BYU football vs. Georgia Tech: How the Cougars match up against the Yellow Jackets
David Goldman, ASSOCIATED PRESS
PROVO — BYU will look to rebound on the road against Georgia Tech following a tough loss to Notre Dame. The Yellowjackets present a very prolific offense and a defense that has been gashed consistently by opponents this season.
So what can fans expect to happen come Saturday? We talked to coaches, players and looked over the match-ups to give our best glimpse regarding what to expect.
BYU rushing attack vs. Georgia Tech
The Cougars ran the ball well in the first half against the Irish before bogging down in the second. True freshman Jamaal Williams saw the grand majority of reps at running back and finished the game with 14 rushes for 64 yards.
The run-game sustained a blow when starting center Braden Hansen suffered a groin injury against Notre Dame and will likely miss the rest of the regular season as a result.
Georgia Tech presents a 3-4 base defense that yields 145.3 yards per game on a 4.3 yards per carry average. It’s coming off a very promising game against Boston College where it gave up just 32 yards on the ground, however.
The defense is led by its outside linebackers Brandon Watts (6-2, 238, junior) and Jeremiah Attaochu (6-3, 240, junior) Its defensive front is anchored by senior TJ Barnes, who stands at a mere 6-foot-7 and weighs a whopping 345 pounds.
Cougar question mark
How will the offensive front adjust to the loss of Braden Hansen? Hansen is the latest casualty to the BYU offensive front, and he’ll be replaced by Blair Tushaus, who started the year but was replaced in his starting role by Hansen prior to the Hawaii game.
Tushaus has struggled with his consistency and presents a sub-270 frame and will have his work cut out for him going against Barnes. How Tushaus responds to gaining his starting spot back will play a huge role in how effective the Cougar ground game is against the Yellowjackets.
“We need to focus on our plays and our own strategies,” said tight end Kaneakua Friel. “They’ve given up a lot of points this year, but they’re also capable of playing some great defense, so we need to play our best game, and I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet this year.”
The run-game saw a drop-off in production during the second half against the Irish, and it’s not a coincidence that it had to make due without Hansen for most of that half. Tushaus has a great opportunity to re-establish himself as the starter, and Manaaki Vaitai and Solomone Kafu have both provided consistent play at the two starting guard positions.
Georgia Tech is coming off a very good game against Boston College, however, and its overall size up front should hold BYU to under 150 yards rushing for the game. BYU should see better overall gains than it did against a very good Notre Dame front, however.
BYU passing attack vs. Georgia Tech
The BYU air attack wasn’t all that productive last week against the Irish, with Riley Nelson providing a bevy of short passes to the flat and across the middle. Overall, the Cougars threw for just 177 yards and were unable to beat an aggressive Notre Dame defense down the field.
Georgia Tech can be had through the air as evidenced by its giving up 267.9 yards per game to opponents. The Yellowjackets present an experienced secondary that is led by senior cornerback Rod Sweeting (6-0, 187) and junior safety Jamea Thomas (5-10, 195.)
Georgia Tech turns into a 4-3 defense during most passing situations, with junior defensive end Euclid Cummings (6-4, 275) working as its primary pass rusher off the edge.
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