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Georgia Tech's Offensive Balance Critical in 2013

Teams facing a Paul Johnson-coached offense know they are going to face an attack unlike any other they will see throughout the season.

The Georgia Tech head coach has earned his reputation as one of the best option coaches in all of college football. While he does a great job of varying his scheme with formations and motions, opponents have never spent much time wondering what was coming at them. His teams have always ran quick toss, midline option, traps, belly and a variety of counters. This year, however, they’ve added another component: the forward pass.

That’s not to say that Johnson’s teams have never passed in previous seasons, but they haven’t done so with the success that they are this year. As a result, the Yellow Jackets are keeping defenses off-balance and having great success in both aspects of the game.

The versatility of sophomore quarterback Vad Lee is critical for Johnson and the Jackets. Not only is he tough enough to take the pounding that option quarterbacks must endure, he also is a talented passer who can fit the ball into small windows. He leads Georgia Tech in carries with 52, but has also thrown the ball 39 times through three games.

Johnson has thrown the ball on first and second down much more than he has in the past because of the confidence that he has in Lee. He’s no longer afraid of getting behind the chains because he knows he has a quarterback who can complete passes even when the defense is prepared for it.

As a passer, Lee has completed 56 percent of his passes for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. Additionally, he’s only thrown one interception.

The Yellow Jackets face their first top-tier defense Thursday night when they host the Virginia Tech Hokies (28th nationally in points allowed). If they are going to win, they’ll need to remain a more balanced attack that keeps defenses guessing.

Lee will be integral in that game plan.

B.L. is an ACC Football writer for Rant Sports who can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.

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Virginia Tech's Run Defense Ready for Georgia Tech

This Thursday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, a lot will be on the line when Virginia Tech takes on Georgia Tech in an ACC Coastal division battle.

Since the conference split into two divisions, the two Tech’s are the only schools that have represented the coastal division in the ACC Championship game. Last year, a 6-6 Georgia Tech team backed their way into the title game thanks to North Carolina and Miami being on some form of probation.

However, between the years 2005-2011, the winner of this game has gone on to win the coastal division and represent the division in the title game. This year, Miami looks to be a major player in the coastal, and Georgia Tech already has two wins against division foes in Duke and North Carolina. Virginia Tech only beat an East Carolina team by five points two weeks ago, and then last week needed overtime to beat Marshall.

The Hokies’ offense does not look strong this season, but their defense might be the best in the country.

It is no secret that Georgia Tech likes to run the football with their triple-option attack. Paul Johnson is a mad scientist when it comes to running the option, and he now has a quarterback that can throw the ball consistently. Vad Lee is off to a great start for the Yellow Jackets this season as he has thrown seven touchdowns, which is more than Clemson‘s Tajh Boyd has passed for.

He does a good job of protecting the ball too, as he has only thrown one interception. The Georgia Tech offense is more dangerous now with Lee’s ability to throw, but when we get down to the meat of it, Johnson still wants to pound the football on the ground.

The Jackets have rushed for over 300 yards in each of their first three games. Last week, they ran all over UNC, finishing with 324 yards on the ground. The Tar Heels can never seem to slow this GT offense down, but Virginia Tech might be able to.

The Hokies might have the best defense in the entire country, but they get overlooked because of their struggles on offense. The Hokies’ defense held Alabama to just 96 rushing yards in their 35-10 Week 1 loss. That game should have been a lot closer, but the Hokies gave up two special teams touchdowns and Logan Thomas threw a pick-6.

The Hokies’ stout run defense followed up their opening week performance with three more stellar games in which they surrendered 111 rush yards to Western Carolina, 46 to East Carolina and 133 to Marshall. It will be a fun chess match between Johnson and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.  It will be a game of adjustments, but the running game will be the deciding factor in this game.

The Hokies are going to have to get back to Beamer Ball (non-offensive touchdowns), because their starting quarterback has struggled this year and has more interceptions than touchdown passes.

Something’s got to give in this Thursday night showdown.  Will the Yellow Jackets be able to run through that active rush defense of Virginia Tech? Or will the Hokies’ defense rise up and force the Jackets to pass more than they want to? We will get our answers on Thursday night in Atlanta.

Travis Patterson, Writer for ACC  Follow on Twitter @tpat20.

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