In a game always considered a warm up for the Yellow Jackets before the demanding ACC schedule starts next week the Elon Phoenix provided little challenge but it was a useful opportunity on the Labor Day weekend for players deep in Johnson's roster to get game experience and spread the workload.
Thirteen different players rushed the ball for a total of 369 yards and six touchdowns and five different receivers combined for 189 yards and two touchdowns. It was also a good day for the special teams as they contributed two more scores. Every phase of Georgia Tech's game got some good time except a punting unit that was only called upon once all afternoon.
Georgia Tech has to be encouraged by its rushing performance. While Elon is not in the same class at Georgia Tech their defense will face a "triple offense" four times this year so they emphasize defending against this offensive style. It is unlikely that Elon will face a team as proficient all year. Tech rushed the ball 50 times and averaged 7.4 yards a carry.
Vad Lee ran the offense well for his career first start; seven drives resulted in seven touchdowns and he rushed the ball six times for 49 yards and completed 7 of 11 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. His back-up, Justin Thomas, who took over in the third quarter, was Tech's leading rusher on the afternoon with 53 yards on five attempts. Overall a very positive day for Georgia Tech's offensive unit.
The defense that, last year, was porous before switching defensive coordinators and systems demonstrated the benefits of more time to implement the 4-3 defense. Not a point was allowed; Elon only got in the red zone once and the defensive unit forced four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble) all of which resulted in Tech touchdowns including a 95 yard interception return for six by linebacker Tyler Marcodes.
“We were in a zone, and I just played my coverage,” Marcordes said. “The quarterback threw it right to me, and, after that, guys made blocks to help me get it all the way down.”
Overall Tech's defense allowed only 272 yards of offense.
Coach Johnson was generally happy with the afternoon, “Well, obviously when you win by a score that large, you did some things well.' Johnson said, adding, 'We need to build on those. There’s also an awful lot that we didn’t do well. We’ve got a lot to work on to get ready. Right now, the plan is that we’ll take a couple of days off and come back on Wednesday and get ready for league play.”
“We have to go up to Duke. It’s been an awfully tough game the last couple of years and that’s a hard place to go play. We’re going to try to clean up what we did do well and learn from that and accentuate the positive, move on and get better.”
This season is the 100th anniversary of the Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, the oldest tenured stadium in the FBS. ESPN have listed it on their "bucket list" of must see venues. Paul Johnson and his 2013 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hope to provide a season worthy of the field's centennial. Saturday was a good start!