GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will try to remain
unbeaten on the season on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome the Duke Blue
Devils to Bobby Dodd Stadium for Atlantic Coast Conference action.
Duke opened up the season with four straight wins in its non-conference slate
of games but suffered a setback in its first ACC bout on Sept. 27 with a 22-10
loss at the hands of Miami-Florida.
“We at times played well in all three phases, but we didn’t piece all three
phases as well as we normally would together to put ourselves in a position to
be successful,” Duke coach Dave Cutcliffe said.
Georgia Tech is 5-0 for the second time in coach Paul Johnson’s seven-year
tenure and for the 18th time in school history. The Yellow Jackets are 2-0 in
ACC play, having defeated Virginia Tech on the road (27-24) and most recently
taking care of Miami at home last weekend, 28-17.
“That was a huge win,” Johnson said. “Offensively we did a great job
possessing the ball and keeping (Miami’s) athletes off the field. And we got
some crucial stops on defense when we had to.”
The Yellow Jackets are riding a 10-game winning streak over the Blue Devils
and now lead the all-time series by a 50-30-1 count.
The Blue Devils had scored 34 points or more in every game prior to their
disappointing 10-point effort against Miami, in which they amassed just 264
yards. The unit still averages a stellar 36.8 ppg and 446.2 ypg on the season.
Anthony Boone had just one interception heading into last week’s matchup, when
he went just 22-of-51 passing with a pair of picks. He’s completing just 57.1
percent of his passes on the year for 1,055 yards and seven touchdowns, with
an addition three scores coming on the ground.
Shaun Wilson is one of the most explosive rushers in the nation. On just 36
carries, he’s picked up 435 yards (12.1 ypc) and four touchdowns, and he’s
added nine receptions for 90 yards as well. Shaquille Powell (200 yards, two
TDs) and Thomas Sirk (173 yards, three TDs) also figure prominently in the
Jamison Crowder is Boone’s top target in the passing game, hauling in 29
passes for 343 yards and two scores. Max McCaffrey (20 receptions, 200 yards,
two TDs) and Issac Blakeney (17 receptions, 196 yards, three TDs) round out
the solid receiving corps.
Duke’s defense has been outstanding this season, allowing just 13.6 ppg and
367.6 ypg. Even in last week’s loss, it held Miami to only 22 points and
forced two turnovers.
David Helton has racked up a team-high 51 tackles. Other defensive standouts
include Jeremy Cash (45 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, INT, two FF), DeVon
Edwards (44 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack, two FF) and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (4.0 TFL,
Georgia Tech’s offense (34.6 ppg, 429.8 ypg) hinges largely on its triple-
option rushing attack, which ranks 12th in the nation in picking up 297.2
rushing yards per game.
Justin Thomas operates the offense from under center and leads the team in
rushing with 470 yards. He doesn’t get many opportunities to throw (36-of-72),
but his limited attempts have resulted in 663 yards and he’s accounted for 10
The Yellow Jackets use a number of rushers but Zach Laskey is the workhorse at
tailback. On 90 carries, he’s picked up 449 yards and score a pair of
DeAndre Smelter makes the most of his receptions, turning 14 catches into 339
yards (24.2 avg) and four touchdowns. Tony Zenon (five receptions, 109 yards)
has also made big plays in the passing game.
Georgia Tech’s defense has been solid enough to support the strong offense, as
the unit surrenders just 23.8 ppg and 391.4 ypg. The offense regularly wins
the time-of-possession battle (33:15), which helps keep the defense fresh.
The unit has eight interceptions from eight different players, including
leading tackler Paul Davis (35 tackles, sack). KeShun Freeman (16 tackles, 4.0
TFL) leads a modest pass-rush with 2.5 sacks.
Georgia Tech’s fast start has finally earned it national recognition, and
it’ll have a great opportunity to prove its worth this week against a strong
Duke squad. Expect the Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack to cause the Blue Devils
fits as they defend their home field and remain unbeaten.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 28, Duke 24