Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Key to beating Georgia Tech: Stop the Jackets on third down

This time last year, Georgia Tech was 6-1 and everybody was talking about how the Yellow Jacket offense was unstoppable, dominating in time of possession. Sound familiar?

So what happened in the next game? Tech played an inferior Virginia team and lost 24-17. The Cavaliers won the TOP battle 34 minutes to 26 minutes. How? They stopped Tech on third down (4-10 conversion).

A few weeks later, Tech lost again, this time to underdog North Carolina. How? The Tar Heels stopped Tech on third down (4-14) and slammed the door on fourth down (0-2) and subsequently won TOP by a margin of 32-28 minutes.

Earlier that season, Tech squeaked by Gardner Webb 10-7. How? The Bulldogs stopped Tech on third down (4-14) and hung tough on fourth down (1-2) and won TOP 33-27 minutes.

Of course, Tech finished its season with blowout wins over Miami and Georgia. In those games, the Jackets struggled in third down conversions but ripped off some long runs, forced their opponent to pass and play catchup, and won TOP.

Going into its bowl game, Tech was the hottest team in the nation. Unstoppable offense. But LSU whipped the Jackets, holding them to 3-15 on third down and 2-6 on fourth down, kept Tech from breaking long runs, and won time of possession.

So far this season, Tech has one loss and is a popular choice to run the table and win the ACC. But look at the one loss: Miami stopped Tech on third down (6-14) and fourth down (0-2) and won time of possession 34-26 minutes.

Every three or four games, Tech hits a hiccup, often against a seemingly outmatched opponent.

Sure, Vanderbilt's offense has to score some points. But Miss State, which scored a single TD against Vandy, scored 31 points earlier this season against the Jackets. The Commodores should move the ball more easily than they did last Saturday against South Carolina, which shut down Alabama's offense a week earlier.

The key in Nashville will be the Vandy defense. If the Commodores can stop Tech on third down and fourth and short, then they'll keep their defense off the field and give the offense chances to score. If that happens, anything can happen.

I think Vandy has a shot if Bruce Fowler's dice rolling is hot. And if Vandy can get some turnovers and get an early lead then Paul Johnson will take more chances on third and fourth down.

I'm not giving up on the Commodores. This one will be much closer than people think. Bobby Johnson and his staff have played Paul Johnson eight times and know his system as well as anybody.


Anonymous said...

So there is no chance...


Exactly. The key to beating Tech is for everybody — including them — to think there's no way they can lose.