ACC Championship Game

I will confess that I wrote a post back in the Spring after watching the Georgia Tech Spring Game and I was going to blast them.

But, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are maybe the surprise team of this 2014 football season and head coach Paul Johnson is easily a top candidate for coach of the year.

Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech run the Flexbone offense. I am not desiring to write an article about the Flexbone offense and that would probably be boring, anyway.

Let’s just say that it’s a tough offense to prepare for on short notice.

Florida State fans should be more than just a little concerned about this game.

The Flexbone works really well if you have a solid Offensive Line, a smooth operator at Quarterback and a solid Fullback and the Tech offense has all three of those requirements met.

Sophomore Quarterback Justin Thomas makes the Georgia Tech offense work like a charm. Senior Fullbacks Zack Laskey and Synjyn Days are hard running backs that have combined for 1,434 yards and 11 Touchdowns.

Georgia Tech is ranked 4th in the entire nation in rushing only behind Georgia Southern, Navy and Wisconsin and averaging around 6 yards per carry.

Stopping the Flexbone, like the earlier Wishbone Offense begins with stopping the run from the inside out. If the offense, like most any other offense gets the run game going it is particularly hard to stop. Florida State will have to stop the Fullback’s Laskey and Days or they will lose their first game in over 2 years.

If you can manage to stop the inside run with the Fullback, then you have to play assignment football on the outside. A speedy defense with solid Defensive Tackles and a great Middle Linebacker should have little problem with the Flexbone.

Florida State does have a lot of speed on defense, but for whatever reason they have struggled with the run in some games this season.

Their run defense is ranked 43rd in the country. This is not a terrible run game defense and they have had a few good games this year and shut down the run. But, in several games they have been run all over.

They gave up 250 yards on the ground to The Citadel and 240 yards against Boston College. Yet, they really played well against Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia and for the most part  against Florida.

Which Florida State run defense will show up Saturday against Georgia Tech?

Those old Oklahoma Wishbone offenses featured a super quick Quarterback able to make the right decision faster than the blink of an eye. The wrong guy at Quarterback and it just didn’t work efficiently.

The Flexbone is a similar type triple option offense that requires the right guy at Quarterback and he looks almost like he is doing magic tricks with the football.

Justin Thomas is just that guy at Quarterback for the Georgia Tech offense. It appears sometimes as if he is a magician with the football in his hands.

He has run for 861 yards and 5 Touchdowns. Through the air, Thomas has thrown for 1,460 yards and another 16 Touchdowns against only 4 Interceptions.

Those are not overly impressive stats, but that’s not the point. The Quarterback is the guy that makes this offense all come together and Justin Thomas just leads this team down the field.

The Georgia Tech defense looked really good against Georgia and against Clemson. Other than that, they have struggled at times defensively.

Florida State is coming off of Jameis Winston’s worst performance as a Quarterback. They are still 12-0 and have won 28 straight games.

Last season, the Seminoles impressed with huge win after huge win. This season, it has been close win after close win, and everyone has lost faith in them. Last year, Winston threw for 4057 yards and 40 Touchdowns with 10 total Interceptions. This season, Winston has 3,250 yards and 21 Touchdowns against 17 total

Interceptions. He threw a career high 4 Interceptions last week against Florida and only 125 yards.

Jameis Winston has struggled all season. Will the struggles continue against Georgia Tech? I have no reason to believe that he won’t play about as well as he has all season, maybe good enough to win, again. But, maybe the close calls will finally catch up with the Seminoles.

It’s not just Winston, however, and it never really is all on the Quarterback.

The Seminoles ran for 2,844 yards last season at 5.6 yards per carry. They were led by Devonta Freeman’s 1,016 yards rushing. This season, they have run for 1,574 yards at 4.2 yards per carry.

The Offensive Line returned 4 starters, but they lost their starting Center and his replacement was just not getting it done. They moved All American Offensive Tackle Cameron Erving to Center and moved 6-7, 330 true freshman Roderick Johnson into Erving’s Left Tackle position and production has improved in recent games.

 

Florida State’s defense in 2013 was loaded across the board. This season the defense was supposed to be about as good as last season, but it just hasn’t happened.

Georgia Tech should not be able to stop Jameis Winston and the Florida State offense. But, my question is will Florida State be able to stop Justin Thomas and the Tech Fullbacks up the middle.

If they can’t the run in this game, then we might have a new ACC champion in Georgia Tech.

They have surprised the nation with a 10-2 record, cut can they pull off one more huge surprise and down the Florida State Seminoles?

We will find out on Saturday.

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