Canes face Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Morris to start again

Linebacker Sean Spence (31); defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo (97) and defensive back Ryan Hill (13) celebrate during the first quarter of the University of Miami's homecoming football game against the University of Maryland. Miami ended up winning the game 26-20. Jessica Hodder//The Miami Hurricane

It’s all going to come down to assignment football for the Miami Hurricanes.

With the opportunity to win back-to-back games with a true freshman quarterback, the Miami Hurricanes must first stop the triple option of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. Saturday at noon.

It’s a critical game for Canes as they have the Yellow Jackets have won eight of 10 in Atlanta against Miami.

“It’s another chance for us to get better in the conference,” Shannon said. “It’s going to be a tough game because of their offense, how the triple option works. A new quarterback, the offense doesn’t change at all. [Paul] Johnson believes in what he’s doing, that guys will execute it.”

When Miami traveled to Georgia Tech in 2008, players said they were over confident and thought they were going to the ACC Championship. The Yellow Jackets ran to a 41-23 victory and had 472 rushing yards and four touchdowns and ended Miami’s five-game win streak. It was the second must rushing yards the Hurricanes ever allowed.

“We gave up a lot of big plays on defense, they rushed for a lot of yards,” junior cornerback Brandon Harris said. “It was just one of those games where they were clicking and nothing was going our way. We definitely don’t want a repeat of that this year. We’re very focused [on] our assignments.”

But last year, the Hurricanes put a clinic in on how to stop the triple option as the Canes smacked Georgia Tech, 33-17. The Hurricanes held the Yellow Jackets to 95 rushing yard and 2.4 yards. A cool and in control junior quarterback Jacory Harris completed 20 of 25 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. However, the Hurricanes will be without Harris this year against Georgia Tech according to Shannon.

True freshman Stephen Morris will make his second straight start. Morris was 18 for 30 for 286 passing yards and threw the game-winning touchdown to senior captain Leonard Hankerson with 37 seconds left against Maryland.

But Shannon doesn’t want to rely on the offense this game. His goal is to have the defense dominate Georgia Tech triple option like they did last season. Georgia Tech has the widest spacing between offensive lineman in the nation and are known for going for the cut blocks on defensive lineman and linebackers. Shannon wants to make sure his team is ready for all of their duties through practice.

In order to simulate the triple option offense, the Hurricanes have been practicing with three footballs and the defense has one simple goal.

“Tackle everyone,” junior linebacker Sean Spence said.

“All we can do is make sure everyone takes care of their assignments,” Shannon said. “It has to be 11 guys to football at all times. We’re going to cut in practice, simulate games. Some say ‘why do that?’ Well, that’s what they see in games. Their muscle memory has to get used to bending at the knees.”

Players know they cannot make mistakes against the Yellow Jackets and must be able to make the first initial tackle.

“This is a game where you have to have the help of your defense, all 11 guys on the field have to focus on their assignments,” Harris said. “Don’t worry about anyone else’s job, just make sure you cover your territory. They go for the homerun. You can’t get caught slipping, because they’ll score a touchdown on you.”

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at