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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson doesn't think his team is too excited about its successful start.
It's been 10 days since the Yellow Jackets (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) rallied for an upset win at Virginia Tech, and Johnson still sees plenty of mistakes that need correcting.
Those concerns come more into focus with Miami (3-2, 1-1) visiting this weekend. The Hurricanes have won five straight in the series by an average of 16 points.
Holding onto the football has been a big problem against the Hurricanes. Three turnovers last season at Miami and in 2011 were too much to overcome.
Two years ago, Hurricanes scored the game's final 23 points at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The winning touchdown came after Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington was stopped short on fourth-and-inches, halting the Jackets' first overtime possession.
"Getting ready for Miami is a huge challenge," Johnson said on Tuesday. "The last few years they've really lit us up scoring points. Offensively we've got to do a good job of taking care of the ball to minimize turnovers and put points on the board ourselves."
Miami, which has recovered seven forced fumbles this season, is 11-0 under coach Al Golden when getting at least three turnovers.
Led by linebackers Denzel Perryman and Thurston Armbrister, who have combined for 45 solo tackles, five sacks, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, the Hurricanes rank 13th nationally with 11 sacks and 15th against the run.
The Jackets' spread option offense, led by first-year starting quarterback Justin Thomas, ranks fifth nationally in third-down percentage and 10th in rushing.
But statistics sometimes are overemphasized. Georgia Tech has averaged 232 yards rushing in the last five games against Miami and is 0-5.
"We're not happy with where we are running the ball," Johnson said. "We need to be getting another 50 or 60 yards per game on our rushing attack. And as we get better with that you will see a lot of big plays in the passing game."
Thomas, who's a big reason why the Jackets are unbeaten, struggles occasionally with ball security and needs to get some receivers other than DeAndre Smelter involved in the passing attack.
Defensively, Georgia Tech could catch a break as star Miami running back Duke Johnson is nursing a sore right ankle from last week's home win over Duke.
It's the same ankle Johnson broke to end his season last year against Florida State, but linebacker Quayshawn Nealy says the Jackets believe he'll be 100 percent.
"That doesn't mean anything," Nealy said. "They're trying to do everything possible to get him back together. I'm pretty sure he's going to be game ready and get all the treatment he needs. That ankle's not going to bother him. He's still going to be Duke Johnson."
Nealy said the same goes for Miami's starting right tackle. The Hurricanes are juggling personnel this week after losing their top two right tackles to injury last week.
"They'll play the best players, so I'm pretty sure they'll be well coached and ready to go," Nealy said. "We will be, too."
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