Tech's got options

Over the last couple of weeks of the regular season, many Tiger fans were expecting LSU to end up in the Cotton Bowl matched up against one of the pass-happy offenses from the Big 12 Conference. Those hopes were dashed when the Tigers lost to Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving and the task for an embattled LSU defense has now gone from one end of the spectrum to the complete opposite.

Rather than face a Texas Tech offense that averages more than 400 yards through the air, LSU must now deal with No. 14 Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

 

Under first-year head coach Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jackets (9-3, 5-3 ACC) have the country’s 3rd ranked rushing offense and have been nearly unstoppable on the ground over the last four weeks of the season.

 

Georgia Tech averaged 373.75 yards a game rushing in the month of November and it did so against four teams that are going bowling in Florida State, North Carolina, Miami and Georgia.

 

For the year, the Yellow Jackets average 282.3 yards a game. They’ve run for 278 or more yards on seven occasions, breaking the 300-yard mark twice and going for more than 400 on three occasions.

 

Georgia was the latest victim to succumb to the Yellow Jackets as Johnson’s squad rushed for 409 yards against a Bulldog defense that entered the rivalry game allowing only 104.5 yards a game.

 

LSU’s players have not faced an option offense of this kind since their days in high school, if even then, and some have already gotten a sneak peak at just how strong Georgia Tech’s attack is.

 

"I watched them when they played Georgia and it's a potent offense,” said LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith. “The last time I've seen an option offense is at Parkview [Baptist]. As far as a college football team running it, I haven't seen it. They have great athletes and when you have great athletes with a scheme like that it can be dangerous."

 

Dangerous is the key word and the Yellow Jackets have several talented backs that will present problems for LSU’s defense that is 17th in the nation at stopping the run, allowing 105.7 yards a game.

 

Leading the attack is the ACC’s leading rusher Jonathan Dywer.

 

The six-foot, 228 pound sophomore has rushed for 1,328 yards and 12 touchdowns on 190 carries. He averages 110 yards a game and went for over 100 yards nine times on the year.

 

Redshirt freshman Roddy Jones added 658 yards and averages an eye-popping 9.1 yards a carry, while Lucas Cox added 205 yards on only 25 totes and Jaybo Shaw chipped in with 200 yards.

 

With so many options for quarterback Josh Nesbitt, who is second on the team with 156 carries and third with 631 yards, the Tigers are going to have play smart and stick to their assignments if they hope to slow down the Rambling Wreck.

 

“I guess you could say it's similar to the Wing T so I played against it in high school,” said LSU defensive tackle Marlon Favorite. “When I was at West Jeff, East Jeff used to run something similar to the triple option. It takes a lot of discipline to defend."

 

LSU’s defense has fared much better with stopping the run this season, but the Tiger “D” has been gashed for a lot of big plays. Les Miles’ teams are 3-0 in bowl games since he’s been at LSU when the Tigers have had extra time to prepare for their opponents.

 

Beckwith said the Tigers will spend a lot more time watching film and studying their opponent, and senior defensive end Tyson Jackson expects to see a headman that is intent on ending the season on a positive note.

 

"I expect to see the same Coach Miles,” Jackson said. “He's going to be real strict and disciplined and point out what he saw that we did wrong. After finals clear out and the team gets together one more time I expect to get right back to football business and get back to it quick."

 

LSU dropped four of its last six decisions to end the regular season and for the first time under Miles LSU lost for consecutive weeks.

 

The seniors want to close their college career with a win, while the younger guys look to build some momentum heading into the offseason.

 

While the Chick-fil-A Bowl is not what LSU fans have grown accustomed to after two consecutive BCS appearances, the Tigers say they are still excited and will be ready to play.

 

"You want to end a season with a win and the seniors want to end their careers with a win,” Beckwith said. “For the younger guys, this will be a jump start to their careers and for their next couple seasons.

 

"I think the guys will be really excited after the loss to Arkansas,” added Jackson. “Georgia Tech has a good offense and a good coach and our guys will be fired up."


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