Miami-Georgia Tech Preview: Will Freshman Quarterback Stephen Morris Bring It?

Danny DolphinAnalyst INovember 11, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson #85 of the Miami Hurricanes breaks away for a big gain against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Land Shark Stadium on September 17, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images


Kickoff: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, November 13, 2010

Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA

TV/Radio: WBFS (Miami), (National), WQAM 650

Records (ACC): Miami 6-3 (4-2), Georgia Tech 5-4 (3-3)

Line: Miami by three

Last Year: The Canes gave the Yellow Jackets a 33-17 beating in Miami with 453 yards of offense.

Miami Injuries:

•QB Jacory Harris (Out)

•TE Asante Cleveland (Questionable)

•RB Damien Berry (Probable)

Georgia Tech Injuries:

•QB Josh Nesbitt (Out)

•WR Jeremy Moore (Out)

When Miami has the ball…

Miami will play their second consecutive game without starting quarterback Jacory Harris, who is still recovering from a concussion. Freshman Stephen Morris has struggled with interceptions (four INTs in two games), but has come up with big plays as needed. He can beat you with his arm and his legs and has shown tremendous poise thus far.

Running back Damien Berry practiced on Wednesday and looks good to go. Backup Lamar Miller had 22 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown last week against Maryland. Both should get plenty of action, with reserve back Mike James also in the mix.

Tech hasn’t been great defensively, allowing 20-plus points in every ACC contest this season while giving up an average of 166 yards on the ground (82nd in the nation). Their pass defense ranks 21st in the nation.

Look for Miami to target Leonard Hankerson over the middle of the field. He is on the cusp of breaking the team record for touchdowns in a season. He has ten and is one away from breaking Michael Irvin's record of eleven. 

It would be smart to run right at them, allowing Morris to manage the game and take the occasional shot downfield. Getting quality yardage on the early downs will be critical because a freshman quarterback in third-and-long situations is a recipe for disaster.

When Tech has the ball…

It’s no secret that Georgia Tech is a running team. In fact, they run nearly five times as much as they pass. Everyone knows it’s coming in coach Paul Johnson’s triple option offensive attack. It’s a matter of whether the defense can slow it down.

Amazingly, they rushed for 346 yards last week against Virginia Tech and still lost. Two interceptions will account for that result.

The key in defending the triple option is discipline. It’s great to blow a play up in the backfield, but it’s more important that Miami defenders take good tackling angles. Each guy must fill his lane and make the tackle when the opportunity arises.

If the Miami defense doesn’t play smartly, this type of offense will run through, over and around them. Senior running back Anthony Allen (819 YDS) is the workhorse of the Yellow Jacket offense.

Tech isn’t much of a threat to throw the ball, especially with senior quarterback Josh Nesbitt out. Sophomore Tevin Washington replaced him last week against Virginia Tech and finished two-for-seven with an interception.

3 Keys

1. Tackling – Don’t go for the monster hit, just get the guy on the ground. Maintain discipline.

2. Turnover margin – Both teams are inexperienced at quarterback. Whichever quarterback does a better job of taking care of the football could be the deciding factor.

3. The running game – Miami’s running game has rolled of late, rushing for over 200 yards in three of the last four contests.


This is a game that Miami cannot afford to lose. They must not look ahead to the showdown with Virginia Tech next week. If they play smartly and get the running game going early this should be a win.

Miami 30 Georgia Tech 23

Note: To get in the ACC championship game, Miami would have to beat Georgia Tech on Saturday and Virginia Tech at home next week. Virginia Tech would also have to lose to either North Carolina (Saturday 3:30 PM ET, ESPN) or Virginia (November 27).


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