Georgia’s options limited when it comes to stopping Tech’s offense

Georgia and Butkus Award finalist Jarvis Jones will be chasing bigger, faster players in trying to stop Georgia Tech's spread option than they were with Georgia Southern. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia and Butkus Award finalist Jarvis Jones will be chasing bigger, faster players in trying to stop Georgia Tech's spread option than they were with Georgia Southern. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Georgia did a pretty good job of slowing down Georgia Southern’s spread-option attack this past Saturday. The Eagles managed 302 rushing yards and 19 first downs. But that turned out to be more annoying than agonizing as the Bulldogs cruised to a 45-14 victory.

Enter Georgia Tech, which runs essentially the same offense. But any notion that Georgia will be dealing with the same challenge is incorrect.

Yellow Jackets’ coach Paul Johnson is considered the modern-day guru of the spread option. And with the athletes Tech will bring to Sanford Stadium, for Georgia’s defenders it will be like going from minor league to major-league pitching.

“He knows it so well that he doesn’t even need a call sheet,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of Johnson. “It’s in his brain and he’s seen just about everything under the sun as far as people trying to defend it. When he sees something, he knows where to go next, and that’s the beauty of the system that they have. They know what to do to counteract what a defense is trying to do to stop something or slow it down.”

There’s that, and then there’s this: While Georgia Southern’s offensive line was under-sized, Tech’s averages 6-foot-3 and 297 pounds. The Yellow Jackets feature a B-back in David Sims, who weighs 222 pounds, a bevy of A-backs who can fly and two quarterbacks who can run and pass.

In all, the Jackets count 11 different players who are averaging 5 yards per carry or better. They’re third in the nation in rushing at 324.9 yards per game and have run the football for more yards than any FBS team in the nation since 2008.

“They’re different,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “Formationally they’re different. Conceptually, as far as trying to get the ball on the edge with some of the options, they’re the same. But it’s like any defense or offense; you kind of take on the personality of the guy doing it. And Paul does a good job.”

Georgia has gotten better at facing Johnson’s option, though it has yet to shut it down. The Bulldogs gave up 409 yards rushing the first time they saw it in 2008 and lost 45-42. Since then, Georgia has allowed 205, 411 and 243 yards rushing, respectively, in the last three meetings and won by an average of 9.3 points.

“Anytime you do something, continuity is good,” Grantham said. “The more you see things the better you are at it. And I think the players understand it, too, from the standpoint we got to do it last week. But it’s going to be a challenge because, if you don’t execute, you’re going to give up explosive plays.”

Healthy pack of Dogs

Georgia has been somewhat unlucky in that it has lost three starters to season-ending injuries — receiver Marlon Brown, receiver Michael Bennett (knee) and linebacker Chase Vasser (shoulder) — and another for an extended period (defensive end Abry Jones, five games, ankle surgery). But the Bulldogs arrive at the 12th game of the season an otherwise healthy team.

Richt confirmed following Wednesday’s practice that the Bulldogs will go into the Tech game with roughly the same lineup they have the last two games with the addition of starting right guard Chris Burnette. Burnette missed the last two games with a shoulder injury.

“We’ve had no issues that I know of,” Richt said. “I just walked off the field with Ron and he didn’t mention anything to me, so that probably means nothing today.”

Thanksgiving logistics

Georgia practiced in full pads Wednesday will again Thursday morning before turning the Bulldogs loose to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. And when that happens, Richt said he doesn’t want the players thinking about football.

“What I want them to do is focus until about 10 a.m. (Thursday) morning,” Richt said. “Then I’ll tell them, ‘enjoy Thanksgiving. Think about everything you’re thankful for and enjoy the day.’ It’s healthy to take a break.”

Richt said the Bulldogs will conduct a rare Friday practice to make sure they get their minds back on business. “I want to get them moving around after all they might eat and get their brains locked into the game plan and such. We’ll do about a 50-minute practice that will allow us to hopefully get our minds back on our business.”

