Last week the Jackets took a big step forward in defeating North Carolina. This week the Jackets have an interesting matchup on the road in Raleigh against the NC State Wolfpack. Tom O'Brien is at the helm for his fifth year at the State school on Tobacco Road. Last year the Jackets suffered a 45-28 defeat at home to the Pack. Russell Wilson had a lot to do with that score and has since moved on to play for the Badgers of Wisconsin. Mike Glennon takes over this year at QB and looks to pull NC State out of the cellar of the Atlantic division after a 2-2 start that includes an ACC loss to Wake Forest.
While the Pack have been middle of the road at scoring points it's all been incumbent upon Mike Glennon (former Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon's brother) to score those points. He's done pretty well but has shown a propensity to be susceptible to interceptions against FBS level defenses. The running game has been virtually nonexistent. The Pack rank 11th in the conference and 109th in the nation in rushing with 85 yards per game. The offensive line just hasn't been up to snuff and has allowed consistent pressure and push from opponents' down lineman. This will be a curious matchup against the Jackets since the down lineman are used more to occupy space while linebackers are used to apply pressure.
Wide receiver T.J. Graham is a player to watch carefully as he is a game changer. He is averaging over 100 yards per game receiving and has a punt return for a touchdown. He is 1st in the nation with 230 all purpose yards per game. Tech will need to show some improvement in their kick coverage this week to make sure T.J. Graham doesn't flip the field.
Pack fans have to be nervous about their defense though. They are giving up over 400 yards per game and 139 on the ground. Georgia Tech comes in leading the nation in both total offense and scoring offense. Injuries up front have been devastating for the Wolfpack and 3 out of the 4 starters are no longer in the lineup. O'Brien will shift some players around up front and will even have to play some walk-ons. That's certainly not an ideal situation any week, but especially when going up against this vaunted Georgia Tech offense that seems to have found its balance this year. Tech fans are also well aware of Jon Tenuta's tendency to want to blitz. If he chooses to do on Saturday and those blitzes don't hit their targets then the Jackets could see some big play possibilities.
Coach Johnson and the Jackets have talked about gradually taking steps. UNC may have been a better team but this will be the Jackets' first true road test. The Jackets can't afford to take a step back in this game if they want to continue their march toward an ACC championship. Most pundits are predicting a win fairly handily, but Coach Johnson told the team they need to have "tunnel vision" and take each game week by week. This is the type of game Georgia Tech has faltered in at times in the past. This 2011 team has tried to prove they are a different team and can do that with a win in Raleigh this Saturday.
Who: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (HC Paul Johnson) vs. NC State Wolfpack (HC Tom O'Brien)
When: Saturday October 1st, 2011 @ 3:30 pm (ABC/ESPN)
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina
- Georgia Tech has sold out it's allotment to this game.
- The Jackets are 4-0 for the first time since the 1990 national championship season.
- If the Jackets win Saturday then they will be one of only 2 undefeated teams in the ACC (Clemson or Virginia Tech as the other).
- The Jackets are the most improved team in the country from 2010 to 2011 in terms of total offense.