I could go the Xs and Os route here, breaking down the triple option and discussing how Miami defense is ready for Georgia Tech. In doing so, the critics would come back at me with their facts – 472 yards given up on the ground last year, the Yellow Jackets consistently owning the Canes since 2005.
We’d go back and forth, puffing out our chests, debating our points, agreeing to disagree and continuing our countdown to kickoff. A waste of everyone’s time.
Regarding this year’s Miami/Georgia Tech match up, I’m not concerned with stats. Instead, I’m relying on sheer Canes know-how and a gut feeling. The winds of change are blowing. Streaks are eventually broken. Simply put, it’s Miami’s time to take care of business, getting this monkey off the program’s back and winning another ‘statement game’ early in the season.
Year three of the Randy Shannon era and things are falling into place nicely. There was some false hope these past few years. The mindset that “we’re still Miami” and based on that premise alone, the Canes should’ve “willed” themselves to more wins. Too much focus on a player’s recruiting ranking as opposed to a realistic assessment regarding his lack of production the field a few years later.
Miami could’ve stolen one from Georgia Tech anytime between 2005-2007. Those weren’t dominant wins. The Canes either couldn’t get it going offensively, couldn’t get the stop defensively or found a way to self-implode due to a lack of depth and heart.
In 2008, a full-on massacre. Miami couldn’t stop the run and has spent the better part of this past year reliving that 41-23 shellacking. Anytime coaches felt players needed a wake up call, in went a copy of last season’s annihilation – bringing everybody right back down to earth. Visibly upsetting and embarrassing players, forcing them to circle this year’s match up on the calendar as soon as the ACC schedule was released.
Miami agreed to roll the dice with a season opening road game at Florida State, knowing big money was being offered and that it was a high-profile, prime time showdown. That said, the university had some stipulations and requests of the Labor Day series was to be renewed. Aside from wanting Virginia Tech in September instead of November, Miami also requested an early season showdown with Georgia Tech – on a Thursday night, no less. A prime time, national stage for a rematch which the Canes feel is a redemption game.
A recent Atlanta Journal Constitution pegged the Canes as taking Thursday night’s match up “lightly”, based on some standard coachspeak from Shannon. How any team takes lightly a foe that’s dropped them four straight – it’s inconceivable and it reads like nothing more than some pot stirring from a rival hometown rag.
Shannon is simply guarding against a letdown, not wanting his team to get too high after last week’s thrilling comeback against the Noles. The same FSU bunch who proved unable to let go of the loss to UM, trailing not-so-mighty Jacksonville State, 9-7 with under a minute to play.
Where Florida State coaches failed to rejuvenate their kids after a gut wrenching loss, Shannon and staff want to make sure the Canes remain hungry, even-keel and level-headed regarding their thrilling win.
It’s 2009 and it’s Miami’s time. Whether an ACC title is in the cards remains to be seen… but this will be a year of growth for the Canes and that first step forward is beating the Florida States, North Carolinas and Georgia Techs on their schedule. Teams that were a play or two better the past handful of years and able to close when Miami couldn’t.
Aside from talent and depth returning, since last year’s debacle Miami has since found a quarterback and an offensive coordinator. Jacory Harris had a career outing at Florida State. Not just a personal best, but J12 threw for more yards against the Noles than any other Canes quarterback in the storied series.
Aside from Harris’ swagger, his arm, his decision-making and the talent surrounding him, the biggest addition to the Miami offense is veteran coordinator Mark Whipple. The new offensive schemes, the brilliant mind and the ability to create mismatches was flawless on Labor Day. The Canes not only found themselves a quarterback; they also found their offensive maestro. The run sets up the pass, the pass sets up the run and the playbook has barely even been dented. Tech will see some new-look offensive plays tomorrow night and Whipple will keep ’em guessing all night long.
Miami will move the chains on Thursday – both in the air and on the ground. Whipple will call the shots, Harris will execute and the Canes won’t spend the night playing from behind. The defense will have fresh legs and the Jackets won’t have the luxury of running the ball while sitting on a lead. Not this year.
True, this is all rooted in one man’s opinion, but it’s a gut feeling based on following this rebuilding project religiously the past few seasons. Miami has made strides and is ready to turn that corner. Not at a national contender level, but a ‘ready to take down some conference rivals’ level. The resurgence began in Tallahassee and continues Thursday night at Landshark Stadium.
The Canes are hungry, the program is due and No. 15th-ranked Georgia Tech is formidable foe.
It’s Miami’s time. That may just be an opinion, but sometimes a gut feeling is just as valid as a page full of numbers and stats.