Georgia Tech has had its issues stopping running backs this season.
Three of Tech’s opponents have posted career highs, culminating with Andre Ellington’s 166-yard effort in Clemson’s 27-13 win last weekend. Tech is allowing 162.2 rushing yards per game this season, eighth in the ACC. Of the four teams doing worse, only Duke has yet to play the Yellow Jackets and their run-focused offense.
Now, the Yellow Jackets will face Virginia Tech’s three-headed monster of Darren Evans, Ryan Williams and David Wilson, who have combined for more than 1,000 yards with 16 touchdowns this season.
Most of Ellington’s success against Tech started between the large tackles before he would cut back away from the flowing linebackers and safeties. His first touchdown, a 55-yard run, was a perfect example. he ran into the left side of Clemson’s line, broke through an arm tackle and then cut left to the sideline, outracing everyone to the end zone. Julian Burnett almost caught Ellington at the 10-yard line, but couldn’t push him out of bounds.
The Hokies’ trio is also good between the tackles, as are Miami’s and Georgia’s.
But to stop the first trio, inside linebackers coach Joe Speed and defensive end Izaan Cross said Tech’s front seven must adhere to technique and reads. Brad Jefferson said after the Clemson game that they were having trouble getting off blocks, which is a byproduct of those issues.
“I think it was amatter of seeing our reads true and coming downhill like we need to and meeting them like we are supposed to, and not let them get a step on us,” Speed said.
Cross took responsibility for Ellington’s first touchdown run, saying he missed the initial tackle, which allowed Ellington to run away from the rest of the defense.
“It’s not a physical thing, mental aspect or coaching aspect,” Cross said. “We have to be sound in our technique. It only takes one time for someone to break a long one on us.”
Cross and Speed said they have instructive film to watch and learn from. They don’t want another performance like that one.
“The key is to focus on ourselves and doing our assignments and making sure we are in the right place,” Speed said. “We need to take care of business in-house for things to come to fruition on the outside.”