MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – The 11th ranked Miami Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0 ACC) will look to stay unbeaten when they host ACC Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech (3–1, 2-0 ACC).
First place in the Coastal will be on the line.
Miami junior Malik Rosier is the first Hurricanes quarterback to begin his career 5-0 as a starter since Brock Berlin did it in 2003. He’s thrown 11 touchdown passes to just 3 interceptions, ranking 5th in the ACC in both pass efficiency (148.1) and in total offense at 300.0 yards per game.
Rosier’s favorite target, senior receiver Braxton Berrios, has caught 5 touchdown passes this season. He caught a pair of touchdowns against FSU and was named ACC receiver of the week.
Berrios is the first Hurricane to catch a touchdown in each of a season’s first four games since Reggie Wayne did it in 2000.
Miami has enjoyed nearly a decade of dominance over Georgia Tech, winning eight of the past nine matchups overall, and four straight at home. UM Head Coach Mark Richt is 14-2 all-time against the Yellow Jackets.
Emotionally, the Hurricanes are riding high after ending their seven year losing streak to Florida State. But physically, Miami is hurting.
In their thrilling 24-20 win at FSU on October 7th, the Canes lost star running back Mark Walton to a season ending ankle injury. Backup Travis Homer, who averages an impressive 8.3 yards per carry, will take over the starting role.
Miami will also be without three more starters on Saturday with right guard Navaughn Donaldson (lower extremity), cornerback Dee Delaney (lower extremity) and safety Sheldrick Redwine (upper extremity) listed ‘out’ on the injury report.
Redshirt freshman Corey Gaynor will step in for Donaldson at right guard, while cornerback Trajan Bandy and safety Robert Knowles should see extended time in the defensive backfield.
Defensively, Miami’s front seven will be challenged. Georgia Tech ranks 2nd in the nation in rushing at 396 yards per game.
The Yellow Jackets, under head coach Paul Johnson, run a triple-option offense that power five opponents rarely see.
Quarterback TaQuon Marshall leads the team in both rushing (523 yards) and passing (333 yards.) He’s scored 13 total touchdowns.
Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt discussed the challenges of preparing for Georgia Tech’s unique attack.
“This week more than any, it’s the hardest thing to simulate at the speed in which it’s going to be done and the skill level at which it’s going to be done,” Richt said. “It’s the hardest thing…you don’t play this defense very often. You play it once a year. You’re trying to figure out the speed of it in the middle of the first quarter and you hope to get it down as fast as you can.”
Miami’s starting linebackers: Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, and Zach McCloud, all performed well against Tech in 2016 as freshmen. Quarterman and defensive end Joe Jackson both scored touchdowns on fumble recoveries in last year’s meeting. Georgia Tech leads the ACC with 8 fumbles lost so far in 2017.
Miami ranks 17th in the country in scoring defense, allowing a mere 17.3 points per game. Aggression continues to be a trademark of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s group. They’ve sacked opposing quarterbacks 15 times in four games and recorded four interceptions.
“Tackling is super important,” said Diaz, of the matchup with Georgia Tech. “Our secondary was outstanding tackling in that game a year ago, and will have to be again. There’s very little margin for error.”
The more errors the defense commits, the less time their offense will have to work with. Every second of possession is precious against the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech thrives in time of possession. They rank first in the nation at 36:39.
Defensively, they rank 6th in the country, allowing only 260 yards per game.
Kickoff for Miami-Georgia Tech is set for 3:30 PM on Saturday, October 14th from Hard Rock Stadium. You can listen to the game on 560 WQAM.