Sept. 2, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
There will be a few new faces in new places – some of them unanticipated right up until head coach Paul Johnson’s depth chart becomes real – yet when Georgia Tech plays at Virginia Tech Monday night there will be some predictables.
This game’s going to be hot.
Every GT-VT game is big. The winner of this game has for the past seven seasons gone on to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game.
A couple years ago, this was the game in which Joshua Nesbitt’s college career ended by injury. A year ago, Jeremiah Attaochu’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty changed the tide of a game the Yellow Jackets were controlling. They lost.
So, tonight will be, “pretty big,” Attaochu said. “It’s going to be loud, and we can’t get carried away. We’re going to have to communicate. We need to get our offense on the field, win on third downs.”
There, in a nutshell, is not only one of the big keys for tonight, but Georgia Tech’s season.
Last fall, the Jackets were among the least effective teams in the nation at forcing opponents to punt. When you’re ranked No. 83 in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert for either a first or touch down 42.37 percent of the time when you have them in that situation, you have to get better.
That’s been a point of emphasis.
“We’ve worked hard all summer, all spring. We feel very confident in the progress we’ve made,” Attaochu said. “We need to get our offense on the field, win on third downs. On first down, we need to make manageable first and second downs. We need to communicate better and execute.”
It will be interesting.
Looks like Charles Perkins will start at B-back, and that’s quite a development. Jamal Golden will start in a secondary that will be absent two starters, and of course fan favorite T.J. Barnes is said to be in shape and ready to do damage at nose tackle.
Time to roll.
“It’s exciting to be here and to finally be this close to getting the chance to play football,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a heck of an opponent in Virginia Tech – a top 20 team and a division game on the road. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge, but it’s also a good opportunity to play a national TV game against a quality opponent to see where we stand.”