Miami’s best start in nine years can be credited to improvement on both sides of the ball from a year ago. The Hurricanes have been potent on offense so far this season, outscoring opponents by 32.8 points per game while averaging 45.3 points per game, good for ninth best in the country. The biggest improvement from a year ago has been Miami’s defense, which is only surrendering 12.5 points per contest, which is seventh in the nation. Through four games last season? They were surrendering a horrid 32.5. Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio told the Miami Herald that the improvement on defense this season is due to the fact that there are more players stepping up and making plays this season as opposed to last year.
“No one guy is standing out,” said D’Onofrio. “You see 16 sacks, but you see  guys in on a sack. You see six interceptions, and five guys have interceptions. Seven caused fumbles, and seven guys caused the fumble. Seven guys recovered it. There’s a lot going on. You spread it around. That’s a sign guys are unselfish, trying to do their job in the defense.”
On the offensive side of the ball quarterback Stephen Morris has been fighting through an ankle injury that he suffered against Savannah State two weeks ago. Morris completed 11 of 16 passes for a season-high 222 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s 49-21 win at South Florida but had to leave the game early for a second straight week after aggravating the injury. Morris said this week that his ankle has improved and will be ready to go come kickoff Saturday. Despite Morris’s injury, the offense still managed to put up 540 yards of offense and convert 7 of 14 on third down against South Florida, one week after Miami put up 637 yards of offense and converted 6 of 9 on third down against Savannah State. That’s a huge improvement from the first two games this season when Miami only converted a combined 5 of 25 on third down against Florida Atlantic and Florida.
Miami’s offensive surge comes at a good time as it now turns its focus to Georgia Tech, whose defense is yielding just 12.8 points per game this season. The Yellow Jackets opened the season with three straight wins before losing to Virginia Tech 17-10 last Thursday night. After averaging 345.3 rushing yards through its first three games, Georgia Tech only managed 129 against the Hokies while quarterback Vad Lee completed only 7 of his 24 pass attempts for 144 yards while throwing two interceptions.
Despite its struggles against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech’s triple option offense is still a more productive unit than any Miami has faced this season, scoring 36.5 points per game while also ranking 51st in total offense. Miami barely escaped with a win in Atlanta last season, edging out the Yellow Jackets 42-36 in overtime while surrendering 287 yards on the ground. However, Miami has done a decent job stopping Georgia Tech’s run game over the past few seasons, winning four in a row against the Yellow Jackets while giving up an average of 206 rushing yards per game during that streak. Georgia Tech’s last win against the Hurricanes was a 41-23 in Atlanta back in 2008.
Even though Georgia Tech’s defense is only yielding 12.8 points per game this season I expect Miami’s offense to score points in this game. As long as Miami’s run defense remains disciplined and plays their gaps correctly against the triple option then the Hurricanes should be able to build a lead and force Georgia Tech to throw the ball, which will spell trouble for the Yellow Jackets.
PREDICTION: Miami 31, Georgia Tech 17