Miami's Golden wary of Georgia Tech's offense
Oct. 03, 2014
ATLANTA (AP) — Coach Al Golden says the Miami Hurricanes aren't taking anything for granted against Georgia Tech's spread option offense.
Miami has won five straight in the Atlantic Coast Conference series — the last three under Golden — but the coach believes Saturday's matchup presents new challenges.
Golden knows his defenders must be wary of cut blockers and stay on their feet when the Hurricanes (3-2, 1-1 ACC) visit Georgia Tech (4-0, 1-0). Otherwise, a playmaker like quarterback Justin Thomas could create problems.
"That in itself is a little bit unique," Golden said. "That's the challenge of playing Georgia Tech."
It hasn't been a problem recently for Miami, which has held the run-first Yellow Jackets 77 yards under their five-year average.
But the presence of Thomas, a sophomore who helped Georgia Tech rally past Virginia Tech two weeks ago, might change the dynamics.
Jackets coach Paul Johnson doesn't hesitate to say that Thomas has the best skills as a runner and passer that he's seen in seven years with the school.
"I think he enjoys doing what we do and whatever you want to run he's good with it, however you want to play," Johnson said. "He's got the quickness and as you saw last week, he's got the speed to turn in some big plays. He's pretty good when he gets down the sideline."
Miami senior linebacker Denzel Perryman, a first-team All-ACC selection in 2013, had no trouble stopping the Jackets and quarterback Vad Lee in last year's 45-30 victory in South Florida.
In his last 18 games, Perryman has 94 solo stops, nine tackles for minus yardage and five forced fumbles.
The Hurricanes' defense seems to have regained some swagger after giving up 343 yards rushing in a loss at Nebraska two weeks ago.
Beating Duke 22-10 at home last week, Miami held the Blue Devils to 85 yards rushing and allowed only two of 16 third-down chances.
Offensively, the Hurricanes hope to rekindle some of energy at Bobby Dodd Stadium, where they gouged Georgia Tech for 23 unanswered points in an overtime victory two years ago.
Junior running back Duke Johnson, a first-team All-ACC pick who's just the third Miami player with 4,000 career all-purpose yards, has recovered from a sore ankle earlier in the week.
Miami is still trying to decide on a starter at left guard after losing its top two right tackles to injuries last week.
Jonathan Feliciano has moved from left guard to right tackle. Nick Linder, Alex Gall and Hunter Wells are competing for the job at left guard.
"Whoever practices the best starts the game," Golden said. "Whoever plays the best finishes the game. We're going to look at that pretty intently."
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has passed for nine touchdowns in the last three games. The freshman is one of 11 quarterbacks in the nation with 1,200 yards passing and at least 12 TDs.
Georgia Tech's defense has looked outstanding at times, terrible at others. But after giving up 528 yards of total offense in a narrow home win over Georgia Southern, the Jackets made the plays necessary to hold off Virginia Tech.
Linebacker Paul Davis led the way with nine tackles and a 41-yard touchdown return on an interception.