Georgia also altered its schedule because Saturday’s game is a noon kickoff. The Bulldogs practiced at noon Wednesday, went in the morning on Thursday and will go early again on Friday.

“We wanted to try to get them up about the time they’ll get up game day,” Richt said “We just want to get their bodies used to waking up in the morning and moving, concentrating and focusing on plays during the time the game will be played.”

Twenty-one seniors to be honored

Twenty-one UGA football players will be honored in the Bulldogs’ annual Senior Day ceremony at 11:46 a.m. Saturday. Kickoff for the regular-season finale against Tech is set for 12:01 p.m. (ESPN).

The seniors are: Taylor Bradberry, Winder; Marlon Brown, Memphis; Luis Capella, Augusta; Sanders Commings, Augusta; Scott Eichler, Oakwood; Reuben Faloughi, Martinez; Ty Frix, Calhoun; Michael Gilliard, Valdosta; John Jenkins, Meriden, Conn.; Abry Jones, Warner Robins; Tavarres King, Mount Airy; Jamie Lindley, Savannah; Ricky Lowe, Duluth; Bacarri Rambo, Donalsonville.; Ben Reynolds, Bainbridge; Christian Robinson, Norcross; Dustin Royston, Royston; Richard Samuel, Cartersville, Ga.; Branden Smith, Atlanta, Ga.; Cornelius Washington, Hephzibah, Ga.; Shawn Williams, Damascus, Ga.

Etc. . . .

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is included among 29 nominees for the 2012 Broyles Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top assistant coach in college football. Under Bobo’s guidance, the Bulldogs have already set a school record for touchdowns in a season (55) and is on pace to break long-standing UGA marks for total offense and points per game for a season. Also among the nominees are Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and Alabama special teams coach Bobby Williams. . . . Georgia junior Jarvis Jones was named one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. The other finalists are: Oregon’s Dion Jordan, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosley and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o are the other finalists for the Butkus Award. The Butkus Foundation will announce the winner during the first week of December.



129 comments Add your comment

Max Sizemore

November 21st, 2012
4:48 pm

That’s an awful lot of losses on the defensive side for next season.

bham dawg

November 21st, 2012
5:07 pm

just reload Max a lot of talent waiting to get the opportunity to play

Gary

November 21st, 2012
5:22 pm

Nobody can stop that GT offense, right Middle TN?

Game day

November 21st, 2012
5:55 pm

Ready 4 some football

Game day

November 21st, 2012
5:55 pm

Ready 4 some football

38-0

November 21st, 2012
6:00 pm

NERDSSSSSSSS!

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned once by Bill King & Chip Towers but only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

November 21st, 2012
6:06 pm

Great headline. Cometimes it pay to proofdeed.

RealityDawg

November 21st, 2012
6:13 pm

It’s men versus boys folks. The men will win.
Woof!!!

Discount DoubleDawg

November 21st, 2012
6:22 pm

proofread your own handle smart guy

Nerds

November 21st, 2012
6:32 pm

The Joke by Coke. What do you call a good looking girl at tech……a visitor.

Put in Timeout by Ken Sugiura,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned once by Bill King & Chip Towers but only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

November 21st, 2012
6:45 pm

What Discount Double?

Put in Timeout by Ken Sugiura,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned once by Bill King & Chip Towers but only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

November 21st, 2012
6:49 pm

Silver Polished
China all cleaned and waiting for Niece to set the table
Sweet Potatoes precooking
Dressing all mixed and ready to be cooked tomorrow
Pecan Pie in the oven
My work for the night is done

GATOR WATCHER

November 21st, 2012
6:50 pm

UH OH Georgia Fan. Your worst nightmare is coming: Georgia loses to GT and/or Bama; ND loses to So. Cal; Florida moves up to #2 – and into the national title game – all without having to beat Bama and after having lost to Georgia. #25 Georgia moves on to play Maryland in the Gator Bowl.

