This week UGA welcomes the G.N.A.T.S or Georgia North Avenue Trade School to Athens, although “welcome” is definitely the incorrect term. A series dating back to 1893 has a long and sorted past. First and foremost let me quickly dispel the notion I am partial or neutral. I loathe Georgia Tech and its fan base. Never has there been a more delusional group. For UGA fans, Tech holds little relevance. It’s the same thing as constantly beating your little cousin in backyard games; he holds that lone win over your head as a trophy for decades.
For any GT fans at the 2006 ACC Championship in Jacksonville vs. Wake Forest; yep, that was me with the UGA flag in the North end zone. It looked great on the Jumbo-tron. Where was Reggie Ball when you needed him…..?
Since 1964, Georgia Tech has won 12 times in this series……12 times. But yet a GT fan is perfectly content to bloviate about the “last win” by the Yellow Jackets as if any win negates the overall dominance the Dawgs have enjoyed in this series.
On to this year:
This weeks’ game features both programs on the down side of relevance within their own leagues but that doesn’t remove the importance for both teams and their fans. Georgia enters with a 5-6 record; last week enjoying their first bye after 11 consecutive games and needing a win to get bowl eligible. Georgia Tech enters at 6-5 coming off a win vs. Duke in Atlanta.
Rushing Offense: Edge Georgia Tech
As expected Georgia Tech is first in the country in Rushing Offense averaging 319 yards per game. Their Offense is certainly one-dimensional but that doesn’t negate the fact they can score quickly. Their plan is to run, run and run some more until the defense can stop it, not very exciting but effective.
UGA’s rushing has been a disappointment considering almost the entire O line was back and the two starting RB’s Washaun Ealey and Caleb King returned as well. Georgia runs at a paltry 147 ypg, ranking even behind pass happy Arkansas in the SEC. UGA will need some early rushing success to keep GT from dropping five or six players into pass coverage.
Rushing Defense: Edge Georgia
Georgia ranks #4 in the SEC Rush Defense giving up only 125 ypg. It is hard to simulate the look of a triple option team in practice. UGA has already played a few spread-type teams this year with varying degrees of success. It will be interesting to see how UGA Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham game plans for an offense he certainly didn’t see in his 12 years in the NFL.
Georgia Tech’s rush Defense gives up 171 ypg. They do allow almost 4.6 yards per rush. Most teams tend to pass vs. GT so they have less Rushing attempts against them to measure. They have surrendered 22 rushing TD’s, tied for 2nd in the ACC.
Passing Offense: Edge Georgia
Georgia has the best receiver in the country in AJ Green. Featuring him early and often with end arounds, reverses or quick screens should prove successful. A certain 1st round pick in next year’s NFL draft, he will create many headaches for the GT secondary. I’d expect to see double coverage’s when he lines up to the single receiver side of scrimmage. The Dawgs have plenty of other pass weapons in Kris Durham, Rantavious Wooten, Tavares King and Marlon Brown. Look for OC Mike Bobo to finally use the talented group of Tight Ends UGA has.
The Yellow Jackets rank dead last in the ACC averaging less than 100 yards per game. As much as the UGA secondary has a habit of making opponents QB’s look like Heisman candidates, they should be able to handle the few pass attempts GT does once in a while to justify having wide receivers on their team.
Passing Defense: Edge Even
Both teams rank mid-pack in their conferences and although UGA gives up fewer yards per game than GT, its spotty play at times in the form of sloppy tackling are an issue. Even UGA’s secondary should be able to handle GT’s once per game passing attack. The Yellow Jackets are going to have to defend AJ Green, ‘nuff said.
Special Teams: Edge Georgia
Georgia has the best tandem of kickers in the country in P Drew Butler and PK Blair Walsh. Brandon Boykin is always a threat to take back a kick off and I wouldn’t be surprised to see AJ Green handle a punt, kick off or both in this game.
Georgia has been much better at the turnover ratio this year. It focused on it specifically in the off-season and it has reaped dividends so far. Georgia Tech has given up and gained 19 turnovers so far this year. UGA has gained 20 and lost 12.
As with any rivalry, it is usually the unusual that comes into play. This is sure to be a raucous affair; a 7:45 pm start time which will allow the tailgaters’ time to sufficiently thin their blood prior to kick off. A need by UGA to notch that 6th win and get bowl eligible; GT wanting to spoil UGA’s season anyway they can. The prime time ESPN slot is a key to recruiting as well. The Dawgs win last year in Atlanta took some of the “sting” out of the 7-5 season, an equally needed shot in the arm this season would be a win vs. the Yellow Jackets in Athens.