2009 Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: Georgia Tech

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The Hokies return to Atlanta on Saturday for a big divisional game with the
erratic Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. At times the Rambling Wreck has looked
terrific this season, and at other times Georgia Tech has looked awful. Why have
the Yellow Jackets been so inconsistent? Which GT will Virginia Tech likely see
this weekend? These are but a few of the questions going into this key game.

The battle of the Techs has been one of the most difficult to predict in the
ACC over the last few years. Both teams have unexpectedly blown out the other,
and each team generally plays well at the other’s home field, so this series has
become one of the more interesting new rivalries in the ACC. Predicting this
game has always been difficult, but the inconsistent play of the Yellow Jackets
this year makes this match-up particularly troublesome to analyze.

Georgia Tech dominated Clemson in the first half only to see the Tigers rally
from a three-touchdown deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. GT pulled
the game out with a late field goal. Miami outplayed the Yellow Jackets in all
phases of the game, completely shutting down the multi-option offense of Paul
Johnson. The next week, Georgia Tech controlled the ball for over 42 minutes
against UNC and completely shut down the Tar Heel offense. GT then won shoot
outs against Mississippi State and Florida State with over 2,000 yards combined
total offense in the two games.

Youth is probably the major reason for Georgia Tech’s erratic play this year,
with only three senior starters and only ten seniors on the roster. However, the
Yellow Jackets return nine starters on offense and eight starters on defense, so
inexperience should not be the problem. But the five starters that were lost do
explain at least some of the Rambling Wreck’s difficulties.

Georgia Tech lost both starting offensive tackles from last year, including
first-team all-conference left tackle Andrew Gardner, a four-year starter. GT
also lost their all-conference defensive tackles, Vance Walker and Darryl
Richard, as well as third-round NFL draft choice Michael Johnson at defensive
end. Teams,

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