Discount DoubleDawg

November 21st, 2012
6:55 pm

timeout- YOU were the one criticizing Chip… not me. If you are going to criticize such things don’t be shocked to be called out for the same mistakes… You won’t hear me discussing grammar on a football blog.

Palmetto State Dawg

November 21st, 2012
7:00 pm

Hey Chip, in all your praise of Tech’s option in the article above, you failed to remind the readers that they lost to Middle Tenn State. Tech’s defense us atrocious. Dawgs roll!

Joey Shabadoo

November 21st, 2012
7:08 pm

Gator Watcher, keep dreaming. You must of moved out to CO, and already samping some of the now legal killer green stuff.

UGA Season Ticket Holder since 1986

November 21st, 2012
7:12 pm

Personally, I favor Jarvis Jones or the DE/Outside linebacker knocking the bleep out of the pitchman on every play and trusting your 10 teammates to run to the ball and knock the bleep out of the person carrying it.

Slayer

November 21st, 2012
7:29 pm

Maybe Gator boy we win sec title and whip gators in national title game.

kingdaddy

November 21st, 2012
7:36 pm

I trust UGAs Offense to be better than their Defense. Can’t stop the option, but you can slow it. No way they shut down our Big O…

dawggirl

November 21st, 2012
7:38 pm

Gator Watcher, you sound awfully confident. Aren’t you worried about your offense? With or without Driskell, it’s not exactly lighting up the scoreboard.

dawggirl

November 21st, 2012
7:40 pm

Sorry, Driskel. An extra “l” got in there somehow.

kingdaddy

November 21st, 2012
7:42 pm

Slayer
I don’t care who we play, but that last UGA/UF game was really some kind if fugly, lol…GO DAWGS…BEAT TECH…ONE AT A TIME…

SEC Fan

November 21st, 2012
7:54 pm

Tech’s not very good this year.

Then again, neither is Kentucky… Or Baylor.

EE AT GT

November 21st, 2012
8:01 pm

GT defense not so good. I’m going to be watching with only one eye open. Actually, what I find is better is to Tivo, then fast forward through our defensive series. Hoping for 60-50 GT win :)

PIERCE COUNTY DAWG

November 21st, 2012
8:06 pm

GATOR WATCHER DREAM ON. YOU WOULD GET DRUMMED IF YOU MADE IT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP,I SAID IF. YOU STRUGGLED TO PUT AWAY THE DIVISION 11 TEAM LAST WEEK. GATORS ARE WEAK!!!!!

PIERCE COUNTY DAWG

November 21st, 2012
8:09 pm

GATOR WATCHER IS DRINKING COOL AIDE. NOTHING WOULD BE BETTER THAN WHIPPING THE GATORS AGAIN THIS YEAR.

mgdawg

November 21st, 2012
8:13 pm

I really hope richard samuel gets the ovation that he deserves. Most other players in his situation would have refused the moves, or simply transferred away.

StingerSplash

November 21st, 2012
8:16 pm

Georgia did a “pretty good” job of slowing down 63-full scholarship FCS Georgia Southern’s offense to 302 rushing yards and 19 first downs? What would have a “bad” job entailed? Or a “less than adequate” performance?
In the three games since Tech’s 08 win, Georgia jumped out to a lead early, more or less negating Tech’s run first offense. That 4-bill plus number does kind of stick out, no?
Stopping Tech’s offense isn’t so much a function of the defense as it is the offense. Either control the all or score quickly and early.

Rabid_Dawg

November 21st, 2012
8:19 pm

You’d better just worry about your own team GayturdWatcher. FSU is going to destroy Florida. Florida’s offense will be in total disarray the entire game. FSU 24 Florida 3

SEC Fan

November 21st, 2012
8:25 pm

Aside from Clemson, FSU has played no football team of note. They lost to a lousy NC State team that was absolutely demolished by Derek Dooley’s Vols.

