Road to Tampa Bay: Game 6 - Georgia Tech.

Florida State will be out looking for blood in what could be the biggest game played in Tallahassee in years when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come to town on October 10th. FSU will be looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss after the Tribe drove down field in the last minute and fumbled on the goal line costing them the game.

This will be the second season for Georgia Tech under head coach Paul Johnson. In his first season, his triple-option offense was a major success in the ACC as the Jackets won nine games in the regular season behind the fourth most productive rushing offense in the nation.

That same offense has lost just two starters from last season but return the key elements in quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones. The biggest problem is the health of Nesbitt and the offensive line remains a concern. Nesbitt missed a few games and most of the spring with injuries last year.

If this team can stay healthy, they will once again be giving fits to the entire ACC. Georgia Tech will also look to beat defenses through the air this season as they have worked on incorporating more passing plays into their offense. Coach Johnson knows that the option attack is the heart of the offense, but knows he will need to do a better job to keep defenses honest this season, and will be looking to test almost every team deep a few times a game with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews will have to search deep in his bag of tricks to find a way to stop the Yellow Jacket's offense as they run the majority of their option plays out of a spread formation under center. Andrews has now had much success stopping spread offenses and a team that can effectively run the option out of it makes this game even scarier for the FSU faithful.

The Boston College game which precedes this one will give a better idea of how Florida State's defensive line will stack up this season when they take on Georgia Tech. FSU has two upper classmen in the middle of the defensive line in Kendrick Stewart and Justin Mincey but neither have shown the ability to be consistent run stoppers to this point. Sophomores Moses McCray and Everette Dawkins could overtake them for playing time if they deem themselves worthy in the first half of the season. Either way, players in the middle must step up to slow down the Jackets rushing attack. Almost every big play last season came from Dwyer running right up the gut of the Florida State defense and that must change this season in order for FSU to keep GT in check.

Defensively, the Jackets lose three studs from arguably the best defensive line in the ACC last season. Defensive end Michael Johnson and tackles Darryl Richard and Vance Walker have all departed and GT must find players to step up in their place or else they will be very weak up front leaving opportunity open for opposing offenses. Yet again, this helps Florida State with what is expected to be a very potent rushing attack. Last season, Jermaine Thomas had a coming out party against GT as he carried the ball nine times for 130 yards. Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon and company will have to open lanes and allow Thomas to try for an encore.

In the secondary, the Jackets have one of the best safeties in the conference in Morgan Burnett, who had 93 tackles and seven interceptions last season. Burnett is a ball hawk and can hit like a sledge hammer as he takes every opportunity he sees. Christian Ponder will have to keep an eye on him as Florida State takes to the air in this one.

What Florida State must do to win: Not give up the big play. Florida State had a lot of trouble stopping Georgia Tech last season, and had Nesbitt finished the game, it may not have been close at all. The Seminoles need to remain disciplined on defense staying at home and not missing tackles. If they can avoid giving up the big play, it is possible to force enough punts allowing them to control the ball and the tempo of the game.

NoleDigest way too early prediction: Both defenses will have trouble stopping the other team's offense in this one. It is possible to see over 400 yards on the ground between the two teams and a lot of points. The game is being played in Tallahassee which will benefit FSU greatly as three of GT's four losses last season came away their home field. A season later, GT should be better at running their offense, but other teams should start to pick up on how to stop it as LSU did in last year's Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Florida State will be more disciplined on defense this year and as long as the defense progresses the way they can, they should be able to hold Georgia Tech back enough for the offense to win this game is a close one.

FSU 34 GT 31

*FSU 6-0 (3-0 ACC)

Stay tuned to NoleDigest all month as we continue out "Road to Tampa Bay" series with out next installment looking at the North Carolina Tar Heels.

*Based on NoleDigest's way too early predictions.

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