The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breaking News

Local Sports

November 1, 2013

Ga. Tech’s option is not new to Pitt

ATLANTA — Pitt is hoping its schedule provided the perfect setup for this week’s challenge of defending Georgia Tech’s spread-option offense.

Coach Paul Johnson’s option offense is unlike any other attack on most teams’ schedules. It can be an especially daunting challenge for Atlantic Coast Conference newcomers facing Georgia Tech for the first time in Johnson’s six seasons.  Syracuse was crushed 56-0 by the Yellow Jackets only two weeks ago.

The offense won’t be new to Pitt (4-3, 2-2 ACC) tonight, however. The Panthers are coming off last week’s 24-21 loss at Navy, which retained the spread-option offense when Johnson left Annapolis for Georgia Tech.

Even with the loss, Pitt gained valuable experience in preparing for Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2). The Pitt-Navy game also provided Johnson a chance to see the Panthers’ defense play against the offense.

The Panthers’ extra work against the spread option may be no more of an advantage than Johnson’s preview of Pitt’s defense against the scheme. Johnson said the Pitt-Navy film is “good for us to look at, having not played them.” Even so, Johnson said he would prefer to play a team that was not facing the spread option for the second straight week.

“If I’d had my druthers, I would rather them not played Navy,” Johnson said. “It probably benefits them a little more to get the speed of the offense.”

Navy had 220 yards rushing and scored 10 points in the final 4 minutes, including a last-second field goal, to beat the Panthers.

“It’s a challenge,” said Pitt coach Paul Chryst. “Tech obviously runs it very well. We certainly saw it at a different speed Saturday against Navy than we did against our scout team. The disadvantages, (Georgia Tech) got some pretty good film to look at.”

Chryst said the loss to Navy doesn’t mean the Panthers can’t beat Georgia Tech.

Pitt has split its first four ACC games, beating Duke and Virginia and losing to Florida State and Virginia Tech. The Panthers are playing Georgia Tech for the first time since their 1976 national championship season.

Georgia Tech has recovered from three straight losses to Virginia Tech, Miami and BYU with back-to-back wins over Syracuse and Virginia

Here are five things to watch in the matchup of ACC Coastal Division teams:

Blocking Donald: The fullback – or B-back – dive is one of Georgia Tech’s base plays, and waiting in the middle of Pitt’s defense will be senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who has eight sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses. Johnson calls Donald “as good a player as we’ve played against or as we’ve seen.” The Yellow Jackets have struggled with injuries on their offensive line all season, and blocking Donald may require extra attention. That could make it easier for the Panthers to defend option pitches on the perimeter.

Bookend receivers: Pitt senior Devin Street had nine catches against Navy to become Pitt’s all-time leader with 186 receptions. Street’s 35 catches this season are only one more than talented freshman Tyler Boyd, who leads the team with five touchdown catches. Boyd had eight catches, including three for touchdowns, against Duke.

Avoid turnovers: Georgia Tech followed its lopsided win over Syracuse with an ugly 35-25 win at Virginia last week. The Yellow Jackets had to overcome five turnovers, including two interceptions on only a combined nine attempts by Vad Lee and Justin Thomas. Lee has thrown six interceptions this season, and he needs to avoid mistakes to avoid losing snaps to Thomas.

Savage invasion: Pitt senior Tom Savage ranks fifth in the ACC with his average of 220.9 yards passing per game. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes with six interceptions and he tied an ACC record with six scoring passes in a 58-55 win over Duke on Sept. 21. Savage will be a test for an improved Georgia Tech defense which has two shutouts this season but still ranks only 10th in the conference against the pass.

Ruling the red zone: Georgia Tech has scored 25 touchdowns in 30 red-zone possessions. That 83.3 percent success rate inside the 20 is second among FBS schools, trailing only Wyoming at 87.8 percent. The Yellow Jackets have had nine players score on running plays, making it difficult for defenses to key on any one back. David Sims leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns. Zach Laskey and Lee each have six.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014

  • Blairsville pegged as team to beat

    As Heritage Conference football coaches assembled at United High School during Wednesday’s media day event at Thomas J. Madill Field, the near-consensus opinion is that Blairsville – under second-year coach Rick Artley – is going to be the team to beat once the season begins on Aug. 29.
    After the Bobcats, the forecasted picture gets a little foggier.

    July 30, 2014

  • tim Baserunning blunder helps Giants end six-game losing streak

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle. What he watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • shazier Rookie linebacker making impression at Steelers camp

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greene’s No. 75 will be retired at Ravens game

    Joe Greene’s No. 75 now belongs to the ages.
    The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday the team will retire the Hall of Fame defensive end’s number during a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 2.

    July 30, 2014

  • levon Bell planning to do better

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boilers advance in Pony series

    July 29, 2014

  • Martella’s Pharmacy, LAG name AAABA pickup players

    July 28, 2014

AP Video
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Poll

Do you think pet obituaries should be included with death notices?

Yes, my pet is considered a member of the family.
No, pet obituaries are inappropriate.
Pet obituaries should be placed on a different page in the newspaper.
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide