Coach Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets travel to Blacksburg, Va. to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Georgia Tech looks to rebound against the No. 23 ranked Hokies after a disappointing trip to Clemson where the Jackets fell 27-13 to the unranked Tigers. This week the Jackets must execute in three specific areas if they hope to come out of Thursday’s game with a win. These three things are keeping containment on Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, working senior B-back Anthony Allen into the game and shutting down Virginia Tech’s running back Darren Evans near the goal line.
Tech’s most pressing issue on Thursday will be shutting down the Hokie’s superstar Taylor. Taylor is not only is the leading passer on the team, with 1602 yards and 15 touchdowns, he also leads the team in rushing, with 527 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor is a sparkplug on offense for Virginia Tech, accounting for 18 of the team’s 34 touchdown’s this season. Tech’s outside linebackers, senior Anthony Egbuniwe and junior Stephen Sylvester, will have to keep Taylor between the hashes and funnel Taylor into the defensive line so he will not have the chance to hurt the Jackets on the ground once he decides to run with the ball.
The second key to the game will be for the Jackets and Head Coach Paul Johnson to pound Allen between the tackles to wear down the Hokies’ defense. This will also open up the running game for the stable of A-backs that Johnson employs each game.
The final key to the game for the Jackets will be to keep Virginia Tech from scoring in the red zone where Evans excels, racking up nine touchdowns this season. This job falls to the defensive line trio of juniors Jason Peters and Logan Walls and sophomore Izaan Cross. The three big men will have to get off the ball quickly and push the Virginia Tech’s offensive linemen into the backfield and stop Evans short of the goal line.
For the Hokies to win their seventh straight game and stay ranked, the Hokies will have to take advantage of Georgia Tech’s thin secondary, keep their offense on the field and take advantage of Taylor’s many skills.
Taylor will have to pick and choose his spots early and often against a thin Georgia Tech defense. Taylor could have more success than his 200.2 yards per game through the air would show against the Jackets. The Tech defensive backfield tends to play back off their receivers when the linebackers pinch in toward the defensive line, especially starting senior corners Mario Butler and Dominique Reese. Taylor could also use that tendency to sprint toward the sideline should he get good blocks downfield from his receivers.
Ball control will be another important factor if the Hokies are to be successful. Virginia Tech will try to control the ball and keep the recently quiet Jackets offense on the bench. Once again, Evans will play a factor in Virginia Tech’s success as he will get carry after carry to set up Taylor’s unique talents. Evans has rushed for 447 yards and nine touchdowns. Evans has not fumbled the ball all season, so expect the Hokies to give him the ball in short-yardage situations.
The final factor for the Hokies will be to let Taylor use his explosive skill set to hurt the Jackets, who tend to get hurt late in plays against mobile quarterbacks. Along with his legs, Taylor has a strong arm that he uses to throw the ball all around the field, completing passes to 15 different receivers, including two who have over 300 yards this season and one who has over 500. Taylor’s decision making will be key as Georgia Tech’s defense will give him opportunities to give Virginia Tech the edge on offense. Taylor did not have a great game last time he visited Atlanta, but this time, he gets the benefit of playing at home.