GoJackets.com Preview: GT vs. Wake Forest

Wake Forest (4-5, 2-3) travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech (8-1, 5-1) Saturday at 3:30. The Demon Deacons should be a formidable test for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech went up to Vanderbilt last Saturday and had struggles on defense with a usually weak Commodore offense. The score was tied at 28 at halftime as Georgia Tech's offense was doing what it has usually done lately gaining yards without issue. However, after a 31-28 Vanderbilt lead late in the 3rd quarter, the Yellow Jackets' defense woke up. The defense made the Commodores punt three times the rest of the way and had a takeaway, causing a fumble. The GT special teams also took the ball back on a Vandy fumbled kick return. Giving the ball back so quickly to the offense put the game out reach for Vanderbilt. Tech took the lead and then some to go on to a 56-31 route.

Saturday's game is much more important and has BCS hopes riding on it for Tech. Wake Forest is no push over; and with a target on their backs Georgia Tech has to bring their A-game every week. Aside from the 38-3 loss to Clemson, Wake was in the game for all of their other losses, losing those four games by a total of just ten points. The last two weeks have been heart breakers. Two weeks ago the Demon Deacons lost by three at Navy. They came home last week and let one slip away to Miami, and that was a big slip, too. The Deacs outgained Miami by 199 yards in that game. The loss could largely be attributed to Wake's four turnovers and a missed 44-yard field goal attempt in the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Keys to the Game:

Wake Forest OffenseRiley Skinner. He's one of the ACC's top quarterbacks and the importance of him to his team is indisputable. The senior sustained a concussion last week against Miami in the 4th quarter and has now been cleared to play at Georgia Tech. Wake's offensive attack will hinge on whether Riley is fully back to health and if he is able to make the usual plays in an offense averaging 400 yards per game this year.

Georgia Tech OffenseTurnovers. Georgia Tech's turnover margin is very good this year, and this game this stat could be most important. As close as Wake Forest has kept their games, Georgia Tech doesn't need to give them any extra chances. If quarterback Josh Nesbitt continues to engineer the offense as he has, and does it Saturday without giving Wake the ball, the game shouldn't be as close as Wake is used to playing.

Wake Forest DefenseTaking Advantage. Thinking about what Wake needs to do isn't so obvious. Stopping Paul Johnson's offense seems easiest when the opponent's offense takes a big early lead, causes fumbles, and when Tech is called for penalties on offense. Looking at the season's stats doesn't lead anyone to believe that the Demon Deacon defense will be causing many turnovers or hold Georgia Tech to a significantly low amount of yards. Against seven BCS opponents, Wake has given up an average of 377 yards per game. So, if or when Georgia Tech is called for a penalty on offense, Wake's defense needs to take advantage and get a stop. If Wake's offense can get up early by a couple scores and force GT to panic a little bit, that would help, too.

Georgia Tech DefenseOvercoming Adversity. The Yellow Jacket defense is faced with significant injuries at the moment. Besides linebacker Kyle Jackson and safety Cooper Taylor out for the season, defensive end Robert Hall has missed most of the year and still may miss the whole season. Linebackers Julian Burnett and Steven Sylvester have been banged up recently. Cornerback Jerrard Tarrant and safety Dominique Reese are both listed as questionable for Saturday's game. Tech needs some of their backups to step up no matter what. On the bright side, the GT defense has been solid at home this year in four games, giving up an average of under 248 yards per game in Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Who to Watch:

WF WR #3 Devon Brown - The 5'9" receiver had a big game for Wake Forest last Saturday against Miami. The sophomore had 12 catches for 101 yards. Expect him to see the ball coming his way again on Saturday as he proves to be another good option in Wake's receiving corps.

GT B-back #21 Jonathan Dwyer - Dwyer has been on a roll lately, rushing for 736 yards and six touchdowns his last six games. When Wake lost to Navy two weeks ago (Navy runs the same type of offense), they couldn't stop the guy who plays Dwyer's position. Could it be yet another big game for #21?

WF SS #5 Cyhl Quarles - Quarles leads the team in solo tackles with 31 this season. The Demon Deacons will need him to come up and make plays on the perimeter to help stop Tech's option attack.

GT ROV #1 Morgan Burnett - Burnett is having another strong year, but Tech fans are hoping they hear his number called out excitedly from the P.A. announcer on Saturday. It's been a few games since GT has had an interception, and one against Wake would prove huge. Burnett is the obvious candidate to make the big play on Saturday. He has 44 tackles and four interceptions this season.

Summary: Yes, some Tech fans may have good reason to be a little nervous on Saturday. Wake Forest can play with anybody and their offense is very tough to deal with. However, those fans should be smiling come Saturday's end as head coach Paul Johnson's team has proven this year that they can finish games, whereas head coach Jim Grobe's team just quite hasn't.


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