Dawgs Very, Very Impressed with Tech

ATHENS – Mark Richt didn't think there was much chance his Georgia Bulldogs would overlook Georgia Tech just because they had beaten the Yellow Jackets seven straight times.

Tech has a new head coach this year who has pointed to the Georgia game as a crucial showdown for his team. The Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense has been intimidating defenses all season, their defense is strong and they'll enter this year's rivalry game with a ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll.

But just in case there was any doubt the Bulldogs were taking this year's Georgia Tech game seriously, Richt said Thursday's trashing of his alma mater at the hands of the Yellow Jackets has his players focused on the task at hand.

"I know a lot of our guys, if not almost all of them, watched that game, and I'm sure it got their attention," Richt said.

Tech toppled Miami 41-23 while racking up 472 rushing yards in a game the Bulldogs paid close attention to.

Georgia had its second bye of the season last week, and most of the players made a point to be in front of their televisions to get an early leg up on scouting the Yellow Jackets.

"They looked very impressive, there's no doubt about that," Richt said of Tech's win Thursday. "It was a great game for them at their home. Their fans were into and their players played great against a top-25 team."

While Georgia's players may have spent the weekend worrying about Tech, the coaching staff was on the road recruiting. Sunday, the staff began implementing the film from the Yellow Jackets' win over Miami into the game plan they had already developed, and Richt said the team will be ready for business when the start practice again today after a weekend off.

"We had a very good base from the entire season besides the Miami game to put the plan together and make some decisions on it," Richt said. "But the final piece of the puzzle came with the Miami game, and we're nailing down those things so when we meet with our guys (today) we'll be ready to go."

The benefit of the off week extended beyond adding a bit of free time for watching TV for the Bulldogs.

Several players took trips home to visit family, other relaxed around Athens, but the key, Richt said, is that they weren't on a football field.

"I think it will help our guys to be more fresh since they won't have taken the pounding of a regular football weekend," Richt said. "We'll put the pads on Monday and try to simulate the game against the scout team as soon as possible."

Richt said simulating Tech's offense is no easy task for Georgia's scout teams, but the Yellow Jackets' offense is far from Georgia's only concern.

Tech's defense dominated Miami for much of the game Thursday and is the top unit in the ACC in scoring defense. The front four is especially dangerous, Richt said, with 6-foot-7 defensive end Michael Johnson leading the way.

Johnson has 36 tackles – including 13 for a loss – and six pass breakups this season and opened Tech's scoring against Miami by intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown.

Johnson's size and strength make him a significant problem for the Bulldogs both on defense and special teams, Richt said.

"If he can read that you're trying to cut block him, he just does a beautiful job of stopping his run and getting a hand on the (lineman) and has the ability to elevate and bat down balls," Richt said. "He's also outstanding on extra-point and field-goal blocks. He times that up extremely well. He's definitely a guy you have to be concerned about."

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