It’s bowl time! The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have been in Nashville for a few days in preparation for Monday’s Music City Bowl against Ole Miss, and now, we join them in taking a look at what to expect when the two teams hit the field. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Georgia Tech Offense vs. Ole Miss Defense
The “featured” match-up on this side of the ball is certainly the Tech ground game against what has been a stingy Ole Miss rushing defense. The Jackets are 4th in the nation in rushing yards per game (311.7) due to their triple option success, but the biggest knock on this offense is that teams with the combination of athletes and preparation time (something that Ole Miss features) will be able to key in on the ground attack.
Ole Miss has only allowed about 133 yards per game on the ground this season, which is obviously quite a bit less than Tech has averaged, but they also haven’t seen anything resembling this triple option. When we last saw the Jackets against an SEC-quality opponent in UGA, they ran for over 260 yards at 4.5 yards per attempt, and that’s the best comparison we can draw. David Sims, Robert Godhigh and Zach Laskey provide a quality, 3-headed running back attack, and with Vad Lee under center, he’s always a threat to pull the ball back and keep it for big yardage.
On the Rebels defense, Robert Nkemdiche (the nation’s #1 recruit) is their most dangerous pass-rusher and an athletic freak, but I’m sure Paul Johnson will attempt to take full advantage of his relative inexperience against this particular rushing strategy. With a gun to my head, I think Tech will have substantial success on the ground, but they may need to summon a 250-to-300 yard effort in order to sustain the type of long drives that they desire.
Georgia Tech Defense vs. Ole Miss Offense
The 7-5 rebels averaged more than 30 points per game this season, and the majority of that damage happened through the air. Quarterback Bo Wallace threw for more than 3,000 yards on the season, and Donte Moncrief was the main beneficiary of his targets. The biggest “hit” that they’ve taken in bowl season is an injury to freshman All-American offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, and that should free things up for Jeremiah Attaochu and company to put pressure on Wallace.
Speaking of Attaochu, he was recently named to both All-ACC and All-American teams, and I’d expect the senior to take up residence in the opposing backfield in his last college game. That should help greatly in limiting Ole Miss to less than the 240 yards per game that the Jackets are allowing through the air, and take some pressure off of the sometimes maligned Tech secondary.
On the ground, Ole Miss doesn’t have a single rusher with over 505 yards, but they’ve still managed to have a top-50 rushing attack. They are averaging north of 180 yards per game with 20 rushing scores on the season, and Ted Roof will have his hands full, especially given the amount of time that the Rebs have had to prepare.
In the minds of the “experts”, Ole Miss is a small favorite (stay tuned to the game thread for specifics), but this is really a coin-flip situation for both teams. Paul Johnson will be charged with creating new wrinkles to his already nuanced system in order to avoid a month’s worth of game-planning from Ole Miss, and on defense, slowing down Bo Wallace and company is a huge task. Moving into 2014, it would be an enormous win for the program, but nothing is given at this level, and this should be a hotly contested ball game.
Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open shortly.