The Big Five – Georgia Tech

Home >

The Big Five – Georgia Tech

[su_spacer size=”20″]
Georgia coach Mark Richt greets Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. (Photo John Kelley)
Georgia coach Mark Richt greets Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson.
(Photo John Kelley)
[su_spacer size=”40″] Like their state rivals over in Athens, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have experienced a most disappointing 2015 football season.
[su_spacer size=”40″] But even more so for the Jackets of Coach Paul Johnson. In 2014, Georgia Tech fashioned one of best campaigns in Johnson’s now eight years at the GT helm, going 11-3 on the season, winning the ACC Coastal Division title with a 6-2 league mark before being nipped by just 37-35 by Florida State in the ACC championship game and then rebounding to run over Mississippi State 49-34 in the Orange Bowl. Of course, prior to facing the Seminoles for the conference title game, there was also that big 30-24 overtime win over the rival Bulldogs in Athens.
[su_spacer size=”20″]
And with five offensive starters, including All- ACC 2nd-Team quarterback Justin Thomas, returning to this year’s 2015 edition along with eight returning defensive regulars, hopes were high for the Yellow Jackets to again make a bona fide run at the ACC championship.
[su_spacer size=”40″] But, that hasn’t happened as Tech prepares to welcome 8-3 Georgia to Bobby Dodd Stadium/ Grant Field for Saturday’s season finale. With an inconsistent running game this season in their patented triple-option attack as well as a leaky defense at times, the Jackets have floundered to just a 3-8 season record and a final 1-7 ACC mark, seeing the program’s 18-year consecutive bowl appearances come to an end.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Tech opened the season with consecutive routs of little Alcorn State (69-6) and Tulane (65-10) before then suffering through five consecutive losses, to Notre Dame (30-22), Duke (34-20), North Carolina (38-31), unbeaten Clemson (43-24) and Pittsburgh (31-28). The Jackets then entered their Oct. 24 Homecoming game with 9th-ranked Florida State and proceeded to stun the Seminoles 22-16 as defensive back Lance Austin returned Patrick Gamble’s block of an FSU field goal 78 yards for the game-winning score, on the very final play as Tech students stormed the field in instant celebration. But that stirring victory didn’t give the Jackets any momentum the next three outings as they fell to Virginia (27-21), were nipped by Virginia Tech (23-21) and then lost this past weekend to the also struggling Hurricanes by 38-21 in Miami.
[su_spacer size=”40″] After running for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns and also passing for 1,719 yards and 18 scores in 2014, Jacket junior QB Thomas (5-11, 189) has rushed for just 491 yards this season while passing for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. And after leading Tech on an opening 62-yard touchdown drive against the Canes, Thomas was lost for the rest of the game with an undisclosed injury. Redshirt freshman QB Matthew Jordan (6-2, 215) then played the remainder of the contest in Thomas’ absence. Tech’s leading rusher is freshman B-back Marcus Marshall (5-10, 209), the younger brother of Bulldogs’ tailback Keith Marshall who has run for 609 yards and a 7.9-yard average per trip. The Jackets’ top two receivers are sophomore Ricky Jeune (6-3, 212) and junior Micheal Summers (6-1, 200).
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia Tech’s defensive leaders include junior linebacker PJ. Davis (5-11, 229) and senior safety Jamal Golden (6-0, 195).
[su_spacer size=”40″] So, with the Yellow Jackets not making it back to the ACC title game this season and also missing a bowl game for the first time since 1996, the State Championship game against the Bulldogs Saturday will be Tech’s last chance to gain a measure of respectability for this dismal ‘015 season. And here are the Big Five factors the Jackets must accomplish to frustrate Georgia for a second consecutive season:
[su_spacer size=”40″] 1. Above all, kick that triple option into high gear again
[su_spacer size=”40″] Tech led the country in rushing last season with its usual 300-yards-plus average but has run for only 262 yards per outing this season. But the Jackets did go for 314 vs. Miami, so punish UGA’s much-improved defense with the run and thus hog the ball much of the afternoon. And most of all, don’t turn it over like against Miami when Tech had a whopping nine fumbles, losing two of them and also throwing two interceptions.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 2. Run it well, then sting the Dawgs’ secondary up top
[su_spacer size=”40″] Jackets, if you do have success pounding the rock Saturday, there are bound to be some big-play pass opportunities when Georgia sells out to stop the run.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 3. Recall that FSU defensive performance
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia’s passing game has been sporadic all year so go after Sony Michel and the UGA tailbacks; indeed, just play defense like you Jackets did that evening when you held the ‘Noles’ offense to a mere 16 points.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 4. Be aggressive and get your fans into the game early on
[su_spacer size=”40″] Don’t let the favored Bulldogs bolt into an early lead before their always-sizable crowd that shows up at Bobby Dodd. Hit Georgia in the mouth at the outset and let the Dawgs know they’re in for a 60-minute fight, just like last year.
[su_spacer size=”40″] 5. Bottom line, halt Mark Richt’s unbeaten win streak on your field
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Georgia coach has gone 7-0 at Bobby Dodd in his 14 years at the Bulldogs’ helm. What other motivation do you Jackets need to do something about this embarrassing home showing against Georgia?
[su_spacer size=”40″]
[su_spacer size=”40″] Make sure to check out Bulldawg Illustrated’s latest print edition: Get the Cup Back, digital issue available for free online. CLICK HERE.
[su_spacer size=”120″]

share content

Author /

Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.