Way-Too-Early Week 11 College Football Preview: Georgia Tech vs Miami

Can Georgia Tech defeat Miami at home in week 11?
Oct 7, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive back Daryl Porter Jr. (2) tackles Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King (10) in the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive back Daryl Porter Jr. (2) tackles Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King (10) in the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone remembers where they were when Miami head coach Mario Cristobal decided to not take a knee against Georgia Tech and just a short time later, Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King rolled to his right and found Christian Leary for a touchdown with one second remaining to win the game. It was one of the most unforgettable games in college football history.

So what will these two teams do for an encore?

Georgia Tech and Miami will meet on November 9th and it will be interesting to see where both teams are at during this point of the season. Georgia Tech is going to be going through a grueling schedule while Miami has one of the ACC's more favorable schedules and they are expected to contend for the ACC title due to their talent acquisition this offseason and that favorable schedule. Could this be a pivotal game for both teams in the ACC race?

While there is still a ways to go before these two teams meet on the field, let's go ahead and get an early look at how these two teams matchup.

Georgia Tech's Defense vs Miami's Offense

Miami is going to have a new look under center this season.

After inconsistent play from Tyler Van Dyke, Cristobal and the Hurricanes were able to grab former Washington State quarterback Cam Ward from the transfer portal. Ward was widely considered to be the top transfer quarterback in the portal and he brings a dual-threat ability to the Hurricanes. Ward still has some growth to do as a passer, but he has a ton of potential. He has a chance to be one of the ACC's quarterbacks this season.

Not only did Miami grab the top quarterback in the portal, they also got one of the top transfer running backs. Former Oregon State running back Damian Martinez will be the lead back for Miami and he was one of the best running backs in the Pac-12 during his time in Corvallis. If sophomore Mark Fletcher is healthy, Miami should have a dynamic running back duo in their backfield this season.

The wide receiver position for Miami should be deep too and one of the best in the ACC. Xavier Restrepo is back after going for over 1,000 yards last season and Jacolby George (57 catches, 864 yards, and 8 touchdowns) helps form a very good 1-2 punch for Miami on the outside. Enter in Houston transfer Sam Brown and top 100 recruits Jojo Trader and Ny Carr and that is a pretty solid group. Miami did not get much out of their tight end position last year, but look out for Elijah Arroyo and Riley Williams.

The offensive line was one of the best in the ACC last year and should be yet again. Jalen Rivers, Anez Copper, and Francis Mauigoa are all back this season. Former five star prospect Samson Okunlola could take over at left guard while Indiana transfer Zach Carpenter should take over for Matt Lee at center.

New defensive coordinator Tyler Santucci is hoping to have Georgia Tech's defense turned around this season in order to help them contend in the ACC. In one season at Duke (2023), Santucci directed the ACC’s top-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 19.0 points per game, which was good for 16thnationally. The Blue Devils also ranked among the nation’s top 50 in rushing defense, passing defense, total defense, tackles for loss, third-down defense, fourth-down defense and red-zone defense. Duke allowed a total of just 10 points in a pair of wins over teams that finished the season in the top 25 – No. 20 Clemson (28-7) and No. 21 NC State (24-3) – and finished 8-5 overall after a 17-10 win over Troy in the 2023 Birmingham Bowl.

Georgia Tech's defensive line might be their biggest question mark on the defense, especially at defensive end. On the inside, Zeek Biggers, Miami/Georgia State transfer Thomas Gore, Penn State transfer Jordan van den Berg, and Horace Lockett have potential, but will Georgia Tech have enough at the edge rusher spot? USC transfer Romello Height should help, but Georgia Tech will need production from this unit.

At linebacker, Kyle Efford is looking to lead a group that includes veteran starter Trenilyas Tatum, Georgia transfer E.J. Lightsey, Louisville transfer Jackson Hamilton and freshman Tah'j Butler.

Georgia Tech is returning a strong duo at safety with LaMiles Brooks and Clayton Powell-Lee, while Ahmari Harvey could be ready for a breakout season in 2024. The biggest question in the secondary will be who starts at corner opposite of Harvey. Tennessee transfer Warren Burrell might be the favorite on the outside while Rhode Island transfer Syeed Gibbs and Rodney Shelley might be the guys at nickel.

Georgia Tech's Offense vs Miami's Defense

Georgia Tech's offense finished as one of the best in the ACC last year and they should be right there again this year.

Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King was one of only two players in the nation with at least 2,700 passing yards, 600 rushing yards, 25 touchdown passes, and five touchdown runs this season (joining LSU’s Jayden Daniels), and one of only six ACC players to achieve those numbers in a regular season since 2000. He led the ACC in touchdown passes and was fourth in passing yards. He is back for another season on The Flats and might be the best quarterback in the conference this year. One reason to buy into the Yellow Jackets is that they might have the best quarterback on the field against many of their opponents. As good as King was though, he had a problem with turnovers and that won't cut it against some of the teams on Georgia Tech's schedule, including Miami.

