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September 26, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Ga Tech

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Each game, we'll get the inside look at Virginia Tech's opponent by talking with the opposing team's beat writer. This week, we spoke with JacketsOnline.com publisher Kelly Quinlan to get the inside look at Georgia Tech.


1) Virginia Tech always talks about being ready for Georgia Tech's chop blocks the OL make. Is it really a chop block? And how would you describe how GT blocks?

Quinlan: The only time Georgia Tech chop blocks someone is accidental and typically on pass plays on the edge. I've seen two all year at most. This is some weird thing that Frank Beamer is obsessed with talking about every time he plays GT. No other coach talks about chop blocks with Georgia Tech except Beamer for some reason. Georgia Tech does cut block but they do so legally and most spread teams cut block on running plays and screen plays. VT has cut a ton in the past on both.


2)I've heard Georgia Tech has mixed in other nuances like the pistol into the offense. How much do they actually use, that's a difference from the option?

Quinlan: They have a pistol and shotgun package. The main pistol package they use is a Diamond formation brought in by quarterbacks coach Bryan Cook. The Diamond is basically the standard spread option formation only in the pistol and turned 90-degrees. The backs switch assignments so the two slot backs can run fullback plays out of it and the fullback can run both slot and fullback type plays out of it. They have three receiver packages and single back formations as well that they have not run in a game yet.


3) It looks like The Yellow Jackets' offense has been humming for the most part so far. What's been the biggest reason for the success?

Quinlan: This is the most experienced offensive line in the ACC and one of the most experienced in the country. They have played a lot of games together and Coach Paul Johnson has a lot of experienced players mixed in with his young quarterback, Vad Lee. Johnson can call a lot of designed runs instead of just option reads because of that and it continues moving the ball when the struggle with reads. Lee is also the most skilled passer Tech has had under Johnson and probably the best all-around quarterback talent wise since Joe Hamilton.


4)With Georgia Tech allowing just seven points in the second half of the last five games, what's been the difference on defense in the second half? What wasn't there in the first half?

Quinlan: Mainly, adjustments and effort have made the biggest difference. Obviously the two games before Roof kind of go out the window, but the last two games, the defense changed one or two matchups and really slowed down the opposing team. In the second half of the North Carolina game the Yellow Jackets put their best cover guy corner, Jemea Thomas on Eric Ebron and held him to one catch for like six yards compared to nearly a 100 yards on five catches in the first half.


5) With both teams on a short week, do you see any advantages for either team, aside from home field advantage?

Quinlan: Playing at home is pretty significant at this point, especially after both teams played in bad conditions and in close games last week. Not having to travel and deal with crowd noise can make a difference in a game like this and all the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech games have been extremely close and have come down to a possession going one way or another late in the game.


FEARLESS PREDICTION: I think it will be close and low scoring. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster does the best job of any DC of preparing his team for the spread option. I think Georgia Tech will win 21-13, but they cannot give up special teams and defensive scores. If they do Virginia Tech is likely to flip that score.

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