GoJackets.com Preview: GT vs FSU

Florida State comes to Atlanta owning victories over Georgia Tech the last 12 times the teams have played. Florida State rallied back in the 4th quarter to win 14-13 at Tallahassee in 2003. The Seminoles (6-1, 3-1) are currently the ACC's highest ranked team at 15th in the BCS standings and are the first ranked opponent this year for Georgia Tech.

Florida State comes to Atlanta owning victories over Georgia Tech the last 12 times the teams have played. Florida State rallied back in the 4th quarter to win 14-13 at Tallahassee in 2003. At the time, Georgia Tech had been making a habit of losing close ones in this matchup. The Seminoles (6-1, 3-1) are the ACC's highest ranked team at 15th in the BCS standings and are the first ranked opponent this year for Georgia Tech. They control their destiny as far as reaching the ACC championship goes. Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2) was in the same exact position last week playing Virginia and hopes to knock off the Seminoles, just like Virginia did to the Yellow Jackets. Both teams are also looking for a win to make themselves bowl-eligible.

Breakdown:

Georgia Tech Offense - The Yellow Jackets' offense looked pretty good last week and only stopped themselves twice in the game with Virginia on two fumbles in the 3rd quarter. Those mishaps though cost them the game. Many fans were upset with sophomore quarterback Josh Nesbitt, but Head Coach Paul Johnson was quick to defend his quarterback this week saying that there were plenty of other mistakes made by the team and that the loss didn't hang on Nesbitt's shoulders.

Even so, Nesbitt ran well at times as did star B-back Jonathan Dwyer. Roddy Jones emerged as a proven play-maker, giving the Yellow Jackets four solid ones that include Jones, Nesbitt, Dwyer, and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The key for Georgia Tech on offense will be minimizing the mistakes. No fumbles and no penalties will lead to a smoother ride against a very tough Seminole defense.

Impact Player - Jonathan Dwyer 94.3 rush ypg, 6 total TDs

Florida State Offense - The Seminoles' offense comes into the game averaging 34 points on a four-game win streak after losing to Wake Forest 12-3. The Seminoles are run dominant averaging 198 yards per game on the ground, but are setting up the pass nicely averaging 197 yards through the air. Those stats are pretty impressive considering the offensive line has been referred to as "weak and inexperienced" by many.

Sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder seems to be the leader Florida State has been looking for the last few years. Ponder's stats are impressive in respect to other ACC quarterbacks this year with nine touchdowns and six interceptions on 1119 yards passing. The backbone of the offense though is running back Antone Smith. Smith is rushing for 77 yards per game and leading the conference with 11 touchdowns. As he goes, the Seminoles will go.

FSU's red zone offense has been outstanding, scoring at a 93% rate. The key for the Seminoles offense in this game will come on 3rd downs. If they complete their passes to their big wide receivers, they could do what Virginia did in Atlanta last week.

Impact Player - Antone Smith 77.1 ypg, 12 total TDs

Georgia Tech Defense - The Yellow Jacket defense finally looked vulnerable at times last week, missing tackles and assignments. They did conjure up three turnovers but were eaten up by Virginia's conservative attack. Tech though is still ranked 12th in the nation for total defense, 15th in the nation for pass defense, a 19th in the nation in rush defense. The key is in the red zone as Tech is 7th in the nation in scoring defense. The Yellow Jackets are also third in 3rd in the nation with 14 interceptions, led by safety Morgan Burnett with a nation-leading six picks.

Tech's front seven will be called upon to lead them to victory. Stopping the run is a must for them. Senior defensive tackles Darryl Richard and Vance Walker, and linebackers Kyle Jackson and Sedric Griffin, will play a huge role in trying to stop FSU's running game. If they get through the line to stop Smith and get pressure on Ponder, Tech's interception count may grow.

Impact Player - Morgan Burnett 55 Tkls, 4 TFL, 6 INTs

Florida State Defense - Florida State's defense has been its best part of the team, just like Georgia Tech. FSU ranks 3rd in the nation in total defense, 14th in pass defense, 7th in rush defense, and 18th in scoring defense. Senior linebacker Derek Nicholson and junior safety Myron Rolle will be key in leading the Seminoles to stop the Yellow Jackets' running game. Nicholson leads the team in tackles with 41.

FSU may possess more speed than any defense Tech has faced. If their linemen can disrupt the Tech offensive line, they may have a hay-day with Tech's option. Missing an assignment against this offense can prove fatal and the Seminoles defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews hopes his unit will be on its game.

Impact Player - Myron Rolle 38 Tkls, 5 passes defended


Summary:

This game should pick up where the series left off five seasons ago with the usual close and exciting game. Tech will be ready to change what the usual outcome used to be. Florida State is riding high with a lot of confidence as they try to get even closer to securing a berth in the conference championship game. Tech can't afford any mistakes on offense. Florida State has to get their running game going. I look for whichever team wins the turnover battle to win the game. Will the Seminoles make it five wins in a row on the season? Or, will the Yellow Jackets gain some respect back and some long-overdue revenge over Florida State?


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