Dawg89

November 21st, 2012
8:36 pm

Based on this article, GT should be undefeated and No. 1 in the BCS. Paul Johnson is so brilliant that he doesn’t need a play sheet. Well, maybe if he used one, they would be better. Are they even in the “others receiving votes” category of any poll? If UGA can’t beat tech, then there shouldn’t be any whining about opportunities lost. Now is the time for this team to step up and play to their full potential rather than playing down to the competition. This game shouldn’t even be close.

ROLL DAWGS!

November 21st, 2012
8:45 pm

Dawgs will roll over the Bugs! Bug defense ATROCIOUS! Can’t stop a common cold! LOL The flu! Seriously, the Dawgs will destroy the Bugs! NO COMPETITION AT ALL! They are just PITIFUL!

superDawgW/slaw

November 21st, 2012
8:57 pm

Nerd,
The bathrooms need cleaning.

Last Chance

November 21st, 2012
9:02 pm

Dawgs better win this one. They won’t win the next two.

jan kemp

November 22nd, 2012
1:21 am

Stop using all caps you bunch of inbred sister screwing hicks.

Win or lose, you will always be a loser superdawgslaw.

heeldawg

November 22nd, 2012
2:58 am

@Gator Watcher: I’d worry about my own team if I were you. Even with your starting QB back, you’ll be lucky to score more than 10 against FSU. I doubt that will be enough to win…this year…

@StingerSplash: I was at the GSU game. Many of the Eagles’ yards on the ground came late in the game after the Dawgs had a huge lead. GSU’s QB, a converted RB, simply cannot pass the ball–unlike Tech. I think the Jackets will move the ball against the Dawgs–but I don’t think they will be able to move it enough, or score enough, to win. The Tech pass defense is going against the number one-rated passing QB in the country. That could be a recipe for ugliness.

@EE at GT: No way Tech scores 60 against the Dawgs, who are allowing only 18 ppg (and 8.25 ppg for the last four games). I think the Dawgs will exceed their scoring average against a mediocre Tech defense, scoring about 45 points. Tech will be held below their average and will score about 24. And there’s your prediction: Dawgs, 45-24. Unless there is an unprecedented flurry of turnovers, that’s the way I think the ball will bounce this weekend.

Destiny

November 22nd, 2012
3:20 am

Wreck tech……..One day away!

gomdawg

November 22nd, 2012
5:33 am

GT has not faced a defense like THE DAWGS ALL YEAR.

DAWGS 45 GT 21

CHDawg

November 22nd, 2012
7:06 am

I have tremendous respect for CPJ and the Tech offense; they are very capable, exciting, and I really enjoy watching them execute (for the rest of the year). The whole team usually plays their best game against UGA. They gave their players expensive rings and who knows what else to commemorate the victory in ‘08, so it is huge to them. I look for a few keys–are we blocking, protecting and opening holes? Is the D amped up like the Gator game, or managing problems like the GSU game in the first half? Are we winning the turnover battle, or at least not losing it? If we handle those three areas, it is going to be very, very hard for Tech to beat us, even though they will probably score some points, and could give us a scare. If I were impartial, the one difference Georgia has this year is having worked on this offense for two weeks; of course, I’m not impartial. Go Dawgs. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and let’s hope nobody gets hurt, and that the old fashioned hate is tempered by some good sportsmanship!

Spike

November 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

Middle Tennessee State took Techs’ lunch money.

'94 UGA Alumnus

November 22nd, 2012
8:12 am

Keep dreaming Gator Watcher. FSU is going put a smack down on the gators this weekend and you can bank on it.

zbulldawg

November 22nd, 2012
8:26 am

LET THE BIG DAWG EAT

RedandBlackDAWG

November 22nd, 2012
8:38 am

GATOR WATCHER

November 21st, 2012
6:50 pm

How are you going to manage that after you lose to FSU this week? I guess they teach math. a little differently down there so slow folks like you can catch on.

RedandBlackDAWG

November 22nd, 2012
8:41 am

StingerSplash

November 21st, 2012
8:16 pm

You will be lucky to score 14 points against the UGA defense. The DAWGS on the other hand, may have to stop at 45 to not embarrass you once again.

