Originally created 10/03/04

Jackets fail to weather the storm



ATLANTA - The biggest problem with hurricanes is that no matter how much you prepare, there is really nothing you can do to stop them.

Florida found that out in September. Georgia Tech found out Saturday.

But really, despite all the weather references, Miami's 27-3 victory over Georgia Tech will generate, the Hurricanes' win wasn't elemental, just elementary.

Miami is bigger and faster, one of those elite teams that perennially stocks NFL rosters across the country. The Hurricanes chase national titles; Georgia Tech chases Florida State.

While Georgia Tech, an ambitious team, is still trying to fight its way out of Florida State's shadow, Miami has spent its recent history overshadowing the Seminoles.

And if this game was a foreshadowing of the future, Georgia Tech can look forward to an even longer life in the eclipse.

The Hurricanes have entered the Atlantic Coast Conference, and this near-perfect storm is coming Georgia Tech's way. After years of chasing Florida State, Georgia Tech now has to chase someone even better.

Starting next year, the Yellow Jackets will have the displeasure of playing Miami every year on their side of the subdivided ACC.

The initial forecast is not good.

With an extra week to prepare, the Yellow Jackets put in motion a grand plan to use two quarterbacks.

A dozen wouldn't have helped.

Chan Gailey gave starter Reggie Ball more carries than a mailman, and when Ball was resting, he gave Damarius Bilbo a few more. Ball rushed for a team-high 88 yards but gave back 28 when he was tackled for losses.

When your best play is a quarterback keeper, your offense is in neutral, if not neutralized. At its best, Georgia Tech lines up good enough to play with a Miami at its second best, at least one deep, and that is actually a compliment.

But this was not Georgia Tech at its best - interceptions, dropped passes, untimely sacks - and it added up to a mortal blow. On a day Georgia Tech needed to play almost perfect, it was nowhere close.

Ball complained that Miami threw more zone and less man-to-man defense than Georgia Tech expected. But when teams don't exactly match up man-to-man, maybe that's not a bad thing.

"I didn't execute," Ball said.

Miami had its troubles also.

Quarterback Brock Berlin is a model of consistency, a Model T. He consistently missed open receivers, and his backup Kyle Wright was no better.

But an overwhelming defense, which held Florida State to 10 points in the season opener, wasn't going to let this one get away.

The game was respectable until the second offensive play of the second half when the Hurricanes hit a 44-yard touchdown pass for a 27-3 lead. Then it drooped to semi-respectable status.

The Jackets are a team with big ambitions and big challenges that are going to get even bigger.

And now they know that against the Hurricanes, no one is weatherproof.