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Game day blog: Ga. Tech 17, UM 14 (F)

I'm here at the OB for Georgia Tech and UM. Feel free to watch the game with me and feed me your thoughts as the game moves along.

- The Canes needed an answer and got it. Now, they need another one. With 7:34 left, Georgia Tech connected on a 39-yard field goal to take the lead once again. Can the Canes' offense and Kyle Wright respond again like it did on its previous drive? Will the defense hold if it needs to? We'll find out.

* I'm going down to the field at the 7-minute mark. All the media do. I'll update the blog after the game. But feel free to continue to pour your thoughts in as you watch it all unfold as well as after the game. As usual, I'll have my postgame locker room coverage and more.

THE RECAP, DRIVE BY DRIVE (Key plays and notes)
UM's 8th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 27, 2:26 left)
- On the first play, Darryl Richard sacks Kyle Wright for an 8-yard loss. Not the type of play you want to start your comeback.
- But on the next play, the Canes catch a bit of a break when Tech is flagged for pass interference.
- Freeman comes in again following a Graig Cooper first down run to the UM 48. But his pass is just over the outstretched arm of Sam Shields down field, incomplete.
- AT THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Miami has a third and three at Tech's 45.
- On a key third and three, Wright fakes a handoff and scrambles forward for a big first down. On the next play, Cooper comes through with another nice run, rumbling down for a first down at the Tech 24.
- On third and two, McNeal picks up one yard. UM goes for it on fourth down and gets it with a McNeal run up the middle for 6 yards to the GT 9.
- It all comes down to this series inside the GT 10. On third and goal from the GT 3, Wright puts the ball in the air in the end zone for Shields and he comes down with the catch with 10:37 left. Drive: 14 plays, 73 yards, 6:53. UM 14, GT 14.

GT's 9th DRIVE (1st and 10 at the GT 30, 10:30 left)
- Tech had a chance to move down the field quickly on the first play, but a pass from Taylor Bennett to Greg Smith was just out of reach near midfield.
- On third down, Bennett connects with Demaryius Thomas for a big first down and a 14-yard gain to the Tech 46.
- Tech picks up another first down and moves into Miami territory. Choice does it with his legs again. Tech has a first down at the UM 44.
- Choice burns the Canes again -- a 15-yard outburst. Miami's old reliable -- its run defense -- is not existant today. Choice has 184 yards right now.
- A big 3rd down and 3 at the UM 22... let's see what happens. Bennett throws an incomplete pass. Looked like UM jumped offsides. Canes caught a break.
- Travis Bell ends the drive with a 39-yard field goal to give Georgia Tech a 17-14 lead with 7:34 left. Miami is going to need its offense to come through again. Drive: 10 plays, 48 yards, 3:03. GT 17, UM 14.

GT's 7th drive (1st and 10 at the GT 20, 14:45 left)
- Tashard Choice, limited to 52 yards on 13 carries in the first half, gets the first two plays of the second half and picks up a first down with 10 combined yards.
- On his third carry, he explodes up the middle and rumbles downfield for a 54-yard gain to the UM 16. He's brought down by Bruce Johnson.
- Miami calls timeout with 12:44 left in the quarter. On third and four from the UM 12, quarter Taylor Bennett fakes a handoff, and runs the bootleg for a touchdown with 11:58 left in the quarter. Drive: 7 plays, 80 yards, 3:02. UM 7, GT 7.

UM's 7th DRIVE (1st and 10 at the UM 20)
- The offense goes three and out. Wright is forced to scramble on third down and he falls short of the first down by 2 yards. Matt Bosher gets off a good punt, 49 yards, to the Tech 23 that is fair caught. Tech takes over with 10:29 left in the quarter.

GT's 8th DRIVE (1st and 10 at the GT 23)
- Tashard Choice is starting to maul Miami on the ground with big chunks on carries.
- After another hefty gain, Tech gets flagged for holding. Might be what saves the Canes here.
- Maybe not, cornerback Glenn Sharpe gives Tech a first down on a defensive holding penalty.
- Tech moves inside the Miami 30 and down to the 24 on a 15-yard pass completion. Sharpe got burned on the coverage.
- On second down from the same spot, Tech picks up 17 yards on a playaction fake to the tight end. Miami's defense looks confused.
- The drive finally ends with Taylor Bennett scoring his second TD of the game on a 3-yard run. Drive: 14 plays, 77 yards, 7:59.
- Miami's defense has got to be exhausted.

- Miami has done a decent job limiting Tashard Choice and forcing Tech to use its terrible pass offense. But UM hasn't been able to cash in.
- UM freshman Shawnbrey McNeal scored the game's only touchdown on a 39-yard run. But other than that, the Canes offense has been bottled up. Miami somehow still racked up 108 yards rushing on the Georgia Tech defense that ranks sixth nationall in rushing defense.
- Kyle Wright has managed a good game thus far, escaping the blitz a number of times. He hasn't been sacked yet.
- Dwayne Hendricks has gone down with an apparent right knee injury. He's the third UM defensive tackle out of this game. The only healthy ones right now are Joe Joseph, Teraz McCray and Luqman Abdallah.
- Miami has outscored opponents 71-0 in the first half this season at the OB.

GT's 3rd drive (1st and 10 at the GT 32, 1:52)
- Tech faces another third down and short, and Bennett completes an 11-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas for a first down to the Tech 49. END OF THE FIRST QUARTER.
- But after Tech moves the ball into UM territory, its drive fizzles and ends when Bennett throws a third and three pass behind his receiver and out of bounds.

