Georgia Tech’s play-action passing poses yet another concern for Virginia defense


Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington has shown to be capable of some big plays through the air. (Scott Cunningham/GETTY IMAGES)

But this year, Georgia Tech’s passing attack should not be overlooked. Only three ACC quarterbacks have thrown for more touchdowns than Yellow Jackets redshirt junior Tevin Washington. A threat on the ground, Washington also has demonstrated an ability to hurt opposing defenses through the air, and that, as Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid said Tuesday, “scares you to death.”

Washington is averaging just 175.3 passing yards per game and is completing 50.7 percent of his throws. But when Washington does connect with one of his receivers, a big play frequently follows. Washington has completed passes that have gained 82, 73, 67, 66 and 52 yards this season.

For comparison’s sake, Virginia sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco’s longest pass completion to date this season gained 46 yards. True freshman David Watford’s longest pass play gained 27 yards.

Reid described Washington as a “very poised, outstanding athlete” who has a “great throwing motion” and has “some very, talented, talented receivers” at his disposal. Georgia Tech’s leading receiver is junior Stephen Hill (6 feet 5, 206 pounds), who is averaging 32.5 yards per reception.

“What [Georgia Tech’s] offense does to you is it gets you thinking run, run, run, and then bang! Play-action pass,” Reid said. “It’s a great scheme.”

Washington’s passing accuracy has been down in recent weeks. He completed 6 of 19 passes (31.6 percent) for 114 yards and an interception during last week’s 21-16 win over Maryland.

During a 45-35 win Oct. 1 at North Carolina State, Washington completed 4 of 12 passes (33.3 percent) for 117 yards. But half of Washington’s completions against the Wolfpack resulted in touchdowns.

Of the 11 touchdowns the Virginia defense has allowed this season, seven came through the air. So while the Cavaliers are giving up just 195.4 passing yards per game (No. 3 in the ACC), Reid knows full well they’ll have to be mindful Saturday of Georgia Tech’s capabilities passing the ball, as well as running it.

“I just know from a passing efficiency standpoint, [Washington] can hit the long one,” Reid said. “We’ve all seen it. I mean, right on the money. He can throw the out [pattern], which shows that he’s got a very strong arm. And he can throw on the run. We’ll be challenged on that every play.”

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