“I would say we’re focused more on GT because we don’t have as much time,” said junior tailback Charles Scott. “Other bowl games have been in early January, but this one is Dec. 31. So I would think that’s the biggest difference. We are getting on Georgia Tech because the game is going to be here before you know it.”
With that in mind, Scott and company had better get to work. Much is made of the Tigers’ defensive collapse this season, but the LSU offense finished up 2008 by scoring just seven combined second half points in games against Ole Miss and Arkansas.
“I think the offense as a whole hit a wall,” Scott said. “Early on it wasn’t that consistent, and it just got worse as the season went on. We point out the fact that the last three games we just played terrible on offense.
“Not one guy hit a wall, we all hit a wall,” added Scott. “It was a guy here, a guy there. I might have missed a cut, somebody might have missed a block, somebody might have dropped a ball, somebody might have thrown a pick. It was everybody. We were all kind of just messing up at different times and being real inconsistent.”
LSU fans no doubt recall Scott’s disappointing finish, combining for 47 yards over the final two games. The junior, and the entire Tiger backfield, will be hoping for improvement. Whether better blocking or improved play from the quarterback position, something will have to give for LSU to gain ground against Tech’s No. 22 rushing defense.
“They’ve got some solid guys on defense. They have guys that are going to make plays,” said junior tight end Richard Dickson. “They have All-Americans on their defense. So we’re going to have to make plays on offense too.”
Then there is of course Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. This isn’t the first or last thing which will be written about Georgia Tech’s No. 3 rushing offense, but it is obviously a hot topic for a defense which is allowing an average of five yards per play.
“That offense is pretty tricky. Guys have to be disciplined at all times,” said senior defensive end Tyson Jackson. “All 11 guys have to be at the right spot. It’s not about making the big plays, just about making plays consistently for four quarters.
“It’s a big opportunity for us to come out for the last time, especially for the seniors,” continued Jackson. “Just to come out and prove we still got it. And leaving a positive mark on our last game I think would be real big for the program for it to move on forward from there. But it’s going to be a real challenge for us to face an offense like this. They’re going to challenge us in all phases of the game.”
But things may not be as bleak as they seem. The Tigers are ranked No. 17 in rushing defense, giving up 105 yards a game – however that’s only an average of 30 yards better than the Georgia defense which gave up 400 to the Yellow Jackets.
The Tigers’ bigger problem, a No. 81 pass defense, may get a break this time around against Tech’s No. 116 passing offense, a unit which averages only 95 yards per game.
“We are giving each person a different person to key on. Whatever the person does, we have to play off of that,” said junior linebacker Perry Riley. “We have certain things to do if he steps out or steps down. Everybody just has to key on what they’re supposed to key on and we should be alright.”
In-depth analysis is sure to come from TigerSportsDigest.com, but for the Tigers themselves the work had better come sooner than later. With one less week to prepare, Georgia Tech is already looming.