game, usually starting strong in the first half, or closing the game strong after a bad first half. The Hurricanes will have to play four solid quarters against the Jackets because Tech is known for its halftime adjustments. Starting strong and closing out will lead to a favorable game for the Hurricanes.
Third, the defense will have to be able to play assignment football to control the Jackets’ option offense. The Jackets are currently second in the nation in rushing yards per game with 347.9 yards on the ground per game. The Jackets run oriented offense can create long drives, wearing on opposing defenses. The Miami defense will have to be able to contain redshirt junior quarterback Tevin Washington, the Jackets’ running game, and avoid falling into the trap of the deep play-action pass.
In this upcoming weekend, Tech heads into its third ACC road game trying to avoid another loss after last week’s matchup against Virginia. The Jackets did not generate the offensive game that it is known for, only completing two passes and amassing 296 yards of total offense, Tech will have to recuperate from their disappointing 21-24 loss and maintain its intensity between the pylons and goal posts. The Jackets will need to accomplish the following in order to bounce back from last week’s upset loss.
First, the Jackets’ defense will need to contain the ACC’s second leading rusher, Miller. He is threat for the Hurricanes, showing his athleticism and skill elsewhere other than in rushes. Miller had a high of 184 yards on the ground against Ohio State, but Miller has proved effective in kickoff returns with 2 returns for 42 yards. He also has been effective receiving; making 9 catches for 35 yards and one touchdown. Tech’s defense will have to be able to make pivotal tackles and find holes to get to Miller quicker.
Second, Tech’s defense will have to put pressure on Harris. On the season, he has 62 completions for 837 yards and nine touchdowns. Harris also has three interceptions for the season, and Tech will have to bring force to make Harris unbalanced, resulting in turnovers for the Jackets’ secondary. Miami’s junior wide receiver Tommy Streeter has 18 receptions for 332 yards and five touchdowns on the season as one of Harris’ primary targets. As another weapon for the Hurricanes, senior wide receiver Travis Benjamin has 24 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Tech will have to shutdown both of these threats if a victory is the goal.
Finally, the Jackets will need to generate its own offense. In last week’s game against the Cavaliers, Tech had 296 yards of total offense while allowing 407 yards by the Cavaliers. Washington only completed two of eight pass attempts for 24 yards and two interceptions in last week’s game. Though Washington had two of Tech’s touchdowns, no other Jackets scored on offense. The offense needs to get production, and multiple Jackets need to score if Tech wants a conference victory this Saturday.