Jamal Haynes was such a great story last season. He made the change from wide receiver to running back during fall camp and that move paid dividends. Haynes earned all-ACC honors as a running back (third team) and was an honorable mention all-purpose performer. He led Georgia Tech with 1,059 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, and six yards per carry ranked second on the team. Those numbers ranked fifth in the ACC in rushing yards and he was tied for sixth in the conference with seven rushing touchdowns and his 6.0 yards per carry ranked third in the league. Haynes had a strong bowl performance against UCF rushing for a game-high 128 yards on 18 carries. He also had a good outing against the Georgia Bulldogs rushing for 81 yards. Haynes was the second highest-rated player on the Yellow Jackets per Pro Football Focus with a 76.9 score and looks primed for another big season in 2024. I think he is in for a huge season and is not getting the recognition he has earned.

This is going to be one of the deepest wide receiver rooms in the ACC and there are some newcomers who could bolster the group.

Eric Singleton Jr was the highest-rated player in the Yellow Jackets 2023 recruiting class according to 247Sports and he looked like he might be a potential superstar last season.

Singleton Jr. ranked fourth among all freshmen nationally (true or redshirt) in 2023 with 59.5 receiving yards per game and was tied for fourth among true freshmen nationally with six touchdown receptions. His 714 receiving yards and six touchdown catches both ranked among the top 10 overall in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while his six TD receptions were the second-most by a freshman in Georgia Tech history. Could he have an even better season in 2024? I think it is certainly possible and the chemistry between him and King was noticeable last year.

Singleton is not the only dangerous receiver for the Yellow Jackets.

Malik Rutherford was the second-leading receiver on Georgia Tech. He caught 46 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 10. 5 yards per catch. His biggest performance came in Georgia Tech's big win over North Carolina. Rutherford caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. He was a reliable player and could stretch the field with his speed. He is also a player who can get the ball in a variety of ways. 

Christian Leary was the fourth-leading receiver for Georgia Tech this season, catching 25 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns, while also returning kickoffs.

Chase Lane had a good start to the year, but injuries cost him some time. I think he could have a really good 2024 season if he stays healthy. Duquesne transfer Abdul Janneh had six catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He will once again provide depth for Georgia Tech next year. 

Leo Blackburn is one of the most physically impressive players on the Georgia Tech roster at 6'5 220 LBS and if he is able to stay healthy this season, he could add a whole new element to the Yellow Jackets offense.

The offensive line is going to be one of the best in the ACC as well.

In just one season, head coach Brent Key and first-year offensive line coach Geep Wade turned Georgia Tech's offensive line from its biggest weakness to perhaps the best unit on the entire team. Georgia Tech went from one of the worst rushing teams in the ACC to leading the league in rushing. It was a pretty stunning turnaround if you had watched the line in 2022 and the good news for the Yellow Jackets is that the offensive line returns four of the five starters and added an All-Conference transfer this offseason. 

Miami's defensive line is going to pose a huge threat this season though.

The Hurricanes made it a point to invest in their defensive line this offseason and it could pay off in a big way. The Hurricanes are returning Reuben Bain (7.5 sacks last season) and are hoping that Akheem Mesidor can stay healthy, but they will also be relying on a lot of newcomers and freshmen this season. Five star defensive tackles Justin Scott and Armondo Blount could get early playing time, as could Marquise Lightfoot. Transfers Marley Cook (MTSU), CJ Clark (NC State), Simeon Barrow (Michigan State), Tyler Baron (Tennessee), and Elijah Alston (Marshall) should all see time for the Hurricanes.

Linebacker has two solid starters in Francisco Mauigoa and Wesley Bissainthe, but depth could be a concern.

The secondary is the weakest part of the entire Miami team in my opinion. They lost safeties Kam Kinchens and James Williams to the NFL, as well as Jadyn Davis. Cornerback Daryl Porter Jr is back though, as is young cornerback Damari Brown. Freshman Zaquan Patterson could be a factor at safety and Washington transfer Mishael Powell should as well.


On paper, I think that Miami is a better team than Georgia Tech and you can make the argument that a lot of their position groups are the best in the ACC. The big question though is if Mario Cristobal is going to get the most out of this group. He is not known for his coaching acumen on gameday (see last year) and his seat will be scorching hot if Miami is not contending for the ACC title. If the Hurricanes are not living up to expectations, how fired up will they be to make the tip to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech?

Jackson Caudell


Jackson Caudell covers Georgia Tech Athletics and the Atlanta Hawks for FanNation