Dawgs know Jackets will bring the house

ATHENS - Running back Thomas Brown is looking forward to a busy day Saturday against Georgia Tech, but that doesn't mean he's expecting many carries or many yards.

Brown has no illusions about his primary job against the Yellow Jackets' blitz-happy defense -- block for quarterback D.J. Shockley, block and then block some more.

"It doesn't matter if I get 100 yards rushing if Shockley is laying on his back," Brown said.

Shockley on his back is a distinct possibility this week. Georgia Tech blitzes on about 75 percent of its defensive snaps, Georgia coach Mark Richt estimated, and the Yellow Jackets are third in the ACC and 12th in the nation in sacks with 31.

Coach Jon Tenuta's defense is fourth in the ACC in yards allowed (299.4 per game) and fifth in points allowed (18.9 per game).

"He's going to constantly bring pressure," Richt said. "That's (just) what he's going to do."

A lot of the responsibility for picking up that pressure falls on running backs, who have to take on blitzing linebackers.

"There are a lot of people scheme-wise who are sticking their hats on the right guy, but they are not blocking them very good," Richt said. "It's mostly backs. Backs must block against this defense to give your quarterback time and space to throw the ball. When their linebackers blitz, they are not much for dancing around. They run right over your tailback and knock him back in the quarterback's face."

Brown said he doesn't plan on getting knocked anywhere.

"I'm never the type to back down from anything," he said. "If you try to attack my quarterback, I'm going to hit you in the mouth. It doesn't matter how many times you come, I'm going to keep hitting you in the mouth."

If the statistics are any indicator, Tenuta is gradually getting a feel for stopping Richt's offense. In their first meeting, Georgia rolled up 552 yards and 51 points. The Bulldogs' numbers have gone gradually down since, culminating with last year's game, when Tech held Georgia to 226 yards and 19 points.

Unlike most heavy-blitz teams that Georgia has faced in the last few years, the Yellow Jackets play mostly zone coverage behind their blitzes. That cuts down on the chances of a team beating the blitz with big plays against man-to-man coverage like the Bulldogs did last year against LSU. It also will force Shockley to hold the ball longer looking for receivers.

"In man coverage, you usually (throw) to the first guy," Richt said. "In this scheme, there are times they bring more than you can block, but most of the time you can get enough blockers on them, but you may not be able to hit your first progression because its zone coverage."

Shockley compared the Yellow Jackets to a hybrid of the Auburn and Arkansas defenses.

"They're fast like Auburn, and they blitz like Arkansas," he said.

Arkansas blitzed Georgia this year as much as Tech will, but Arkansas' blitzing scheme is much less complicated, Brown said.

"Their coaches are really good at picking up the blocking assignments of other teams and calling their blitzes around that," Georgia center Ryan Schnetzer said. "You've got to be a lot more focused with them definitely."

Georgia will have two things in its favor against Tenuta's defense -- its no-huddle offense and Shockley's athleticism.

The no-huddle will make it more difficult for Tech to set up everything it wants to do.

"They do a lot of different things on defense, and if we're hurrying to the line, it's kind of hard for them to get their calls in, hard for them to get their different blitzes in, hard for them to disguise what they're doing," Shockley said.

Shockley's job will be to buy himself some more time on the inevitable occasion that a Jacket defender gets to him.

"I would hope that at times Shockley will avoid some pressure, maybe buy some time or cross the line of scrimmage and get a key first down here and there," Richt said.

If Brown has his way, there won't be too much of that.

Richt vs. Tenuta

Year Yards Rushing Passing Points
2004 552 230 322 51
2003 341 106 235 34
2002 226 34 192 19


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