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September 14, 2012Heading into week three of their 2012 campaign, Georgia Tech has faced two teams on opposite ends of the talent spectrum. In week one, the Yellow Jackets went toe-to-toe with perennial ACC powerhouse Virginia Tech, a game that Georgia Tech undoubtedly should have won. The following week, the Yellow Jackets ran wild on Presbyterian, a game in which the Georgia Tech ground game piled up 469 yards en route to a 59-3 win.
This week, as much as any other will, exemplifies a "must win" game for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech absolutely cannot afford to drop to 0-2 in the ACC Costal, a record that will surely seal their fate in the division race extremely early in the season. Moreover, while last week's 56-point win over Presbyterian was expected, I feel it was a confidence booster for the Georgia Tech offense.
Virginia comes to Atlanta tomorrow afternoon in a must-win matchup for the Yellow Jackets, and revenge is surely in store.
Keys to the Game:
Defense Don't Change a Thing
The Georgia Tech defense has been brilliant in Al Groh's third year on the Flats. Groh's 3-4 defense, which ranked second in the ACC and 28th nationally in pass defense a year ago, seems as if it will continue its steady improvement this season. Anyone who watches Georgia Tech football knows that if we can grind it out on the ground and dominate time of possession, we usually win the football game. If Tech's defense can shut down the Cavalier offense and stay off the field, the Yellow Jackets have a great chance of winning this game against a Virginia team that hasn't looked very good on offense this season. Granted, they are pretty efficient through the air, but they looked terrible last week rushing the ball against Penn State, recording an atrocious 32 yards on 25 carries in a lucky, for lack of a better word, 17-16 win in Charlottesville. I think our defensive line will have no problem shutting down Virginia's ground game, which makes stopping their passing attack even more important. As mentioned earlier, Georgia Tech's defense, specifically the secondary, continues to show improvement, and hopefully will improve even more tomorrow afternoon. Not giving up the big play will go a long way in deciding if Georgia Tech can even up its ACC record tomorrow afternoon.
Rack up the Rushing Yards-
Yes, I realize that this a key to every single game Georgia Tech is going to play. I'm just still not sure of how good our ground game is yet. Against Virginia Tech, the Yellow Jackets recorded 192 yards rushing, which is a relatively low number considering we ran it 55 times. Virginia Tech does have one of the best defensive fronts that Georgia Tech will see this year, but that performance just wasn't particularly striking. Then, last week, it was like the Yellow Jackets were running the football against no defense. Georgia Tech recorded a stellar 8.1 yards per carry and six touchdowns on the ground. Therefore, the two defenses the Yellow Jackets have faced so far are, as earlier mentioned, on very different ends of the talent spectrum. Virginia's run defense has only surrendered 159 yards on 63 carries so far this season, an astounding average of only 2.5 yards per carry. This defense is somewhere between Virginia Tech and Presbyterian, albeit much closer to the Hokies, and should pose an interesting challenge for Georgia Tech tomorrow afternoon.
Respond Appropriately to the "Must-Win" Scenario-
All would agree Paul Johnson included, that starting 0-2 in the ACC makes the road to the conference championship game nearly impossible. If that were to take place, each other team in the ACC Coastal would most likely have to lose three times. Not going to happen, right? I know. That makes tomorrow afternoon's game of the highest importance. Georgia Tech simply has to win. The Yellow Jackets need to put this game away early, and leave no chance for the Cavaliers to hang around and be there in the fourth quarter. They have done that in years past, most recently last season in Charlottesville when Virginia handed Georgia Tech its first loss, and it hasn't ended well for the Jackets. Georgia Tech needs to put them away early and leave no doubt.
Stat of the Week: 768
Georgia Tech's offense racked up 712 total yards last week against Presbyterian, a number that is not unprecedented. Last season in week three against Kansas, the Georgia Tech offense ran rampant on the Jayhawks's defense, recording a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of which were rushing. A duplication of last season's week three would be welcomed in week three of Georgia Tech's 2012 season.
I think Georgia Tech is superior on both sides of the ball, and I see the Jackets being too much for the Cavaliers to handle.
Georgia Tech 34, Virginia 20
The official twitter hashtag for tomorrow afternoon's battle between the Yellow Jackets and the Cavaliers is #GTUVA12.
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