When Georgia takes on Georgia Tech on Saturday, it will again be a heavy favorite. Despite a shared belief that the nation’s top-ranked team will easily take care of its biggest state rival, the Bulldogs recognize that the Yellow Jackets’ defense will have something to say about it.
The Bulldogs’ offense will go head-to-head with a Georgia Tech defense that’s sitting high after an impressive display against North Carolina. Although the Tar Heels come up with an electric offensive attack led by the quarterback Drake Maye and wide receiver Josh Downsthe Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels for 98 yards in the second half, ending North Carolina’s playoff hopes of a 21-17 win from Georgia Tech.
In Georgia head coach Kirby SmartIn his opinion, the success of the Georgia Tech defense boils down to one word: chaos.
“They slow down and move people. They fire people. They glare at people and generate sales,” Smart said. “You’ve bought it. They play really hard. Credit to the coach [Andrew] Thacker and what he believes in, but they play really hard. They are athletic and move a lot. They’re doing a good job.”
With 11 games on the books, a pair of Georgia Tech defenders – linebackers Ayinde Eley and Charlie Thomas – have eclipsed 100 tackles in the season (Eley leads the team with 107 and Thomas has 104). Defensive lineman Keion white has 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks — both team bests — and safety LaMiles Brooks leads with 3 interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
As much as the Yellow Jackets have struggled at times this fall, one of the team’s greatest strengths is their ability to create takeaways.
Georgia Tech has forced 23 turnovers in 11 games, which ranks seventh most nationwide. The Yellow Jackets forced three or more turnovers in four games, of which they won three. In comparison, the Georgia defense has only forced three or more turnovers in a game when they forced three against South Carolina.
When asked about the Yellow Jackets’ ability to generate turnovers, Smart again praised the work of Thacker – Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator – and commended the defensemen for their approach.
“They attack the ball, man. They have visible, intentional strip-outs,” Smart said. “That’s what we want from our boys. We always say that we compete with the other team to make more sales than them and they do a great job with that. You are plus-10 [in turnover margin] in their wins and they are plus-one in their losses. They have a really good sales margin.”
Regarding the confrontation with the Yellow Jackets, Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones explained the film shows just how physical Georgia Tech is and that the team plays with passion. Jones believes Saturday’s success will depend on playing with the same passion and not allowing the Yellow Vests to get the upper hand.
“YThey just have to be able to keep up their energy and play to the best of their ability, turn off any mental flaws and just play football,” Jones said. “You really shouldn’t think about it too much because once you start thinking, man, things are bound to go wrong. So just try to play the best you can, do your job, don’t try to do too much at once and just stick to the game plan.