Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Duke Blue Devils preview


After pulling off a big win against the Miami Hurricanes last week, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets host the 4-1 Duke Blue Devils this Saturday looking to extend their perfect record to 6-0. Paul Johnson’s team will have another challenging game on their slate in this one, but after wins against Virginia Tech and Miami, they’ve proven they can handle those challenges. Still, David Cutcliffe’s teams normally come to the table disciplined, with a quarterback who’s not going to beat himself. This year’s team is no different.

Opponent: Duke Blue Devils

Time/TV: 12:30 pm ET, ESPN3

Georgia Tech Offense vs. Duke Defense

Justin Thomas has done an excellent job running Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense this season–so much so that the team comes into this game as the No. 11 rushing offense in the country. Here at ATL All Day, we’ve even talked about Thomas’ odds at being the ACC Player of the Year.

In a recent Q&A for the News & Observer, Tech beat reporter Ken Sugiura said this about Thomas’ ability to run the offense:

"Thomas is practically an ideal fit. He’s both quick and fast, which enables him to get the option moving more quickly and then outrun defenders once he gets going downfield. He’s made plays where the defense wasn’t blocked perfectly, but Thomas was fast and quick enough to outrun the unblocked defenders. He provides margin for error. Beyond that, he’s improving at making the reads on the option, is a tough runner and is a better passer than you might expect."

Defensively, Duke doesn’t look anywhere near the same level as Miami and Virginia Tech were on paper. They come into this game as the 93rd-best run defense in the country (186.4 rushing yards allowed per game) and the 49th-best total defense in the country. They can thank that ranking to an excellent secondary, which has allowed the 18th-fewest passing yards per game (181.2).

Still, Tech has never been a team that’s going to be you with the passing game, and that’s especially true this season with Thomas.

One thing that the Duke defense does have going for them is they’ve had an extra week to prepare for the triple-option. And that can be a game changer. Georgia Tech’s struggles in bowl games have been well-documented, and one of the biggest reasons for that seems to be the extra time that teams have to prepare.

Georgia Tech Defense vs. Duke Offense

And now, we come to the scary side of the Jackets.

Duke is the 45th-best total offense in the FBS at this point, with 446.2 yards per game. Most of that comes from their rushing attack, which is the 25th-best ground attack in the nation after averaging 225.8 yards per game.

The Blue Devils hand the ball off pretty evenly to a running back corps of Shaun Wilson, Shaquille Powell and Josh Snead. Wilson has done the brunt of the damage though, with 435 yards on 36 carries (12.1 yard average) and four touchdowns.

Then there’s Duke quarterback Anthony Boone, who’s perfectly content to sit in the pocket and make pass after pass. His completion percentage is down so far this season (57.1 percent at the moment compared to 64 last season) but so are his picks. In Duke’s five games, Boone has given the ball away just three times.


While this game might not have the allure of last week’s Miami matchup, it will be the first time the Jackets will be playing with a top-25 ranking in both polls this season. In addition, it’s been 10 years since the Blue Devils have managed to take down the Jackets and both team’s coaches have provided some interesting layers to the game-action as well. This one could be a bit more interesting than most people might be expecting.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning. Check it out!