There’s now a little room for me to stretch my legs as I sit here in my seat on the Georgia Tech bandwagon. All the keyboard warriors have vented their frustration and let us know just who among them really has nothing else to do with their lives other than second guess Paul Johnson on a message board. Those of us who haven’t jumped ship on the 2009 season know that this Saturday, the Tech program has a chance to take a major...nay, gargantuan...leap forward.
Beat Clemson for the second time this season, and it’s off to the program’s first BCS bowl. It’s not just a good bowl that pays a lot of money, it’s the Orange Bowl—a place close enough that many Tech fans, even in a slumping economy, can afford to make the trip and show all the BCS bowl committees that taking Tech as an at-large bid in future seasons would be a good thing for a bowl’s attendance. Playing in and winning the Orange Bowl would also do wonders for recruiting.
Of course, there’s also the effect on this season. Winning Saturday night and winning a bowl game would allow Tech to finish with 12 wins for the first time since 1952. An ACC title would be Tech’s first outright title since 1990 and would cap off an excellent effort by a group of young, banged-up players that are only going to get better. The Orange Bowl also provides some badass swag to participating players.
In case you hadn’t guessed, Saturday night is huge.
It will come down to three main things. As for the first two...call me old-school, but I believe that to win football games, you MUST do two things: run the football and stop the run. If you do nothing else well except for those two things, you have a chance in every game. Clemson’s defense has a bunch of future NFL players and it won’t be easy, but remember that Tech ran for 301 yards against the Tigers on September 10. Not too shabby. Tech’s offense is working better now than it did in September. As for Tech’s run defense, it will be all about assignments. Against Georgia, Tech’s LBs overran plays and the DL got shoved around, opening up cutback lanes en route to Georgia’s 6 million rushing yards. If that happens again Saturday, C.J. Spiller will make one cut and he’s gone. It is essential to turn plays inside and bottle him up. Also, don’t be surprised if Tech puts a spy on Spiller to counter those wheel routes (Spiller burned Tech for a 63-yard TD on one in the first matchup).
The third “thing” that will decide the game is adjustments. Paul Johnson will look at what Clemson’s defense did in September and tweak the blocking schemes. He’ll then look at what they’re doing on the first few drives and adjust again. Will Dave Wommack properly adjust Tech’s D? Let’s hope whatever he dials up first does the trick. The bigger issue is this: Whose ability to make on-the-fly adjustments do you trust more...Paul Johnson or Dabo Swinney? That’s what I thought, and that’s why Tech will win another shootout.