There has been very little trickery or imagination in the week-to-week game plans from the Georgia Tech offense since Paul Johnson took over in 2008. Considering the back-to-back ACC Coach of the Year Awards in Johnson’s offense, there was little reason to question the strategy.
By now, we know what Georgia Tech will do each and every Saturday: Run. Run. Run.
The triple-option offense can be stubborn, boring, and old-school. For the most part, though, it really works. Georgia Tech runs over teams on a regular basis, especially squads that aren’t adept at stopping normal rushing attacks.
But what about opponents that excel at stopping the run?
The question is pertinent as Georgia Tech prepares to take on BYU this weekend, followed by Maryland and North Carolina in subsequent weeks. All three are currently ranked in the Top 25 in the country in stopping the run.
During Johnson’s tenure in Atlanta, his teams are 3-6 against top run defenses — those ranked in the Top 25 in the nation. Obviously, not all losses the same. That statistic can be misleading or tell you everything you need to know about Georgia Tech. The numbers are in the eye of the beholder.
In four of the nine games against big-time run defenses, Georgia Tech actually gained more yards on the ground than their season average. Simply put, they weren’t shut down.
In all nine of the games against big-time run defenses, Georgia Tech ran for significantly more than the opponent usually allowed. Now, to be fair, that’s mainly because none of their other opponents ran the football as much as Georgia Tech did.
It’s hard to read too much into this stat, but it does bear watching over the next three weeks. If GT drops two of three or all three games, Paul Johnson critics will come out and say that the offense is too predictable and that run stopping teams will always beat them. If GT runs over all three opponents, predictability and consistency will be touted.
A quick review of the box scores does show this easily fixable trait: Three of the losses were by one score.
With a little luck, Paul Johnson could be 6-3 against the toughest teams he has to scheme against.