Georgia Southern fullback Dominique Swope (6) is stopped by Georgia safety and former Seminole County star Bacarri Rambo and linebacker and former Early County standout Shawn Williams in the first half of their game last Saturday.
WHO: Georgia Tech (6-5) at No. 3 Georgia (10-1).
WHAT: Annual in-state rivalry showdown with national title implications for the Bulldogs.
WHEN: Noon Saturday.
RADIO: Albany— 1450 AM or 103.5 FM; Americus — 98.7 FM or 1390 AM; Donalsonville — 106.3 FM; Moultrie 93.9 FM or 1300 AM.
LINE: Bulldogs by 13 points.
ATHENS — For the most part, Georgia bottled up the vaunted triple-option rushing attack of Georgia Southern last weekend.
Now the real triple-option threat comes to town.
No disrespect to the Eagles, who are the best at what they do at the FCS level, but Georgia Tech is nearly the best at running ball at the highest level of the FBS — behind only Army and Air Force in yards averaged per game on the ground.
And while last week’s 45-14 UGA win against lower-division Georgia Southern was indicative of the ability of the Bulldogs’ defense to be able to handle tricky triple-option attack, Georgia coach Mark Richt conveyed this week that his guys understand what Georgia Tech will bring to Sanford Stadium is a whole different animal.
“We’ll find out (very quickly) how well we handle it against Georgia Tech. They are averaging 47 points over the last three or four games. They are just so explosive that I just don’t how we are going to handle it,” said Richt, who is 10-1 against Georgia Tech all-time since coming to Athens 12 years ago. “We are going to have to find out.”
If No. 3 Georgia (10-1) struggles to stop the Yellow Jackets (6-5), the ramifications are massive: If UGA can win Saturday, then beat Alabama in the SEC title game, it will find itself playing for a national title.
But if the Bulldogs aren’t careful, the triple-option can ruin all of it.
Richt praised Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson this week for the job he’s done turning that offense into one of the most feared in college football.
“There aren’t a lot of people doing it, but he knows it so well that obviously he doesn’t need a call sheet. It’s in his brain, and he’s seen just about everything under the sun, as far as people trying to defend it,” Richt said of the triple-option, which has run up 710 yards in the last two games — both wins — for Tech. “When he sees something, he knows where to go next, and that’s the beauty of the system that they have. You know what to do to counteract what a defense is trying to do to stop something or slow it down. I don’t know if that many people have as good a grasp on their offensive system. There’s a lot of coaches that if the defense brings a little bit of a different scheme to a game, it might take until halftime to start making adjustments and it might take until the next day Sunday to watch what happened and figure out what went wrong.”
The Yellow Jackets come into the game having won three in a row. As usual, the run-oriented team ranks near the top of the country in rushing yards (third at 324.9).
Lucky for UGA, it had a warm-up game last week to prepare.
“It helps us a big amount going against this offense for the second week in a row, because you get a feel of how the cut blocks will be coming against you in a live game,” UGA linebacker Amarloa Herrera said. “It gives you an extra week of practice as well as game time experience on how to defend against those cut blocks.”