Todd Grantham and Georgia had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.
The Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator won’t mind waiting another 52 weeks to see the Yellow Jackets again after his defense was on the field for 92 plays in a 42-34 win Saturday night.
"I’m glad we can go back and now play against a normal offense, just because you don’t ever see that offense," Grantham said. "It really kind of stunts your development in the 3-4 because you really have to change how you play everything. By going to a bowl game, it’s going to give us extra practice to get back to doing the things that we’re going to see for the next 11, 12, 13 games next year. I’m excited about that."
The Yellow Jackets rolled up 512 yards of total offense – the most the Bulldogs have given up in a game since a 24-10 loss to Florida in 2001, when the Gators totaled 584 yards and quarterback Rex Grossman passed for 407.
Georgia Tech’s 411 rushing yards were the most the Bulldogs have yielded since Vanderbilt’s 415 on Oct. 15, 1994, and the third most a Bulldogs’ team has ever surrendered.
"The offensive line did a good job blocking," Georgia Tech A-back Roddy Jones said. "They gave us holes to run through and had control of the line of scrimmage."
With one game left to play – expected to be the Liberty Bowl against either Central Florida or Southern Methodist – Georgia ranks seventh in the Southeastern Conference and 59th in the nation in rushing defense at 149.2 yards per game. That’s 23 yards per game more than the Bulldogs allowed last season when they ranked 36th in the nation and third in the SEC against the run.
That slide came after Georgia lost defensive tackles Geno Atkins, Jeff Owens and Kade Weston to the NFL and the Bulldogs’ switched to Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme.
After Georgia Tech ran 92 offensive plays Saturday, Georgia players had the three highest tackle outputs this week in the SEC. Defensive end Abry Jones, linebacker Akeem Dent and nose DeAngelo Tyson all had 16 .
Jones was named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week Monday along with Auburn’s Nick Fairley. Jones also had two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
"We didn’t do a lot of subbing in this game," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "A lot of guys had to suck it up and play until the end."
Georgia Tech ran the ball 77 times – the second most in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season behind Air Force’s 80 for 373 yards in a 48-23 win Nov. 13 against New Mexico.
"Really, the only teams that run it are the military schools," Grantham said of Tech’s style of option. "Air Force, Army and Navy. Really, it’s a wishbone. They do a nice job running the wishbone package."
Fullback Anthony Allen rushed for 166 yards on 29 carries, quarterback Tevin Washington had 73 on 23 carries and Jones accounted for 63 yards on nine.
"If we don’t put the ball on the ground, I don’t know if they ever stop us," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, whose team lost three fumbles.
"We didn’t stop the dive as well as I hoped we could," Richt said. "If you don’t stop them up the gut, it’s hard to stop them period. But we rose to the occasion. We turned some turnovers into points. In the end, it worked out."
The 92 plays run by Georgia Tech were its most since it had 94 on Nov. 9, 2000 against Virginia and tied for the most against Georgia in Richt’s 10 seasons.
Georgia is 2-0 under Richt when opponents run 90 plays or more. Texas A&M ran 92 in the Independence Bowl last year in a 44-20 Georgia win.