Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:
1) Georgia Tech is #29 nationally in total defense. They’re #6 in 3rd down defense (we’re #5 in 3rd down conversion offense). But this is misleading when looking at the offenses they’ve faced. Virginia Tech is their signature win, but no one would say they are an offensive juggernaut. Wins over Pitt and UNC don’t require much, Miami only did enough to win, Clemson is not as prolific as years past, and Duke ran all over them last week. They lost to Tennessee. Not to mention they are dead-stinkin’ last in the nation in red zone defense.
2) Playing against UGA transfers. JJ Green is still on the GT roster, and contributing, but doesn’t play a prominent role in their offense. Does it seem like we play a former Georgia player every week? It seems like it to me.
3) Tech is undefeated at home this season. Big whoop. So are we. It may be called Bobby Dodd Stadium, and it may have Grant Field etched on some marker or such, but we know what name is really on that playing surface. And its initials are Mark. Richt.
Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1) Georgia Tech rushing offense. Say what you will about the wishbone, wing-T, triple-option spread, no chill Paul Johnson attack, but it still works. Some of the time. They are the #4 rushing attack in the nation, averaging over 319 yards per game. They score 3 rushing touchdowns per contest, and gain about 5.5 yards every running play. They ran for 535 yards on the ground earlier this season. At some point, this is tricky to defend, and Coach Smart and Coach Tucker better have a game plan.
2) TaQuon Marshall’s passing game. The Georgia Tech quarterback is dual-threat, but the opposite of what most folks call dual-threat quarterbacks. He’s the leading rusher with over 1,200 yards on the ground, but Tech has 12 more guys toting the pigskin to spell his legs. So sometimes, albeit infrequently, he uses his arm.
He’s only completed 41 passes on the year (38% of attempts), basically 4 completions a game, though he does have 9 of those resulting in the end zone. And when someone does catch it, it tends to be for big yardage. Leading receiver Ricky Jeune is averaging 50 yards receiving a game, but also averages 22 yards per catch. Qua Sercy likewise has big numbers: only 4 catches this season but at 32.5 yards per. And his longest catch only went for 40! So that is some serious efficient use of the air game (when it isn’t incomplete).
3) Tackling the guy with the ball. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet it isn’t. And especially so when facing slippery backs like Kerryon Johnson, Benny Snell, and the baker’s dozen of Yellow Jacket ball carriers.
Earlier in the season, I was amazed at the perimeter contain of our defense. Roquan was everywhere, Lo Carter was running everyone down, and our DB’s were playing aggressive run support. But I have to say our tackling has been less successful of late. Have we played better teams of late? Sure. I still think we’ve missed way too many plays in the backfield, or letting backs slip through for solid gains when we have the line jammed up, and our dearth of sacks is more from missed tackles than lack of pressure. Coach Smart even alluded to it in his press conference a week or two ago… he mentioned that Georgia is not a proficient tackling team. Apparently his staff measures tackling by tracking 1 on 1 opportunities and how often that defender makes the play. By his measure, we’re not up to standard. This is a game where that can hurt you.
What worries you about Saturday’s game with the Ramblin’ Wreck? Leave it in the comments below, HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING, and as always…