Since the Louisville debacle my pre-game blog entries have focused on goals UM needed to meet to show the kind of improvement needed to win games like Saturday's against Georgia Tech and next week at home against Virginia Tech. For the record, UM went a combined 8-5 in the goals I set for them in their last three games.
So, anyway, now that we've finally reached the point where they are playing those big games I'm debuting a new theme to preview each of UM's remaining games: 5 Most Important Things. These are the five most important things I think the Canes needs to either achieve themselves or stop the other team from achieving to win. Each week, I'd like to hear what you guys think are the 5 Most Important Things before kickoff. Then, we can go back and see if we were right or wrong. Now, for this week's 5 most important things.
1. HOLD GEORGIA TECH TO FEWER THAN 20 POINTS: It's no secret UM's offense has been lackluster this season. The defense itself has asked for the UM offense to "Just give Us 21 and We'll Take Care of the Rest." This week, the defense can't back down from that promise or the Canes won't win. I would also include limiting Calvin Johnson from making big plays. But it won't matter if the Canes can hold G-Tech to fewer than 20 points.
2. UM'S DEFENSE MUST CONTINUE TO PROVIDE TURNOVERS AND GOOD FIELD POSITION FOR THE OFFENSE: Miami's offense hasn't driven 80 yards down the field for a score this season more than once in a single game except against FAMU. I don't want to set a fixed number of turnovers the UM defense must produce, but I think its going to need to be somewhere around 3 for their offense to have a better chance of eclipsing 21 points.
3. UM's OFFENSE CANNOT TURN THE BALL OVER INSIDE ITS OWN 30: The defense is already going to be working its tail off. If the offense gets careless and gives Georgia Tech great field position and easy scores, the enthusiasm of UM's defense will quickly fade and the Yellow Jackets will be on their way to an easy victory.
4. ESTABLISH A RUNNING GAME: For the past three weeks, UM's running game has gone from very good to mediocre to flat out terrible. If UM can't pick up yardage on the ground and Kyle Wright is forced to throw on nearly every big play, UM will not win this game.
5. DO WHAT IS ASKED ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Jon Peattie cannot miss field goals and the special teams cannot pick-up any stupid penalties that kill field position. Getting a big play in this game would obviously be a plus. But making a mistake would be far more costly.
MY PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 23, UM 20. As badly as the Hurricanes have played this season, I can't see them showing up to Bobby Dodd Stadium and playing any worse than they already have. UM usually plays better on the road in tough ball games -- just look up last year's road trip to Virginia Tech. I would go with the flat out upset here because I really don't think much of the Yellow Jackets. But considering how much UM's running game has struggled of late, that to me will ultimately be why the Canes will lose this game. In last year's big road win at Virginia Tech, UM ran the ball soundly. Unless we see Javarris James running all over the Yellow Jackets on Saturday, I fear this game will end up being decided by a late offensive blunder.