Miami defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (80) chases Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall (16) late in the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. The host Hurricanes won, 25-24. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)
Photo: AL DIAZ/TNS
Photo: AL DIAZ/TNS

How Georgia Tech’s running game sputtered

Georgia Tech made the first move, then Miami responded. After that, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t come up with an effective response.

The ultimate result was Tech’s 25-24 defeat to the No. 11 Hurricanes. In Tech’s first three possessions, the Jackets scored 14 points and ran 18 plays for 141 yards. Tech A-backs accounted for 126 of those yards as the Jackets ran wild on the perimeter with toss plays.

“It was a new wrinkle they had for us this year,” Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.

What the Jackets did was use their offensive tackles rather than guards to seal off the play-side linebacker on toss plays to the A-backs, according to Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said. It was something Miami had not prepared for, and it was working.

“That’s a whole ’nother body that you have to get across to get into the alley, so coach Diaz came to us and showed us the play,” Miami linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. “He doesn’t just tell us, he shows us what’s happening to us, and then we just execute it and it comes together.”

After the third series, which put the Jackets ahead 14-3, Tech had seven more possessions, not counting a one-play clock-killing drive to end the first half. They produced one field goal and 140 yards on 43 plays. The A-backs gained just 25 more yards on rushing attempts. Tech’s 226 rushing yards was far below its season average of 396 yards per game in its first four games.

“I think for the most part we took away the dive,” Diaz said. “We took away the play right up the middle of the football field. And the University of Miami, we should be able to run sideline to sideline. If we get the thing going east and west, once we kind of got our support better, I felt better about our chances.”

Tech often had trouble blocking on the perimeter, failing to put defensive backs and linebackers to the ground to give the A-backs room to run.

“The lane was getting closed,” coach Paul Johnson said. “We weren’t getting a linebacker sealed. It was the little things. Then, when you try to do something else, it doesn’t work, you get behind (schedule to convert a first down).”

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