UM's 4th drive (1st and 10 at the UM 15, 14:38)
- Miami goes a quick three and out, but had a chance for a big play on first down when Wright puts the ball on the money on what would have been a 40-plus yard gain. But the pass falls incomplete when Sam Shields can't haul it in. The Canes avoid disaster on third down when Wright's pass and a potential interception is dropped by Tech's Phillip Wheeler at the UM 30.

GT's 4th Drive (1st and 10 at the GT 43, 13:52)
- Tech converts another third and long on its first series on a pass play. A play later, the Canes look to have more trouble at defensive tackle. Dwayne Hendricks has gone down with an apparent right knee injury.
- On fourth and three at the UM 37, Tech decides to go for it. But Eric Moncur gets in and swats a pass away incomplete. The Canes will take over with 11:38 left and good field position.

UM's 5th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 37, 11:38)
- Miami picks up a first down right away on back-to-back runs by Graig Cooper which total 13 yards. - But penalties start to kill the Canes. On the next play, Cooper looks to have picked up another first down on a 12-yard toss sweep. But the Canes are flagged for holding. It moves the ball back to the UM 40. On the next play, Sam Shields gets flagged for a block in the back, bringing up a first and 30 at the UM 30.
- Kirby Freeman makes an appearance yet again. Looks like offensive coordinator Patrick Nix is using him simply to run the option out of the shotgun. It hasn't been very successful.

GT's 5th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 47, 8:11 left)
- Josh Nesbitt comes in at quarterback for Tech and immediately takes a direct snap and runs forward for 15 yards to the UM 32.
- Bruce Johnson has a chance at a second interception, but drops the ball at the UM 10. On second and 15, Nesbitt scrambles for a 14-yard gain, but Tech's Matt Rhodes is flagged for holding and a personal foul, moving the ball all the way back to the Georgia Tech 40. Wonder what Randy Shannon would have done to Rhodes if he was a Cane.
- Tech eventually punts.

UM's 6th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 32)
- After a second down pass to Chris Zellner picked up some of the yardage lost on a first down carry that lost four yards, Kyle Wright escapes the bltiz and scrambles forward on third down for a first down to the UM 47.
- On third and seven at midfield, Wright finds Sam Shields for a 10-yard gain and another first down. Hey, Shields caught it!
- On the next play, UM has a chance at another score, but Wright just overthrows an open Darnell Jenkins downfield.
- The Canes end up having to punt. David Strimple comes on -- he's the pooch punter -- and gets the ball inside the Tech 20 where the Yellow Jackets take over with 3:09 left.

GT's 6th Drive (1st and 10 at Tech 17, 3:09 left)
- Tech picks up another first down on third down when Demaryius Thomas finds himself open at the Tech 37. The drive marches forward but eventually ends with a punt. Miami ends the half by taking a knee.

UM's 1st drive (1st and 10 at the UM 20)
- The Canes run the same play, a deep streak down the sideline -- twice to Darnell Jenkins and once to Sam Shields -- on the first three plays from scrimmage. But none of the passes are completed. But one draws a defensive pass interference penalty on GT corner Jahi Word-Daniels, moving the ball to the Georgia Tech 35. The Yellow Jackets end the drive though with some pressure on Wright.
- Lucky for the Canes, Matt Bosher gets a nice bounce on his punt, which trickles down to the GT 14.

GT's 1st drive (1st and 10 at GT 14, 13:23 left)
- On second and 7, the Yellow Jackets run the counter to Tashard Choice for a big 17-yard gain. Miami's defense got run over on that play. Choice then converts a third down and long, moving the ball to midfield, on a swing pass. But Miami's defense gets some pressure on GT QB Taylor Bennett and ends the drive with three incompletions.
- Tech punts the ball to the UM 14.

UM's 2nd drive (1st and 10 at the UM 14, 10:55 left)
- Jerrell Mabry picks up Miami's first positive gain and first down, on a short pass that he turned up field for 10 yards.
- On the next play, Kirby Freeman comes in for one play that loses eight yards when Javarris James fumbles and recovers back at the 18. Miami looks ugly on its next two plays with Wright back in and the Canes punt from their 20.

GT's 2nd drive (1st and 10 at the UM 36, 7:58 left)
- Tech has great field position, but can't move the ball. And on third and 3, Bennett gets picked in the end zone with UM cornerback Bruce Johnson stelas the ball from Greg Smith. Nice grab.

UM's 3rd drive (1st and 10 at the UM 20, 6:32 left)
- On first down, freshman Shawnbrey McNeal escapes on a 41-yard run into Tech territory. I use escape for a reason. UM center John Rochford is flagged for holding. The Canes are eventually forced to punt. But on fourth down, Miami gets gutsy and calls for the fake punt. Running back Derron Thomas takes the direct snap and rumbles his way down to the Georgia Tech 48.
- On the next series of downs, Miami gets a nice grab from Chris Zellner makes a nice catch on third and 7, bringing up a 4th and 1 at the GT 39.
- On the next play, Shawnbrey McNeal picks up a first down and then some, leaping over a pile of Yellow Jackets on his way to a 39-yard touchdown. He turned on the after burners. The drive: 8 plays, 80 yards, 4:32 on the drive. UM 7, GT 0.

Some quick keys to the game for the Canes
- Protect Kyle Wright as long as you can. Georgia Tech is a sack machine. Kyle can't spend his day running for his life.
- Limit Tashard Choice. He's the key to the Tech offense.
- Win on special teams. Miami needs to win the field position battle because Tech will put pressure on UM's passing game all day.

Notes: Receiver Lance Leggett and defensive tackle Josh Holmes are scratches for this one. Linebacker Colin McCarthy is also out.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 20, Miami 17. Hate to do this to The U. But I'm going to see if the opposite approach brings them some luck.