Georgia Tech-NC State Football Preview

When NC State and Georgia Tech take the field on Saturday, there will be a whole slew of coaching experience and history on the sidelines for both the Pack and the Jackets. Between the two teams, there are 5 guys with a combined 54 years of Division I head coaching experience. In all of these coaches' experience, they've all only met physically or vicariously on the field of play a handful of times.

Tom O'Brien's version of BC played Coach Paul Johnson a couple times at Navy and defeated the Midshipmen both times (2002 and 2006). The 2006 game was literally three weeks after O'Brien signed up to coach NC State. Johnson's offense still managed to rack up 702 rushing yards on 124 carries (5.66 yards per carry) in both BC contests.

Jon Tenuta, former Buckeye/Tar Heel/Yellow Jacket/Fighting Irish defensive coordinator, saw Paul Johnson's offense twice during his Notre Dame stint. Jon Tenuta thought he had figured out the option in 2008 when his Golden Domers stifled the Navy rushing attack of Ken Niumatalolo for 230 yards on 51 carries. However, in 2009 when Ken and Company returned to face the Irish, Navy came full steam ahead piling up 348 yards on 57 carries. Tenuta's blitz, as Tech fans remember, can stymie the best of them but can also fail miserably.

WolfPack Offense
In 2009, the Pack averaged around 114 yards rushing per game against BCS competition. In conference play, the Pack's rushing efforts were good enough for 4th worst yards per game and 4th worst in yards per carry. This abysmal effort was accomplished with Toney Baker, a fairly decent running back. The biggest change in philosophy, which is visible in the stats, is that the Pack has shifted to running the football more. In 2009, they ran ~50% of the time but in 2010 they have run ~68% of the time against their serious competition.

The bulk of the rushing attempts are being distributed amongst two freshmen running backs: Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes. Remember these two guys are true freshman and have already fumbled three times this season on 68 attempts (1 lost).

The most important cog and face of the NC State Wolfpack since 2008 is Russell Wilson. The first thing and only thing you need to know about Russell Wilson is that he protects the football. When Christian Ponder's foolish Heisman campaign came out, I started comparing QB's like a mad man in an attempt to justify Nesbitt's outside Heisman shot. Little did I realize Russell Wilson outperforms every ACC quarterback with regards to offensive plays per turnover. The current season is young but he's already run 127 plays without a fumble or interception and accounted for 812 yards and 8 touchdowns. Here's a look at the ACC's star returning QBs' total ACC plays (rush+pass), turnovers, plays per turnover, touchdowns, and plays per touchdown (2009 stats):
Turns_medium


In 2009, it only took Russell Wilson 15 snaps in ACC play to score a touchdown and of all the ACC's "superstar" passing QB's he had the best efficiency in turnovers per play.

WolfPack Defense
The core of the Pack defense is in the defensive backfield and linebacking corps. They've got three guys with legitimate experience in the secondary and an All-ACC candidate in ridiculous car crash survivor Nate Irving at linebacker.

I'm not really interested in giving a bunch of praise to the secondary, however. I wanna focus on the four new guys up front. Jeff Rieskamp, Natanu Mageo, Brian Slay, and David Akinniyi are all brand spankin' new starters on the Pack DL. They all have very limited experience and the depth behind them is relatively thin outside of Michael Lemon. Markus Kuhn, State's monster reserve DT, is out for the game Saturday. The two starting ends on the Pack DL average 253 pounds while the DT's average 290 so this isn't the biggest line we've faced as an offensive unit.

Look for big gains up the gut from Anthony Allen all game long. Tech fans are gonna want to see Nate Irving and the safeties with 10 tackles per player by the end of the game. Runs to the edge may be tough against the Pack's deep and experienced linebackers and DB's but the middle should be as clear as the interstate in South Carolina on Sunday.

Prediction
Bird: Tech wins another close one against a team from Tobacco Road - Tech 35, State 28.
Winfield: Same with Bird. Back and forth. Decided in the 4th quarter. Get used to this type of game. GT 38 NCSU31

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