A look at Tech

The Tigers found out Sunday that they will travel to Atlanta for a New Year's Eve showdown in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The two teams last met in Atlanta in 2000, when the Tigers (7-5, 3-5 SEC) topped the Yellow Jackets (9-3, 5-3 ACC) in the Peach Bowl by a score of 28-14.

The Yellow Jackets moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll after the final week of regular season play, the highest that they have been ranked since Oct. 21, 2006, when they were ranked 13th.

                          

Georgia Tech is winless in their three trips to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, formerly the Peach Bowl, with the last loss coming against the Tigers in 2000.

 

The Yellow Jackets have seen great success under first-year head coach Paul Johnson, headlined by his implementation of the triple-option offense. Johnson's first season with the Yellow Jackets earned him Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

 

Georgia Tech is averaging 377.3 yards of total offense per game, good for best in the ACC. The team's 282.3 yards of rushing offense per game is also tops in the conference.

 

Sophomore running back Jonathan Dwyer has led the charge, carrying the ball 190 times for 1,328 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Marietta-native has gone over 100 yards in all but three of the Jackets games this season. Dwyer has also scored at least one touchdown in Georgia Tech's last five games.

 

"I am really proud of Jon," Johnson said. "He has a lot of talent and is a very gifted young man from that aspect. We didn't have a lot of depth behind him, and he didn't miss a game or hardly any practices, so his work ethic, durability and toughness were very impressive to me. I think Jon is going to continue to get better.

 

"He has some things he can work on but he is a very talented man and I think he deserves to be named ACC Offensive Player of the Year. He is certainly was as good as anyone I saw in the league."

 

Sophomore quarterback Josh Nesbitt has managed the way from under center, offering more of a threat on the ground than through the air.

 

The Greensboro-native completed 46-of-99 passing for 658 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions on the season. On the ground, Nesbitt totaled 631 yards and seven touchdowns on 156 carries.

 

The third piece to the running game has been running back Roddy Jones. The Stone Mountain-native has totaled 72 carries for 658 yards and four touchdowns in his freshman campaign.

 

When Johnson and the Jackets stray away from the running attack, sophomore Demaryius Thomas has been Nesbitt's favorite target.

 

Thomas has hauled in 36 catches for 595 yards and three touchdowns on the year, though he has failed to find the end zone in the team's last five contests.

 

Defensively, Georgia Tech ranks sixth in the ACC, allowing an average of 312.7 yards to opposing offenses per game.

 

The Yellow Jackets rush defense ranks fourth in the conference, allowing an average of 116.9 yards per game, while the pass defense ranks eighth in the ACC, giving up an average of 195.8 yards per game.

 

The team's 18 interceptions puts it third in the ACC, headlined by sophomore Morgan Burnett's seven picks. Burnett also leads the team in total tackles with 79.

 

The Yellow Jacket's 32 sacks are good for second best in the league. Senior Michael Johnson and sophomore Derrick Morgan lead the team with seven sacks a piece.

 

Heading into the preparation weeks before taking on the Tigers, Johnson looks for the team to improve on a number of fronts.

 

"We can get a whole lot better," Johnson said. "We can get better at almost every area offensively in terms of execution. We can get better at our reads, our steps and fundamentals. We will get more of it in and understand our schemes better. We have to be able to throw the ball better, and that goes back to protection and route-running.

 

"I would love to get some of the run and shoot stuff in that we didn't have a chance to get in," added Johnson. "So, as you can see, there are a lot of things we can get better at. I feel like we have only scratched the surface on offense. I didn't think we were very good on offense this year from my standards and I think we can do better."

 

LSU leads the all-time series against Georgia Tech 12-6, but that 2000 game was the first meeting between the two teams since 1963, Tech's last year as a member of the Southeastern Conference.

 

The Yellow Jackets, who already own wins over Mississippi State and Georgia, are looking to go 3-0 against SEC teams this season.

 

The game is set to kick on January 31 at 7:30 pm in the Georgia Dome.

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