Some people are picking against Tech due to history. A sad history. The history isn't a reflection of program stature. It's a reflection of match ups, coaching preparation, and in-game decision making.
UVA played Georgia Tech teams that were either mismatched or poorly coached. From this perspective, I want to look at our apparent weaknesses and compare them to UVA's ability to exploit them.
Kickoff Coverage Woes
In all of our games, GT is giving up 25.3 yards per return. We're terrible at covering kickoffs. Why? We've allowed 38 returns on 43 kickoffs because we can't kick very far. We've only had one touchback all season and an ACC-leading three kickoffs out of bounds. Our kickoffs are the 6th longest in the ACC, which is good but the problem is that we also allow the opponent to return 95% of those kicks.
So, here's our current situation. We score a lot in the game. We on average give up a lot of big plays in the kicking game. The opponent has less grass to cover. Our defense looks bad when they give up "easy" TD's.
The kickoff team has to get better. Play calling is typically predicated on where your offense is on the field. If the offense starts on their own 40 or the 50 every drive, then they can call whatever they want. If the offense starts on their 20 or 30, then the defensive coordinator can dial up whatever defense he wants and the offense has to play more conservatively.
Luckily, this category is a wash GT fans. UVA has a pretty terrible return unit that only averages around 17 yards per return (last place in the ACC). I just kinda wanted to rant on our terrible kickoff coverage.
Our Run Defense Against the Cavs
2007 - Cedric Peerman, 28 carries for 144 yards
2005 - Wali Lundy/Jason Snelling, 32 carries for 131 yards
2003 - Wali Lundy, 27 carries for 96 yards
2001 - Bryson Spinner/Antoine Womack, 23 carries for 128 yards
All years of UVA wins in which their primary runners tore us up for big yards/carry. When we shut down the UVA running attack ala 2002 and 2006, we won. They only ran for 104 yards total in those two losses.
Under Al Groh, UVA averages a 48.4% 3rd down conversion rate against GT in Charlottesville. Those odd year Al Groh teams only averaged a 40.0% 3rd conversion rate. We never get the AL GROH offense off the field when it matters. Groh uses his big offensive line to push us around. He runs up the gut, to the edge, and all the way to Grandma's house. He's never really had a game breaking running back but he always has HUGE offensive linemen.
This brings us to this year's game. Groh brings in an offensive line that averages 6'6" and 300 pounds on the dot. Match that up with our relatively small defensive tackles and we might have a long day on our hand. Thankfully, the Cavs have a pretty poor running game this season. Even against a terrible Maryland team, the Cavs only managed around 60 yards on the ground.
Secondary is Second Rate
There is nothing more indicative of our road-home, Jekyll-Hyde syndrome than our secondary. Look at these numbers:
But hold on. We shouldn't be talking about this home-away nonsense. If we drafted the the I-A QB's we've faced in a fantasy draft, who would we take first? Let's line 'em up in order of QB efficiency: Tyrod Taylor, Jacory Harris, Christian Ponder, T.J. Yates, Tyson Lee, & Kyle Parker. Are we playing better defense at home or are we just facing better passers/offenses on the road? Probably a mixture of both.
Jameel Sewell would sit right above T.J. Yates in that list so he'd be the "fourth best" passer we've faced thus far. Being the "fourth best" passer we've faced doesn't mean much as Sewell has only thrown 1 TD in the last three games. He's not being asked to make big plays. We gotta force the issue with him. Force him into mistakes. He's a senior quarterback but he's not a good senior quarterback - a Sean Glennon or Chris Turner talent level that will buckle under pressure.
How Does GT Win?
I don't know how we win. I'm worried about how we're going to lose. UVA is inferior to us in every facet of the game. Our weaknesses are glaring but theirs are debilitating. They beat a terrible Indiana team, a terrible Maryland team, and an offensively inept UNC team. They should not be on the same field as us but somehow we'll fumble 8 times. I am not looking forward to UVA.
I feel like the Philadelphia Eagles making the trip to Oakland. There is no good game film on UVA because they've scratched their offense. We've both played UNC but UNC's offense is so bad there was no game. Literally, no game film. Stats don't mean anything. We are playing a UVA team that will be playing backyard football and is currently reinventing their offensive identity. They still have a defense and Charlottesville brings with it a heavy, heavy sports curse.
I am worried.
Bird: We tie the Cavaliers 20-20. I don't think we'll win but I don't think the Cavaliers can beat us.
Dane: God, please don't make me do this. This past week was so much fun. You know what? We should lose this game. It's just what is supposed to happen. If Paul Johnson and his shamanistic voodoo football majick cannot lift this one, then we might as well forfeit all future games played in Charlottesville.
What? What are you looking at? I'm not predicting anything. There is enough bad mojo on this game without me opening my filthy sewer and ruining it for everyone. Take it away, Winfield.
Winfield: All year I have been optimistic about this game and now that it is upon us, I don't know what to think. How can you pick the Jackets when they continue to break your heart in Charlottesville? Ehh screw it. We break the curse! (barely) Georgia Tech 21 Cavs 20