Keys to the Game: Georgia Tech vs Duke

Scott Cunningham

With a win this weekend, Georgia Tech will become bowl eligible and force at least a tie in the Coastal Division. With a loss, they'll travel to Athens next week needing a win to become bowl eligible. Here are the keys to this weekend's game.

Georgia Tech's Focus

It's Duke. You're nearly a 2 touchdown favorite. The stadium's going to be half-empty. You just ROLLED North Carolina. Your QB is a rising star. Finals are soon. You're going home for Thanksgiving next week. You have a game against your hated in-state rival after that.

I can give you a thousand reasons that Tech players have to come into this game completely taking it for granted. The bad news is that if that happens, Duke, while not being a household name in college football (for positive reasons, anyways), is more than capable of sneaking up on us and winning. Focus. We're going to need it this weekend to be sure that we take care of business. Miss assignments, miss blocks, miss tackles, turn the ball over, make special teams mistakes, etc, and we're not good enough to recover against a team like Duke.

(As an aside, if you had told me as a freshman that 3 years later I'd be writing that paragraph, I would have asked for some of what you were drinking.)

Sean Renfree and Duke's O-Line

It's no secret that Duke's offense revolves entirely around their passing game. Now, I've come to the realization that, more often than not, we're not worth a whole lot when it comes to rushing the passer. That said, we have a very athletic front that can make Renfree's life miserable if given the opportunity. At the same time, our passing defense isn't great, especially considering we expected the secondary to be one of this team's strengths. A lot of how this game turns out will revolve around whether Renfree has time and can make good throws. Pressure him consistently, and the throws will become errant. If he starts making bad throws and has a few interceptions, they'll be creating a hole that will be tough to dig themselves out of.

Georgia Tech's Special Teams

They don't have to be perfect. They don't need any of Jamal Golden's heroics. They simply can't make any major mistakes. No muffed punts leading to turnovers, no returns for touchdowns allowed, no blocked kicks, etc. Again, they don't need to be perfect -- but special teams mistakes, as usual, are a really good way to give the other team momentum and keep them in the game while at the same time getting into your own head. Make more than one major mistake and, honestly, I really don't know if we'll be able to recover.

Continue the Block Party

Lead by the Goon Squad, the last two weeks have featured our offense putting on an absolute clinic in blocking. On a completely unrelated (or so) note, we've seen an abundance of lengthier runs in those games. That blocking means that 3 yard gains turn into 10 and 12 yard carries. A 2 or 3 yard loss, combined with a broken tackle, turns into a 25 yard gain. The Rocket Toss works like a charm. This impressive blocking display needs to be continued, and if it is, Tech's offense may well pick up right where it left off last week.

Tackling

Whichever team does it better will have a leg up in this game. It's been our Achilles' heel on defense at times this season, and it's another good way to keep a team like Duke, who loves to gain yards in chunks, in the game. At the same time, if Duke can't wrap up our ballcarriers, we've seen what they can know, and know that it'll be just another one of many miserable, long afternoons on the Flats for them.

That's my take on things, readers. What say you? How will this game be won by either side?

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