Behind Enemy Bylines: Previewing No. 5 Georgia’s rivalry matchup with Georgia Tech
Behind Enemy Bylines is a series in which The Red & Black discusses Georgia’s upcoming game with the sports editor of the student newspaper of Georgia’s opponent for that week. This week, assistant sports editor Michael Hebert talked to assistant sports editor Harsha Sridhar of The Technique.
Michael Hebert: Georgia Tech has been on a bit of a roll as of late, what do you think gone into the Yellow Jackets’ success as of late?
Harsha Sridhar: It comes down to two things: improved run blocking and improved defense. Both quarterbacks in redshirt freshman Tobias Oliver and senior TaQuon Marshall have been more successful than ever running in recent weeks thanks to the o-line. As for the defense, Tech has had success with takeaways and has finally adjusted to the scheme of new defensive coordinator, Nate Woody. With the exception of takeaways, Tech’s defense isn’t statistically much better than last year’s unit, but they’ve certainly passed the eye test in recent weeks.
Michael Hebert: Georgia Tech has won the last two meetings in Athens, with such a big rivalry like this, do you think that motivates the players to win again? Especially since Georgia beat them last year and has had a lot of success as of late?
Harsha Sridhar: I think a major rivalry is always a motivating factor. And of course, no one can forget the fact that Tech beating the Bulldogs this weekend would essentially end UGA’s playoff hopes. But at the end of the day, these are highly skilled athletes on full scholarships; I don’t think they need any extra motivation.
Michael Hebert: Georgia Tech has one of the best, if not the best, rushing attack in the country. Georgia has struggled at times stopping the run, but the Bulldogs have improved in that area of late. How do you think Georgia Tech’s offense Can give the Bulldogs trouble?
Harsha Sridhar: I’d expect Tech to try the same formula LSU used to great success earlier this season: running early and often. That’s Tech’s identity. Most teams are at their weakest when they do the same thing over and over again, whether that’s running or passing, but the option can keep the defense guessing by putting the ball in the hands of a number of playmakers. Georgia no longer has Roquan Smith, so that helps, too.
Michael Hebert: What does Georgia Tech have to do on defense to slow down Jake Fromm and the Georgia offense?
Harsha Sridhar: The Jackets have to make stopping the run a priority. D’Andre Swift and company have made the running game potent, and that has opened up easy opportunities through the air for Fromm. I’m not yet sold on Fromm as a total package at quarterback: the Jackets need to make Fromm beat them.
Michael Hebert: General thoughts on the game and a score prediction?
Harsha Sridhar: These aren’t the same teams that played two years ago at Sanford Stadium when Georgia Tech got a win, but these also aren’t the same teams that played at Bobby Dodd last year when Georgia won in a blowout. Georgia is the favorite and deservedly so, but as Citadel displayed against Alabama last weekend (and Tech seems to display every year), an unconventional offense can make up for a talent gap. Georgia Tech shocks the world, 35-34.