Behold the latest Georgia Tech opponent preview, the Miami Hurricanes. The Coastal Division rivals will meet at Bobby Dodd Stadium Oct. 4, with Tech coming off a bye week for the fifth game of the season. Tech will be trying to break a five-game losing streak to the Hurricanes. Today’s analysis is provided by my Cox Media Group colleague Matt Porter, who covers the Hurricanes for the Palm Beach Post. You can read his stuff here and follow him on Twitter here.
Q: How justified are the high expectations for Miami?
A: Depends on how high you’re talking, I guess. Even with an unproven quarterback, UM should have one of the top offenses in the ACC. There’s a slew of talented backs and wideouts. The offensive line will be large and for the most part experienced. Though the defense has been one of the conference’s worst for several seasons, it should be better this year. Then again, we’ve heard that before. Looking at the schedule and the talent on campus, this should team should win eight to 10 games.
Q: What are one or two of the biggest question marks?
A: Quarterback and defense, and those are not ones a team wants to have. Right now, no healthy UM quarterback has started a game for the Hurricanes. Only fifth-year senior transfer Jake Heaps has started a college game. Only redshirt sophomore Gray Crow, who threw six passes last year against FCS doormat Savannah State, has taken the field for UM. We’re about to learn a lot in camp. The defense returns middle linebacker Denzel Perryman and graduated several average-at-best players. Now, it’s a more talented defense – five-star defensive end Chad Thomas should make an impact — but it’s still very much a mystery how good it can be.
Q: What’s the latest you’ve heard on quarterback Ryan Williams and his return from an ACL tear in the spring? Who do you think will be the starting quarterback against Tech?
A: When UM visits Atlanta on Oct. 4, my guess is we’ll see Williams. His rehab is going well and he expects to return sometime in September. If he hits a snag, we might see Heaps, a former five-star recruit on his third college team; true freshman Brad Kaaya, whom coaches consider the most talented QB on campus; or redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, who was expected to back up Williams this fall but hasn’t impressed.
Q: After running back Duke Johnson, who are two or three of Miami’s biggest impact players?
A: Perryman was moved from weak-side to middle linebacker, which should allow him be more of a sideline-to-sideline force. He’s a natural inside guy at 6-foot, 245 pounds, and is certainly one of the hardest hitters in the ACC. The heart of UM’s defense … the Canes are lucky he returned for his senior season. They have a rising star in sophomore receiver Stacy Coley, who had 10 touchdowns last year (seven receptions, a kick return, a punt return and a rushing score). He’s a blur. Also, this could be a breakout year for junior cornerback Tracy Howard, a strong technician.
Q: What kind of season will keep fans happy?
A: It’s hard to find Mark D’Onofrio supporters in South Florida. Even coach Al Golden, entering his fourth season, is taking heat for his loyalty to his defensive coordinator. UM should be favored in all games except Florida State (home), Virginia Tech (road), Nebraska (road) and perhaps Louisville (road). If they can play average defense, the Canes could go 8-4, 9-3 or 10-2. Anything less will turn attention to Golden, rather than his assistant.
Tech opponent previews
Next up: Duke