Ga. Tech Brings Wrecking Crew

KaMichael Hall chases Sean Glennon
Virginia Tech's Sean Glennon is one of several quarterbacks this season to be frequently chased by Georgia Tech defenders like KaMichael Hall. (Tracy A. Woodward - The Washington Post)
By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 6, 2006

KaMichael Hall found out what playing for Jon Tenuta is like during his freshman season. Hall, now a senior outside linebacker at Georgia Tech, asked his defensive coordinator a question while Tenuta explained a certain coverage.

The coach snapped, as he is wont to do when freshmen ask questions at the wrong time. He lit into Hall, which the freshman didn't understand until the next time Tenuta explained the coverage. He had no questions.

"Probably as a freshman, you hate" playing for Tenuta, Hall said. "As you grow older and you understand what's going on, you love it."

The rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and some of the country's best teams, are discovering what playing against Tenuta is like, and finding the experience not nearly as enjoyable. Using Tenuta's scheme, a defense that confounds offenses with a complex system of zone blitzes and overwhelms them with lightning-quick pass rushers, Georgia Tech has become a favorite in the ACC while terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.

"I'm still sore," Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon said on Wednesday, four days after the then-No. 11 Hokies lost, 38-27, to Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets' defense held Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, then a Heisman Trophy favorite, to 246 yards passing while battering him like a speed bag in a 14-10, season-opening loss Sept. 2.

The key?

"We're doing what Coach Tenuta is telling us to do," Hall said. "That's about it."

By doing so, No. 18 Georgia Tech has assumed control of the ACC's Coastal Division just two games into the conference schedule. It is the only team in the division without a conference loss, and its biggest challenger was Virginia Tech, against which it now holds an important tiebreaker. Unless Miami turns its season around, Georgia Tech likely will play in Jacksonville, Fla., for the ACC championship on Dec. 2.

Aside from the play of standout wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Yellow Jackets largely can thank Tenuta's scheme, one so complex that Georgia Tech's defensive playbook is nearly as thick as its offensive counterpart. The abridged version of the text: "Blitz."

Virginia Tech tackle Brandon Frye guessed the Yellow Jackets run "at least a dozen" different blitz packages. Hall chuckled at the estimate.

"They don't need to guess, because you're wasting your time," Hall said. "I can't even tell you. There's a lot."

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