Last year BYU faced Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington, and held one of the top rushing teams in the nation to just 117 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per carry. This year the Yellow Jacket offense is led by 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound quarterback Vad Lee.
"We've got a new quarterback and he hasn't been quite as proficient as Tevin Washington at running the ball," said Fox Sports Georgia Tech beat reporter Jonathan Leifheit. "He's still kind of feeling his way and learning it. There probably has been more non-triple option run stuff this year than in years past. He is more of a passer, although the stats in the past couple of games haven't shown it."
Lee is a redshirt sophomore, so like BYU's Taysom Hill, he's still young and developing as a quarterback.
"They still run the triple option, but it's been more diverse than what we've seen in years past," said Leifheit. "That's made it a little more difficult for quarterback Vad Lee, who is still kind of finding his way. He's got more to learn in the offense, but he does have more upside to him than what we've seen in the past. What that means is there are times when he looks brilliant and unstoppable and only in his first year starting, but because he's young and new and still growing, he's prone to make mistakes."
Meanwhile, Lee is throwing the ball more than Georgia Tech quarterbacks have in recent years.
"Typically we've been running about a 25-pass-to-75-run ratio," said Leifheit. "This year it's been more of a 70-to-30 [run-to-pass] ratio. It's definitely been a little more pass this year. It's been less triple option and more double/read option and designed gives, but I would say the run-to-pass ratio would be around 70-run-to-30 pass. Then out of the run you'll see less triple option and more the designed gives.
"Then the runs that they've been running are more designed gives or sweeps and whatnot. They've also been running out of a diamond formation, which is more of a read-option type formation."
"I think they have three running backs in the whole game," said Uani Unga. "They like to hit the hole hard on the dive. If we're off just one half a shoulder, it can go for a big run. So with our coaches' game plan, if we just play disciplined, assignment-sound in our responsibilities, we should be fine."
"Then you have the b-back, and he's kind of the fullback that lines up behind the quarterback, and his name is David Sims," said Leifheit. "He's a very, very tough inside runner and will get the tough yards. He will break a couple of tackles and get through there. Zach Laskey is probably a little better in the open field if he gets a seam. They're complementary players from that standpoint.
"Then the a-backs, those are your slot guys and you'll see them go into motion pretty typically on most plays. The first one is Robert Godhigh and he's very, very tough runner and will make a good catch and get some good yards. He'll give a good block and is probably the most complete back out there. Deon Hill had been out with an illness but he came back against Miami [last week], and I expect him to be playing against BYU, so those are your two most complete guys.
"Then backing them up with be Synjyn Days, who is a big strong runner, and Charles Perkins is another one. He's also a big, strong runner as well and sort of finding his way into the depth chart. B.J. Bostic is another a-back that is probably the best pure receiver out of the bunch when they do drop to pass."
Bostic comes in at 5 feet 11 inches and 173 pounds. He will often go into motion and move to the slot receiver position or catch the ball out of the backfield.
"Unless it's an obvious passing down, they'll run the pass from any formation, whether it's the pistol, the diamond, the flex-bone [triple option] formation that everyone is familiar with," said Leifheit. "They run the passing game from all of those. They'll also run it from the pistol formation where it kind of puts the quarterback in a shotgun in a more obvious passing down. You'll see situational rotations going on out there with B.J Bostic getting out there on an obvious passing down because he's the best receiver of the backs, but other than that you'll see the same guys out there most of the time."
The Georgia Tech receivers are bigger and taller in nature to accommodate in the run-blocking game. However, this year they've been asked to catch more, so that's another area where their size comes in handy.
At receiver, the Yellow Jackets feature 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound DeAndre Smelter and 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pound Darren Waller.
"Smelter has been the playmaker of the bunch so far this year, and actually had been playing baseball the last couple of years and had hurt his shoulder," said Leifheit. "He hurt his shoulder and wasn't able to pitch any more, so he came back to play football and has turned out to be the best receiver Georgia Tech's got out there. He really is a pretty good playmaker."
According to Leifheit, Waller struggles with consistency.
"Darren Waller has all the size and talent in the world, but he's still a bit inconsistent and will show up at times, but will disappear at times … Waller is more of your deep threat but needs to be a little more aggressive in going after the ball. He's a big, tall target and needs to go up and get after the ball more, but he's probably more your deeper threat guy.
"From a blocking angle, both of them do a good job. In the passing game Smelter is probably a little more aggressive and will really go up after the ball. He runs his routes a little better. He's probably more your possession guy."
"With guys that started last year, you've got Jay Finch at center, Ray Beno at left tackle, and Shaq Mason at right guard, and Will Jackson at left guard who has started," said Leifheit. "So, you have four of the five guys that have started at points in the past on the offensive line."
Starting from left tackle to right tackle this is what the projected starting Yellow Jacket five will more than likely look like.
Beno is a bit banged up, so his status for this Saturday is somewhat up in the air.
"Beno actually was hurt at Miami for most of the game," said Leifheit. "He hadn't played and I hadn't gotten the status on whether or not he'll play this week, but I believe he was expected to. Beno just has a lot of experience and has been in the program for a while.
"Next to Beno at left guard is Will Jackson, and he's an experienced guard similar to Beno.
The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are very experienced and talented at center and right guard.
"Jay Finch has also been around for a long time and is one of the better centers around," said Leifheit. "He's on a few preseason watch lists and has started quite a few games, including 23 starts, which is a team best.
"At right guard you have probably the best lineman of the bunch in Shaq Mason. He started and kind of came in as a true freshman and started through and continues to improve. I think he's the best one of the bunch."
The Yellow Jackets are also a bit banged up at right tackle.
"Morgan Bailey usually starts at right tackle, but he's been banged up this year and I wouldn't expect to see him a lot," said Leifheit. "Bryan Chamberlain is a redshirt freshman this year and a pretty young player, and will be playing the right tackle position as a result of Bailey being injured."
Key position battles
On the offensive line, the key position battle to watch will be Ray Beno playing BYU defensive star Kyle Van Noy. On the other hand, the key to beating a good option attack is how well the nose guard plays, so a key battle to watch for will be how well senior Eathyn Manumaleuna plays against just as experienced a center in Jay Finch. Romney Fuga did very well in limiting Georgia Tech's dive last year and limited their offensive play to settling for option pitches. Will Manumaleuna have the same effect? BYU's defense will need him to play similar to how Fuga did last year in order to help the defense have similar run-stopping results.