ATLANTA – One week after the Atlantic Coast Conference season opener, Georgia Tech steps outside the conference to host Navy this Saturday. After facing pass-oriented offenses the last two weeks in Central Florida and Florida State, the Yellow Jackets will now contend with the Midshipmen’s run-oriented option attack.
“We have our work cut out for us this week as far as getting ready for a whole different offensive attack as compared to the first two games that we played,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “And from an offensive standpoint, we will also have to face a completely different defensive package, too.”
The Yellow Jackets host Navy on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. There will be no live television coverage in the Atlanta, but the game will be televised in the mid-Atlantic region on Home Team Sports. Live radio coverage will be available on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network (WGST 640 AM in the Atlanta area).
Tech enters the game with a 1-1 record after dropping a tight 26-21 decision to Florida State last weekend. Navy is 0-1 after falling to Temple, 17-6, in its season opener two weeks ago.
“Navy comes in with a wishbone option attack,” said O’Leary. “Any time you face a program like that, it all comes down to defensive responsibilities. They throw enough gadget plays with their passing, reverses and screens that you have to be on your toes. But you have to stop the run and make sure that you keep yourself ahead with down and distance and get them in situations that they don’t want to be in.”
Navy’s run attack seemingly plays into the strong point of Georgia Tech’s defense. Through two games, the Yellow Jackets are allowing just 40.5 yards per contest on the ground as opposed to 355.0 yards in the air. Tech’s opponents are averaging just 1.4 yards per carry.
Navy struggled offensively in its opener against Temple, amassing just 148 yards of total offense. Last year against the Yellow Jackets in Annapolis, however, the Midshipmen pounded out 192 yards on the ground.
“Anytime you run option for a living like they do ” and they run every form of option there is ” they key is to play your position,” O’Leary said. “If you play it right you should be fine, but all it takes is one breakdown where somebody has the ball and we don’t have anybody on them.
“You need to have people react to what they see and be ready to play where they are supposed to play. You have to be very disciplined because they have the ability to make big plays. We have to keep them in situations where they are not comfortable and have to go to something that they don’t want to do a lot of. But they can throw the ball and they can throw it very well.”
O’Leary was pleased with his team’s effort last week against Florida State, but he was concerned with the high number of penalties that his team was flagged for. Tech was penalized 19 times for a school-record 140 yards against the Seminoles.
“With the interference calls, our guys are fighting for the ball and I don’t have any problem there,” said O’Leary. “The penalties that really bother me are the ones before the ball is snapped ” the delays, illegal procedure and offsides. I’ve addressed all of those things with the team. You should know how to line up and you should know that there is a clock.
“Those penalties are all correctable, and it’s a matter of concentration and discipline. I make a tape of all our penalties, and I go over it with the team each week. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot like that and expect to win ball games.”
Another area O’Leary intends to address is his team’s depth on the offensive side of the ball. He plans to run an entire second-team offensive unit at some point during the game this Saturday.
“We are early in the season and we have too many guys playing too many plays,” said O’Leary. “I have a complete second team that is going to be on that field on Saturday, and I don’t care what the score is. I want to get the young guys playing and I want to get more people involved in playing. They work hard during the week, and I want to see what they can do in the game.”
On the injury front, O’Leary said that defensive end Felipe Claybrooks (Decatur, Ga.), who suffered a sprained knee against Florida State is listed a questionable to doubtful for the Navy game. Cornerback Marvious Hester (Smyrna, Ga.) is listed as probable to questionable after suffering a pulled hamstring on a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Seminoles.