Jackets wary of Wolfpack offense

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATLANTA -- As much of a threat as Russell Wilson and the N.C. State passing attack is, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson went out of his way to emphasize stopping the run when the Yellow Jackets welcome the Wolfpack to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.

It's not just because of capable Wolfpack backs like freshmen Mustafa "Moose" Green and Dean Haynes, who have combined for 312 yards and five TDs and have averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

"We've had six straight games, I think, which we've given up a hundred-yard rusher," Johnson said. "That would be a good point right there to start to get better -- to stop that trend."

North Carolina's Johnny White became the latest in that trend by running for 113 yards and a touchdown in the Tar Heels' 30-24 loss to Tech last Saturday.

The streak began when Georgia's Caleb King (18 carries, 166 yards, 2 TDs) and Washaun Ealey (20-183) both topped the century mark in last year's regular-season finale.

It continued with Clemson's C.J. Spiller (20-233, 4 TDs) in last year's ACC title game and Iowa's Brandon Wegher (16-113, TD) in the Orange Bowl, plus South Carolina State's Asheton Jordan (18-129) and Kansas' James Sims (17-101, TD) in the first two games of this season.

After White extended the streak last week, Johnson issued the challenge for his run defense to make a stand against the Wolfpack.

"I think they're getting better," Johnson said Tuesday when asked about his defense's adjustment to the 3-4 scheme. "You have to know what you're doing and where you're going to play fast. I think they're still feeling their way some, but I think they're getting better."

Georgia Tech and N.C. State have not played since 2006, but Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh's 3-4 package is not new to the Wolfpack. Groh was in the ACC for nine years as Virginia's coach before joining Johnson's staff.

"It does present different problems for you," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. "And I think that's probably the most overlooked thing when you play Georgia Tech. Everybody worries about playing their offense, but now, because of their defense, and because of the possibilities of who's rushing, who's dropping, where are they coming from."

Johnson said he is encouraged by the defense's second-half performance in last week's win over the Tar Heels, who were held to just one TD after the break.

"I think we played harder," Johnson said. "We still had double-digit missed tackles. It's something we've got to continue to work on and get better at, but clearly we made some progress in the second half.

"They didn't score every time they had it, so that's some progress. When we had to have a stop in the game, we went out and got a stop. Hopefully that will help the confidence of the defense."



Tech's final drive of the first half during last Saturday's 30-24 win was a significant one, and not just because it resulted in Scott Blair s 22-yard field goal as time expired to send the Jackets into intermission tied 17-17.

The 20 plays it took Tech to cover 87 yards tied for the longest drive in the last 25 years at 10:32. The longest was a 10:47 drive for a touchdown in last season's win at Virginia.



Senior B-back Anthony Allen has had a solid career since transferring to Tech from Louisville, running for 850 yards in his first 17 games, including 115 yards on 20 carries last Saturday.

But combined with the yardage he accumulated while at Louisville, he is fast approaching a milestone.

The 6-0, 229-pounder needs just 48 more yards to reach 2,000 for his college career.



Saturday's game with N.C. State has long been designated as Tech's traditional "White Out" game in which fans and students are encouraged to wear white.

However, the Wolfpack may not cooperate.

While Tech has gone back to a longtime tradition of wearing white jerseys at home since Johnson became coach in 2008, NCAA rules allow the visiting team the right to wear white jerseys on the road, a right N.C. State has indicated it will exercise Saturday.

The last time a visitor did that to Tech was when Wake Forest wore white last season.

The Jackets wore gold jerseys that day and beat the Demon Deacons, 30-27, in overtime, though school officials have not yet indicated what color jerseys the team will wear Saturday.


Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.