CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Brad Kaaya is becoming a creature of habit.
Football, eat, class, eat, study, eat, sleep.
"Not too difficult," Miami's true freshman quarterback said.
It's routine now, and here's something else he'd like to see become routine: No interceptions. Kaaya had the first interception-free game of his young college career in last week's win over Duke, and will aim for his first road win on Saturday night when Miami (3-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) goes into Atlanta to face Georgia Tech (4-0, 1-0).
Kaaya and the Hurricanes are 3-0 at home this season, but 0-2 on the road. No Miami team has started 0-3 away from home since 1995, the year Kaaya was born. And though the regular season will be only half-over when the final whistle blows in Atlanta, the Hurricanes know a loss would put a big hurt on their ACC Coastal Division chances.
"It's going to be important for (Kaaya) to protect the ball against this group because they do a great job with their vision and break and intercepting balls," Miami coach Al Golden said. "They have a down four that can get to you, and they also have a pressure package that has been very successful. So I don't think there's any question that he's going to have to protect the ball again."
Kaaya threw seven interceptions — at least two weren't entirely his fault — in the first four games. He wasn't picked off last week, threw two spectacular touchdown passes and helped Miami top Duke 22-10.
Miami's losses so far have been at Louisville and at Nebraska, both night games, both with plenty of buildup. If nothing else, going through those games should make Kaaya feel more comfortable in this one.
Kaaya's road numbers have been fine; he's actually been a touch more accurate on the road (63 percent) than at home (60 percent). But the Yellow Jackets have been great against the pass so far this season, allowing only three touchdown throws in 109 attempts through the first four games on their schedule.
Still, Miami has plenty of faith in Kaaya.
"He's not even close to where he's going to be," Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said. "I've got a lot of faith in him. He's going to be one of those guys who's going to be special."
Kaaya threw seven interceptions in the first four games, and offensive coordinator James Coley said getting through the Duke game without a giveaway was a top priority for the freshman.
Coley raved about that aspect. As per his nature, Kaaya stayed even-keeled when discussing the subject.
"It's about doing a good job of making the right decision, maker safer throws, taking the high-percentage throw over low-percentage throws," Kaaya said.
Even with senior Ryan Williams still working his way back from a knee injury suffered in the spring, the job remains unquestionably Kaaya's for now, and it's hard to envision him losing the role if he keeps playing at this rate.
With 12 touchdowns this season and 1,275 yards so far, Kaaya is turning heads and proving Miami made the right call in naming him the starter.
"After watching him in August, no, we're not surprised," Golden said. "That's obviously what led to our decision, what we saw from him internally. The fact that he protected the football last week is going to be critical in this game. He accepted a lot of coaching last week, he did what he had to do for us to win ... and hopefully he'll continue to make progress."
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