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Post First thoughts: Georgia Tech

Wednesday November 21, 2007

A few thoughts on several of the storylines in this weekend’s game:

  • 19, 14, 15. Georgia had more points against Georgia Tech in 2002 (51) than in the aggregate from the past three meetings. Credit Tenuta’s defense, but lesser opponents have had better success over the same span of time. Two things have been problems for Georgia in those games. First is the running game. We’re kind of used to Knowshon getting his 100 now, but Georgia failed to break the century mark as a team against Tech last year. In 2005, it was almost a big deal when Kregg Lumpkin managed a few runs of more than a couple of yards. Georgia is averaging just 62 yards of rushing over the last three meetings. Second is the deep pass. Georgia had only one completion over 20 yards in last year’s game – a 25-yarder to Kenneth Harris.

    It’s no coincidence that an effective running game as well as a few well-timed completions downfield played a big part in Georgia’s wins over Florida and Auburn. They’re pretty common indicators of success and should be against Tech as well. Boston College and Virginia Tech had success moving the ball against the Yellow Jackets. The Hokies had two long touchdown passes and rushed for 185 yards. Boston College threw for over 400 yards.

  • Stopping the Tech running game. Easier said than done of course. Choice deserves every bit of his reputation, but the Jackets also have a quality change of pace guy in freshman Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer was second only to Caleb King when it came to in-state tailback prospects a year ago, and he has only lived up to that billing as a true freshman. Choice shredded the Georgia defense for over 150 yards last year, and one might even argue that the imperative to get the ball to Calvin Johnson actually took Tech away from a winning strategy had they used Choice more. Choice was particularly effective in the second half.

  • Matching Tech’s intensity. At some point this week, the staff will remind the players that while some might not consider Tech Georgia’s biggest rival, there isn’t a player in the other locker room who doesn’t consider Georgia the biggest game of the year. They can expect Tech to approach this game with the emotion and desperation that Georgia brought to Jacksonville. A sharp, turnover-free start is almost a must in this game.

  • Taylor Bennett It’s important to make sure that an opponent’s weaknesses remain weaknesses and don’t turn into strengths. One of the most disappointing developments in the Tennessee game was the ease with which the Vols ran the ball. We knew they could pass well, but an effective passing game combined with a power running attack was too much to match. We know that Tech will at least try to establish a running game. Taylor Bennett won’t win this game by himself, but he will take a few shots downfield, and Tech will also mix in some play-action to see if they can catch Georgia paying too much attention to Choice. Tech’s passing game might hit a few plays, but Georgia cannot afford for it to turn into a big threat.

  • It seems that every team now has some kind of quarterback/tailback gimmick, and Josh Nesbitt fills that role for Tech. Recruited as a safety by UGA, Tech promised him a shot at quarterback and is using him situationally. Typically he’ll get the snap and just take off running. There is one play to watch for with Nesbitt where he fakes the run, pulls back, and launches a deep pass. Only a slight overthrow kept it from working against the Hokies (and might have changed that game dramatically), and it did succeed last week against UNC.

  • Will Gailey’s job status be a factor? Possibly. I can see some players trying to make that an issue, but among fans Gailey is more tolerated than supported. The analogue to Phil Fulmer’s situation is close but not quite complete. Fulmer has (check with us again on Sunday) at least some core of support. There are no former players with the status of Peyton Manning taking out full-page ads to support Gailey. Gailey’s status might even become a negative if Georgia can get out in front. As Tech was floundering against Virginia Tech a few weeks ago, fans booed even the anti-drunk driving PSA featuring Gailey. If Tech falls behind by a few scores, the home crowd could turn ugly (uglier).

2 Responses to 'First thoughts: Georgia Tech'

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  • My biggest fear and what I’ve had nightmares about this week is that Yech will show up against us the way we finally did against the gaytors.

  • Ally, that’s a very reasonable worry, but here’s the difference as I see it: our frustrations against the Gators (at least recently) stemmed from us being a better team than the results showed. We were winning SEC titles but didn’t play like it against Florida. This year, we showed up.

    That line of thinking might have held water with last year’s Tech team when they arguably had the better team (or better season). The good news is that’s not the case this year. Even if Tech does show up, I think we’re the better team.