Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics
If Georgia Tech is to win against USC in the Sun Bowl, here's how it will happen.
1. Georgia Tech MUST take care of the football early and often. I'll allow for one turnover of any sort for the Jackets, after which they'll have an incredibly difficult time recovering. We saw in the uga game how a fumble on Tech's first drive completely derailed the train, and they were unable to recover for the rest of the game. Wasting opportunities to score and giving up field position will be a major blow to Tech's chances to win the game. At the same time, it's extremely lucky for Georgia Tech's defense that they will not be subjected to QB Matt Barkley -- they would benefit greatly from forcing USC's Freshman QB Max Wittek to throw a couple of interceptions.
2. Georgia Tech MUST make USC's offense one-dimensional. In their victories, USC has rushed for 187.3 yards per game. In their losses, only once have they eclipsed the 131 rushing yards they managed while losing to Oregon (twice they failed to reach 100 yards). By bottling up Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, they will be forcing a freshman QB to beat them, which will be a lot of pressure for a kid making his second college start. I'm willing to bet that, although Wittek has a good arm and was a highly-touted recruit, the USC coaching staff would rather not have to lean on him in trying to win this game. If Tech cannot stop the run, Wittek will have an easy, stress-free task ahead of him. If they can, he'll need to have a big game if USC is to go home with a victory.
3. Georgia Tech MUST take advantage of the situation if USC comes out unfocused and flat. We've talked about this quite a bit the past few days, that USC's players are clearly not thrilled to be where they are when compared to where they had expected to be this season. Long story short, it won't surprise anyone to see them come out and take a victory for granted, playing a sloppy game filled with undisciplined defense and miscommunication on offense. In the case that this happens, Georgia Tech MUST be hungry, energized, and focused enough to make the most of their opportunities and make the Trojans regret their lack of preparation.
4. Georgia Tech MUST block and pass effectively. We saw a pattern this season, that when Tech's offense blocks effectively, they're really tough to stop. By establishing the B-Back dive on the triple option and knocking down defenders on the perimeter, the Yellow Jackets will be tough to stop for any defense. It is yet to be seen whether USC's defense will be able to scheme effectively against the spread option offense (assignment football, I know...but crazier things have happened). If they can't, our job will be that much easier on offense. Blocking effectively means running effectively, and running effectively means USC will need to make adjustments to counteract that effectiveness -- and that's where Tech must pass effectively. Note that I didn't say they must pass excessively or any other 'amount' -- it's simply that when they DO pass, it must be effective. If Vad Lee somehow goes 35-45 passing for 450 yards and 5 TD's with no picks, well, that would be odd, but also very effective passing. If we don't throw 10 passes but are effective on the passes we do throw, I'll be just as happy. The number of passes we throw is directly related to the amount of success our rushing attack is having and what the game situation is -- the effectiveness of our passing attack is directly related to the sustainability of our rushing success.
The toughest time Tech will have with the above four items is in bottling up USC's rushing attack. We've been very inconsistent in run defense this year, occasionally stuffing teams (like Florida State in the second half), and occasionally looking like we were trying to play basketball or something (like Middle Tennessee State...I still cringe every time I think about that game). Other than that, as usual, Tech is more than capable of making these things happen -- it'll just be a matter of execution.
That's just my opinion though. What's yours? Are we capable of pulling this one off? Are we going to need a miracle?