1969 Graduate

November 22nd, 2012
8:45 am

I am a graduate of both the University of Georgia and Middle Tennessee State University, holding undergraduate degrees from Athens and Murfreesboro. As such, I am very excited going into this game against the Trade School. I never discount NATS’s chances against our Dawgs. It’s a bitter rivalry game. The bugs sometimes play way above their ACC station in Athens. They love to ruin a great UGA season. Etc. Besides that, Georgia Tech is playing pretty well, and they have a pretty good football team right now.

However, assuming we show up, we are going to make them wish they were playing MTSU again!

Go, Georgia Bulldogs!

RMikel58

November 22nd, 2012
9:28 am

First off PAUL JOHNSON has alot of problems going into this game. How to stop 2 freshmen RB’s , a potential #1 NFL QB draftee , a talented corp of WR’s and TE’s.
Thats just on Offense!
So to prevent Techs defensive weaknesses from being exposed theyll have to blitz and often.
Ever since Bobo started utilizing the TE’s it has given Georgia more opportunities for big gains which was brilliant on Bobo’s part.
Then PAUL JOHNSON has to hope and pray his offense doesnt have to play catchup football if they get down by 3 TD’s.
Tech is not a good come from behind team and if Tech has to drop their running game to try and catchup with solely passing, i think this will go in the Dawgs favor because Techs QB will force passes and likely throw interceptions.
The only chance Tech has in beating Georgia is if Georgia beats itself with giving Tech new life with penalties and turnovers.
If Georgia can think about those 2 facts during the game then Tech doesnt have a chance. Tech is so desperate in beating Georgia dont be suprised to see some trick plays during the game.
Tech doesnt care about their 6-5 record or going to the ACC Championship, just beating Georgia is their wish.
I expect Tech to come out fired up and ready to play saturday but by the 2nd quarter i think they’ll get a letdown after GEORGIA is 10-14 pts ahead.
No jitters Dawgs, its not who barks the loudest its the “bite” that counts.
Be all business and be good sportsmen and dont do foolish things just to irritate their players and fans, just go out and be professional and act like men and finish the drill.
Tech will be waiting on something to happen so that they can take over the momentum, i assure you.
Keep your heads and stay in the zone and dont allow their players to get into your heads.

james

November 22nd, 2012
9:34 am

As a Tech fan I think the game will be really close,until the kickoff then Georgia is gonna kick our butt.

Bamajacket

November 22nd, 2012
9:53 am

The game doesn’t always go to the swiftest or the strongest, ….but that’s the way to bet….or something like that. Georgia has superior athletes, or at least more of them. They have performed better against better competition. Our offense has been better of late, but…I don’t remember the last time Tech came from 2-3 TDs down to win. When given the opportunity, we usually puke it up. Defensively, I would love to say we can somehow contain UGAs passing game, and the two freshmen RBs. I would love to say it, but we haven’t shown it. I’m afraid for us to win, Georgia has to lose it. They are better than we are. But, Kansas State was better than Baylor. I’m not holding my breath. I hope it’s a great, competitive game, and nobody gets hurt. If we play well, and Georgia plays well, UGA by 2 TDs. If we don’t, I’ll be turning the game off early. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Paul in NH

November 22nd, 2012
10:18 am

Very few college teams come from 2 – 3 TDs down to win no matter what offense they run. Under Richt, UGA has never done it against anyone. GT has done it under Johnson – in Athens – but that is not going to happen this year. GT’s only chance is to score early and often and have Murray throw the ball to people in white and gold.

ARdawg

November 22nd, 2012
10:29 am

The GT defense is atrocious and that is putting it mildly. The Georgia offense barring completely laying an egg is going to embarrass the GT D. The Georgia defense is hitting on all cylinders and has a bone to pick with you guys. I think they’ll treat you pretty nasty. They might give up one TD but I doubt it unless it’s late. How’s your kicking game?