BYU is ranked eighth against the run, at 93.1 yards per game, along with 2.9 yards per carry. Georgia Tech has three games in a row against teams with highly-rated run defenses, as Maryland (sixth at 87.6 yards per game) and North Carolina (25th at 116.5) follow the Cougars.
How has Tech fared against top 25 run defenses?
Year Team Rank Avg. Total GT avg. Result
2011 Utah 20 113.5 326 316.5 L, 30-27 OT
2011 UGA 11 101.2 264 316.5 L, 31-17
2011 VT 14 104.1 281 316.5 L, 37-26
2010 NCSU 14 114.3 282 323.3 L, 45-28
2010 UNC 22 125.6 393 323.3 W, 30-24
2009 UNC 10 95.6 346 295.4 W, 24-7
2008 LSU 17 110.2 180 273.2 L, 38-3
2008 VT 14 104.4 289 273.2 L, 20-17
2008 BC 7 91.2 200 273.2 W, 19-16
A few things – One, the 3-6 record isn’t inspiring, though I’d attribute only a couple to an inability to run the ball. Two, Tech’s total in all instances but one (LSU) at least doubled the average. In some instances, particularly when Butch Davis was involved, Tech surpassed its own average.
Three, Tech’s poorest rushing games haven’t always been against top-ranked defenses. In 2011, Miami’s 68th-ranked run defense held Tech to 150 yards. Same deal in 2009, when the Hurricanes limited Tech to 159. That defense was 32nd against the run.
In 2008, Al Groh-coached Virginia held Tech to 196 rushing yards with a defense that finished the season ranked 72nd at 149.6 yards per game. (I’ve wondered if that game planted seeds in Paul Johnson’s head about Groh’s defensive ability. As I recall it, Tech had all manner of trouble moving the ball after the first quarter.)
That same year, Tech ran for 121 yards against Gardner-Webb, which finished 30th in FCS in rushing defense. The infamous Gardner-Webb game. If you’re wondering, and I’m sure you aren’t, the Bulldogs finished 5-6 that season. The Tech game was their best in terms of points (10) and yards allowed (199). The very next week, Presbyterian hit up Gardner-Webb for 492 yards in a 47-21 loss.
2. In the all-telling (that’s sarcasm) “How has Tech’s opponent done vs. similar offenses” category…
BYU played Air Force in 2010, losing 35-14. The Falcons rolled up 477 yards of offense, including 409 on the ground (nine of them supplied by Darius Jones, Roddy’s brother). Air Force was aided by three Cougars turnovers and held the ball for 36:59. That same Air Force team, you may recall, also defeated Tech in the Independence Bowl. BYU finished the season ranked 45th against the run.
Coincidentally, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall fired his defensive coordinator midway through that season. Mendenhall acts as the team’s defensive coordinator.
3. I read the Salt Lake Tribune game story from BYU’s loss to Notre Dame and was particularly amused by reader comments about quarterback Riley Nelson (who missed a pass that would have appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter) and backup James Lark. Perhaps you’ll notice something familiar about them.
Thanks for reading.