BYU football: BYU vs. Georgia Tech from an insider's perspective

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24 2012 10:00 a.m. MDT

ATLANTA — Jonathan Leifheit covers Georgia Tech football for GoJackets.com and knows the team as well as anyone. We asked Leifheit five questions to gain better perspective on BYU's next opponent.

1. Georgia Tech seems to be a bit up and down this season. It's proven to be a team that can hang with the likes of Clemson on the road, but drop a game at home against Middle Tennessee State. What has led to the inconsistency and what have coaches done to address it?

The inconsistency has largely been a function of the defense and to a lesser extent poor special teams play. The defense has largely been confused and out of position for most of the year. Also, the Miami game was a very emotional loss and I believe the resulting hangover/loss of focus led directly to the MTSU loss. It’s not often you see a team as flat as Georgia Tech was against MTSU.

Clearly, the biggest thing that has been done to address the inconsistency was to fire Al Groh and elevate Charles Kelly to the defensive coordinator position. There’s only been one game (vs Boston College) since that change. But, the defense did fare somewhat better — allowing the Yellow Jackets to build a 31-3 lead before allowing 2 touchdowns. Can they sustain that improvement? That is the million-dollar question.

2. Georgia Tech runs an unusual and highly effective offensive system. Describe the system it runs and what makes it so productive? Who are the primary playmakers?

The system is called a spread option offense by coach Paul Johnson. Most television commentators will refer to it as a triple option offense. The basic formation is a double slot and single tailback formation. Some call the formation a flex-bone formation.

The bread and butter play (which will be called about 20-30 percent typically) is a triple option play. Option 1 is a quarterback give to the fullback, option 2 is for the quarterback to keep it himself, and the last option is for the quarterback to pitch to an A-back (aka slot back). All of the decisions on whether to give or keep are predicated on how the defense plays that particular play.

The success is due to a number of factors. First, teams are not accustomed to facing an offense like this. They will try to replicate it in practice. But, it takes a bit to get used to the speed at which the plays are run.

Second, (coach) Paul Johnson has been running the system for over 25 years and has learned how to adjust very well during the game to what the defense is giving him. These adjustments are not limited to simply calling different plays. It also means changing up who is blocking who and keeping the defense guessing against the same plays.

Third, the nature of the offense leaves the receivers typically in a one-on-one matchup with the defense and quite frequently the offense is able to take advantage of this and hit for big pass plays. The offense doesn’t typically pass much. But, they are very effective when they do.

Playmakers on the offensive side are primarily quarterback Tevin Washington and A-back Orwin Smith. But, the other A-backs (Robbie Godhigh, BJ Bostic, and Tony Zenon) along with freshman wide receiver Anthony Autry are also very capable as you would expect many playmakers from an offense as good as this one. Washington is like football’s version of the point guard. He doesn’t wow you with his athleticism but he almost always makes the right decision in running plays (which is a huge component of running this offense). This year his passing has also been very effective — if not very pretty.

The A-backs will all see the ball on the perimeter when rushing and also they are the best receivers for this year’s version of the offense. Outside of the recent emergence of Anthony Autry, the wide receivers have not been as big a part of the offense as years past.

3. What type of defense does Georgia Tech run and who are the primary playmakers on that side of the football?

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