Big Matchup for Pollack

ATHENS -- David Pollack remembers what most people remember about Georgia Tech offensive tackle Nat Dorsey.

"I remember him locking (North Carolina's) Julius Peppers down as a true freshman," David Pollack said.

That game in 2001 did for Dorsey what the 2002 South Carolina game did for Pollack, thrust him into the national spotlight and marked him as a player to watch.

The two will meet Saturday when the No. 5 Bulldogs (9-2) face Georgia Tech (6-5) at Grant Field. It could be the last time the juniors go head-to-head because both are considering an early exit to the NFL.

How much the 6-foot-3, 276-pound Pollack and the 6-6, 330-pound Dorsey will square off is impossible to predict because the Bulldogs rotate Pollack depending on an opponent's formation and tendencies. He will line up against both Dorsey, Tech's left tackle, and Kyle Wallace, the right tackle, but it's the matchup with Dorsey that will stand out.

"(Dorsey) is just such a big man, he takes up a lot of space," said Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. "You combine that with his athleticism, and you've got a heck of an offensive tackle. We have a lot of respect for him."

They should. Dorsey and the Yellow Jackets did a better job than anybody last season of neutralizing Pollack. He had just two tackles, a season low, and one sack.

The Yellow Jackets often used a tight end to "chip" Pollack last year, he said, and he expects more of the same this year. On a chip block, either a tight end or running back helps an offensive tackle by hitting a defensive player on his way to run a pass route.

It's a strategy opponents have used all season to help negate Pollack's impact. His numbers are down this season, but they could hardly have gone up. He was SEC Player of the Year last season after recording 102 tackles and a school-record 14 sacks. He also had 23.5 tackles for loss and 35 quarterback pressures.

He is still getting near the quarterback. He has twice as many pressures as any player on the team (28), but he only has 2.5 sacks, which is tied for third best on the team, and seven tackles for loss.

"He's created a lot of opportunities for others," VanGorder said.

Pollack hasn't had a sack since the Oct. 11 Tennessee game, when he had two and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week. His only double-digit tackle game this season came against Florida three weeks ago, but a lot of his drop in production is a direct result of how much attention he's getting from opponents, VanGorder said.

Despite his diminished numbers, Pollack still commands enough national respect that he is one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award.

Pollack said he's anxious to face Dorsey. There are things he can do to negate Dorsey's size advantage, he said, "but I'm not going to tell you."

"You have to exploit people's weaknesses," he said.

If Pollack can't get pressure on elusive Yellow Jacket quarterback Reggie Ball, who has been sacked 23 times this year, then his teammates will have to take advantage of the attention he gets to do it. Safety Thomas Davis, who plays linebacker in the Bulldogs' nickel defense, leads the Bulldogs with 4.5 sacks. Linebacker Odell Thurman is next with 3.5.

Overall, Georgia is ninth in the SEC with just 18 sacks.

"I think we've had a decent pass rush, not great, but decent," Pollack said.

VanGorder said the Bulldogs' coaching staff has been trying to improve the team's pass rush for the last three years.

"That's a point of emphasis," he said.

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