The Yellow Jackets are coming off of their second bye week of the 2017 campaign. Their first “bye” was when their game at UCF was canceled so the National Guard could use Spectrum Stadium as their base of operations after Hurricane Irma. When asked about coming off of a bye week, Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson said, “During the bye week, we worked extensively on special teams – some one-minute defense and some redzone offense, just to mention a few things. Hopefully, we get better at it. We’ll find out Saturday.”
This weekend’s matchup in South Florida is a battle over first place in the ACC Coastal division with Georgia Tech’s record at 3-1 (2-0 in the ACC) and Miami’s record at 4-0 (2-0 in the ACC). As of now both teams are tied atop the Coastal division and undefeated in conference play. Both the Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes are just a half game over Virginia who is only 1-0 in conference play
The Yellow Jackets are one of four teams in college football and the only team in the ACC that rank in the country’s top 20 in both total defense, where they are ranked sixth, and total offense, where they are ranked 20th. Georgia Tech’s top-10 defensive ranking can be credited in large part to forcing three-and-outs on 53% of their defensive series this season. The only other team in Division I football to force three-and-outs on at least half of their defensive series is Michigan at 58%. If the Yellow Jackets wish to win they will need their high-powered defense to continue their trend of forcing teams off the field in three downs against the exciting Miami offense.
Offensively, the Jackets rank among the top 10 in the country in eight different statistical categories along with rushing where they are ranked second and passing efficiency at fifth. With this being said Georgia Tech will look to dominate Miami’s front seven in order to run the ball effectively. Paul Johnson had this to say about Miami’s front seven, “They’re big and fast and explosive. They create a lot of negative plays and a lot of turnovers. Their three linebackers, probably as a group, are as good or better than anybody else in the league.”
Saturday’s contest will be the Yellow Jackets first big test of the 2017 campaign due to playing weaker teams such as Tennessee, Jacksonville State, and Pittsburgh. Coach Johnson touched base on playing a tough opponent like the Canes and said, “Yeah, we’ll know a lot more on Saturday night. But. Then again, you’re not going to put everything – your evaluation – on one game either, so it’s a process. But certainly, Saturday will tell us a lot more about it.”
Not only will Paul Johnson have a better idea on where his team stands, the Miami coaching staff will know more about their squad of players and what they are capable of on Saturday night. With all being said it will be an intriguing matchup Saturday to see who will be the premier team in the ACC Coastal division. So tune in because it is sure to be a very entertaining game between two strong teams!