In Paul Johnson’s only previous trips to Sanford Stadium as Georgia Tech coach, the Yellow Jackets’ offense put up the second- and third-biggest rushing outputs by a visiting team in history.
The Yellow Jackets amassed 409 yards in a 45-42 win in 2008 and 411 yards in a 42-34 loss in 2010.
Advantage Georgia Tech? Maybe not.
Georgia’s defense under third-year coordinator Todd Grantham has handled the triple-option offense better the last two times it has gone up against it, holding the Yellow Jackets to 243 rushing yards last year in Atlanta and limiting the FCS’s top rushing team, Georgia Southern, to 302 last Saturday, when Georgia allowed 318 total yards in a 45-14 Bulldogs victory.
“Any time you do something, continuity is good,” Grantham said. “I think the more you see things, the better you are at it.”
Georgia Tech is third in the nation in rushing at 324.9 yards per game.
“It’s the same style of offense, so we have the insight on what kind of offense Tech will run, so we should be prepared for it,” nose guard John Jenkins said.
The Bulldogs didn’t have to start from scratch, even though Georgia Southern used some formations that Georgia Tech hasn’t used.
“There’s some carryover,” Grantham said. “We tweaked a few things here and there.”
Georgia didn’t put on the full pads on Monday like it had the week before, but it planned to do so the rest of the week.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt said recent performances by his defense against the triple option don’t guarantee anything Saturday.
“I don’t want to make any predictions,” Richt said. “They are just so explosive that I just don’t know how we are going to handle it. We’re going to have to find out.”
Johnson said playing Georgia Southern last week will help Georgia “to some degree,” but he said “it’s not a big secret” what’s coming because both sides know what the other will bring.
“They played their base defense, which is what they’ve done against us the last two years,” he said. “They didn’t do anything a whole lot differently. We’ve played each other enough now that I don’t think they’ll be a big guessing game as to what we’re doing and what they’re doing. It’ll come down to execution and maybe having the right thing on at the right time.”
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani called Johnson “the Naismith of that offense, if you will. He invented it. He knows it better than most
people know their defense.”
Georgia’s defense can find room to improve, linebacker Christian Robinson said. Georgia Southern drove the ball inside the Bulldogs’ 35-yard line on its first four possessions in the game.
“We didn’t get off the field,” Robinson said. “We got lucky down there in the red zone going into half. They got that (chop-block) penalty that kind of shot themselves in the foot, but I think what we have to work on is tackling. We missed a lot of tackles, I missed a lot of tackles. We have to work on holding the gap.”