Ever since Coach Paul Johnson came to Georgia Tech in 2008, any mention of his team undoubtedly included a nod to the one of a kind flexbone spread option offense he runs. When clicking, it’s difficult to beat and Johnson’s 22-1 record with the Yellow Jackets when scoring 30 or more points backs that up.
But slowing down senior quarterback Tevin Washington isn’t the recipe for success Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster will count on next Monday night when the Hokies open the regular season in a nationally televised game against the Yellow Jackets.
“They’re gonna move the ball against whoever they play,” Foster said recently. “The key to that game is to get your offense to be consistently good and to get them off the field. To score points or to get them behind, that gets them out of their element.”
There’s a reason Johnson has spent much of preseason telling reporters, “if you’re going to be good, you’ve got to have all three phases.” Georgia Tech gave up close to 360 yards per game last year and ranked 60th in the country by allowing 26.1 points per game. In addition, Johnson even hired a special teams coordinator for the first time this year.
But it’s the 3-4 scheme of Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh that will be under the spotlight. It’s Groh’s third year implementing the system, and the Yellow Jackets seem poised for a resurgence defensively with nine juniors and seniors atop the depth chart this season. But they’ll be short-handed initially since both former All-Met cornerback Louis Young and starting linebacker Daniel Drummond will not play next Monday at Lane Stadium.
Young was reportedly suspended two games, beginning with last year’s Sun Bowl, for selling his complimentary tickets to last year’s Georgia Tech-Georgia game. Drummond is serving a one-game suspension after pleading guilty in April to boating under the influence.
That’s not good news considering the Yellow Jackets’ track record coming from behind to win games.
Georgia Tech is 28-5 when leading or tied at halftime under Johnson, including an 8-0 mark last year (five losses: 2010 Kansas, VT and Air Force in 2010; Virginia and Georgia in 2008). Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets are 5-15 when trailing at halftime under Johnson (five Wins: Duke and Wake Forest in 2010; Florida State and Wake Forest in 2009; Boston College in 2008).
And while we’re debunking some myths about the Georgia Tech offense, it’s important to point out that the extra time Virginia Tech has had to prepare for the Yellow Jackets isn’t necessarily the sort of advantage many believe it to be. Last year Georgia Tech went 3-3 when teams had more than seven days to prepare. Under Johnson, the Yellow Jackets have won ten times when the opposing team has extra rest.
However, Johnson’s teams at Georgia Tech have yet to win a bowl game, suggesting that perhaps an extended period of preparation time leaves the Yellow Jackets vulnerable.
At least that’s what the Hokies are hoping for.