BYU football: 5 questions with a Georgia Tech insider
J Pat Carter, AP
1. Georgia Tech is coming off two tough losses to quality opponents after a 3-0 start. What's the state of the team heading into Provo and how important is this out of conference game for the Yellow Jackets?
The team is a bit frustrated and disappointed at this point. Given the previous two losses, this game is probably bigger than it would be had they won either of those. Now, this teams feels like it has to stop the losing streak and there's a bit more urgency surrounding this game.
2. How is this Yellow Jacket team similar to the team BYU played last season? In what ways is the team different?
On offense, this team is still looking for an identity and more consistency. Despite some of the issues, though, this remains a dangerous unit. Coach Johnson is a pretty good play-caller, and if there is something to be had against a defense, he usually finds it. To go into more detail on some of the struggles, the offensive line was expected to be a strength. But they have been just OK so far. Vad Lee had a lot of expectations heaped upon him by the fans. He is still learning and in his sixth game as a starter.
We saw a pretty nice jump in what he has done over the course of the season. But he still misses a lot of reads in the option. Overall, I think this offense is still looking to establish the things that they do well and to do them consistently well. They do look pretty good at times during games. But they have disappeared as well. They just seem unable to consistently do the little things required for the offense to be as successful as coach Paul Johnson expects.
The defense seems to have improved a decent amount since last year. But they were pretty bad then and needed to improve dramatically. It should be noted that they have performed pretty well in four of the five contests — Miami being the obvious exception. They are taking the ball away with a little more regularity and also getting off the field more often. Nevertheless, there is still much room for improvement. Outside of Jeremiah Attaochu, the pass rush has been missing and the tackling up front has been inconsistent. Injuries to the secondary have taken a toll (losing both Golden and Johnson) within that unit.
3. Talk about Georgia Tech on offense. What type of system does it run and who are the top playmakers?
Coach Paul Johnson runs a spread-based option attack. However, unlike previous years, the option has been a lot less prevalent and has featured a few more formations — adding a diamond formation as well as increased snaps from a pistol formation. This offense has also passed more often than in previous years. So, while the basics will look a lot like last year, the offense is definitely different. The top playmakers are quarterback Vad Lee, A-back Robbie Godhigh and wide receiver DeAndre Smelter.
4. Same question on defense. What's the system and who are the standout players?
The Yellow Jacket defense starts with a 4-3 scheme and they will play that a good bit. But you can expect to see multiple fronts from defensive coordinator Ted Roof and they will play aggressive — with blitzes and stunts aplenty. The top playmakers are defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu and defensive back Jemea Thomas. Coach Johnson says about Attaochu that he plays the game like it should be played and Thomas just seems to have a nose for the ball and the player that coach Roof turns to in order to clamp down in coverage on a receiver.
5. What are the key matchups for Georgia Tech versus BYU? What do the Yellow Jackets need to do to come out of Provo with a win?
Against the BYU defense, the Georgia Tech offense needs to do a good job of blocking on the perimeter. The A-backs have to be able to cut down their men and give the quarterback and other A-backs a chance to get in space and free for big plays. This has been the source of some of the inconsistency by the offense. And quarterback Vad Lee needs to continue to improve his reads of the BYU defense to get the ball to the right player — and that includes both the ground game and the passing attack. If BYU can keep Lee confused, then it will greatly inhibit the Yellow Jacket offense.
On defense, the Yellow Jackets need to find a way to contain Taysom Hill — get pressure on him and contain his running ability. Hill generates over 300 yards of offense by himself — with over 100 yards of that coming on the ground. Also, the defense has to be ready to play at a fast tempo and be able to communicate to one another quickly and efficiently given the tempo that BYU will try to dictate. The Yellow Jackets will also need to find a way to generate some pass rush via blitzes or other means and make Hill uncomfortable in the pocket.
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