In a game that was much closer than its 45-30 final score indicated, the Miami Hurricanes outlasted the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Sun Life Stadium. The game was 31-23 'Canes with under two minutes to play before several scores widened the margin and raised the point total.
In the end, by surviving this ball game, Miami has set itself up to be a player both in the ACC, and nationally, provided quarterback Stephen Morris can get healthy during the bye week.
The Hurricanes have an ample supply of playmakers, starting with Duke Johnson on the ground, who piled up 184 yards against Georgia Tech in his first big game against a legitimate opponent this year. Through the air, the 'Canes have a myriad of talented receivers, including freshman Stacy Coley, who is starting to catch on.
All of the skill positions can play, they just need someone to get them the football. On a bad wheel, Morris was able to go 17-for-22, putting up 324 yards and three touchdowns. Not a bad stat-line, but the quarterback also threw two interceptions, both as a result of his ankle injury.
In the first interception Morris leaves the ball high, unable to transfer the weight from the injured back leg to the front foot in order to aid in snapping the throw off. The result is a ball that sails, allowing the Tech defender to make an easy interception.
With the second interception, Morris' inability to move in the face of pressure, or adjust to throw, led to him tossing the ball directly into the waiting linebacker's arms. Morris' mobility was down, and as the play-action fake went through, the quarterback was unable to transition quickly into hitting the receiver in the area before he reached the linebacker's coverage zone.
For Miami, neither interception was the deathblow for the team. The Hurricanes survived a game that saw two Morris picks and a Duke Johnson fumble, emerging victorious and looking to the bye week to get things ironed out. In the case of Morris, that means treatment on the ankle and getting back to 100 percent.
Miami has seven games remaining, two of which are against rival Florida State, and chief Coastal Division foe, Virginia Tech. The Seminoles and Hokies are a combined 10-1 on the year and will present a legitimate challenge for Golden's team, especially on the road in Tallahassee against FSU's freshman sensation, Jameis Winston.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Hurricanes' schedule boasts a 12-13 record and flawed teams galore. Seven games left, and five of them will find the 'Canes favored. Take care of business in those and Miami is looking at a possible BCS trip.
Yet, for Miami to take care of business, the most critical piece of the puzzle is Morris' ankle. While the 'Canes can likely win five of the next seven with a hobbled Morris, as they did today, the goal is to become a true national player, and that means beating Florida State and Virginia Tech.
To win both, or either, of those games, Morris has to be able to use all of his skills. That means rolling out of the pocket. It means evading the rush. It means stepping into his throws. It means working from under center.
All things that Morris could not do against Georgia Tech.
For this Miami team, as the defense comes together, the sky is truly the limit as far as record goes. They have winnable games remaining, and will need stellar quarterback play to top Florida State and the Hokies. Get Morris healthy during the bye week and the 'Canes should continue to climb in the polls.