A Closer Look: Georgia Tech

JacketsOnline.com publisher Kelly Quinlan broke down UNC's Saturday opponent, Georgia Tech, for Tar Heel Illustrated's readers.
We asked Quinlan five key questions about the Yellow Jackets, who like UNC bring a 3-0 record into Saturday's ACC Coastal Division matchup. Kickoff is set for just after noon eastern time on ESPN.
Georgia Tech's running game is well known as unique and extremely difficult to defend. What it is about this scheme that makes it so hard to prepare for?

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The key to slowing down or stopping a triple option is discipline. You have to defend your one player or assignment and that goes against how most coaches teach their defense. If you flow to the ball, they can pitch it or reverse it or even throw the ball and your defender is out of position and you end up with a touchdown.
It can be mind numbing for defenses because Tech will run the same play three or four times in a row when it is working and then pitch it outside for a touchdown by lulling the defense to sleep.
What has GT done to address some of the defensive concerns of last year? How has defensive coordinator Al Groh perhaps changed some things up?
The classic one-liner about Groh's 3-4 defense is that it takes 3-4 years to install and learn it. They used a very vanilla defensive scheme in 2010 and it showed a lot and Tech lacked athleticism at linebacker position.
The 2011 squad is more athletic and they have played a lot better. Groh has mixed up the defense quite a bit this year to match how offenses compared to last season when they just had a base package and a nickel look.
Tech runs the 3-4, a 2-5-4, 3-3-5, 2-4-5 and even 1-4-6 look on defense at times. The biggest difference this year has been halftime adjustments. Tech hasn't allowed a score in the third quarter of any of their games.
The Yellow Jackets have been getting it done through the air this season so far. Talk about their play-action passing attack and some of the key guys who are making the plays?
The play-action pass is very effective and quarterback Tevin Washington does a nice job with the fake. There are three main playmakers who have really shown out on the play-fakes.
Wide receiver Stephen Hill is the main target on most passing plays and he has had a great start to his season. Hill is big, fast, and very tough to defend one-on-one. A-back Orwin Smith has been the other go-to receiver for Washington and he likes to throw him the ball on seem routes right down the middle of the defense.
Whoever lines up at the other A-back position is also likely to see passes whether it is Roddy Jones, Embry Peeples or Tony Zenon. All three are game breakers with solid hands.
Who are two guys---one on offense and one on defense---who plays for Georgia Tech that most fans don't know about who could make a major impact in Saturday's ball game?
Zenon is probably the most explosive player on offense and he has the ability to stretch the field with blazing speed at the A-back position.
Defensively, Brandon Watts is a pass rush specialist at outside linebacker for the Jackets and he is used in the sub package and he has a knack for creating big plays and creating turnovers with pressure and big hits.
Both UNC and Georgia Tech have dealt with some tough issues off the field recently, with both being forced to vacate wins, and in Tech's case an ACC title. How important is this ball game for both teams not only for this season's ACC Coastal race, but also to repair some of those wounds?
Tech has been playing with a chip on their shoulder all season and while it looks like they may end up wining their appeal with the NCAA and getting back their 2009 title, those wounds haven't healed. Coach Paul Johnson has used an 'Us against the World' approach and this team has really bought into it.
Given all the craziness going on in Miami these days this game could really determine who will challenge Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division and will set the tone for the remainder of ACC divisional play in my opinion.