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Georgia Tech Football: Keys to the Music City Bowl

We're now inside of 48 hours until kickoff of the Music City Bowl, and today we're looking at keys to the game.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech's Keys to the Game

Party In The Backfield

The biggest threat to Georgia Tech in this game will be the Ole Miss passing attack, which is the focal point of the Rebels' offense. QB "Doctor" Bo Wallace has been a middle-of-the-road QB in the SEC this season, but has had some really great moments along the way. (See the LSU win, where he went 30/39 for 346 yards.) The best way to stop him and the passing offense will come in the form of pressure, given the depleted nature of Georgia Tech's secondary. DE Jeremiah Attaochu and NT Adam Gotsis can both use a big game here, and if he has one then there's a good chance Ole Miss will struggle offensively. The odds are in Georgia Tech's favor here -- Ole Miss's O-Line is banged up, and now is without their starting LT. This will be a major battle to watch in this game.

Run the Option Effectively

KEY TO THE GAME: SCORE POINTS. Really some groundbreaking analysis over here, guys.

Jokes aside, running the ball will be the key to beating Ole Miss. The Rebels haven't seen an offense quite like ours, which will pose a very interesting challenge for them. They're talented but young and undisciplined at times, which makes it a tough outcome to predict. Vad Lee will need to have a good game of making reads, not trying to do too much but still taking what's being given to him. The Tech offensive line will likewise need to play solidly, opening up holes particularly when establishing the dive.

Don't Beat Yourself

I'm specifically referring to penalties and turnovers here. If you look back at losses, the are are key moments where one or both of these became relevant. Against Virginia Tech, an early turnover lead to a gimme Hokie touchdown and derailed the offense almost entirely. Throughout that game, there were also a ton of false start penalties that were simply self-inflicted. This offense capitalizes on not making that type of mistake, and struggles to regain ground when they get behind schedule. If Georgia Tech starts to beat itself offensively, it will have a very hard time winning.


The number of games that Georgia Tech has lost over the past three seasons where they were tied or held a lead late in the game is disgusting. This is especially true in bowl games, and historically has been for Paul Johnson. The Jackets need to keep the pedal to the metal in order to win this game. That's all there is to it.

Ole Miss's Keys to the Game

Offensive Balance

I mentioned above how Ole Miss will win this game by passing, but I'd consider rushing to be an important part of their successful passing. The more defenders Tech has to commit to stopping the run, the more their inexperienced/depleted secondary will be on its own and exposed. However, it should again be mentioned that the Ole Miss O-Line is depleted, which likely won't help them in run blocking much more than it helps them in pass blocking.

Defensive Discipline

It's no secret that Hugh Freeze has done a nice job of recruiting in his time at Ole Miss, and has acquired a lot of talent. However, as mentioned before, the defense can be undisciplined at times, a factor of their high levels of aggression. This is an offense that will take advantage of players and units that are out of position and not playing disciplined. It's not so much an issue of "mark your man" as "know your assignment" and "don't overpursue". If Ole Miss starts to cheat defensively and try to predict what Georgia Tech will do, Paul Johnson will find a way to make them pay.

Be Opportunistic

The Yellow Jackets are not perfect. Occasionally, they make an ill-advised throw or pitch, they drop the ball, they miss tackles, they blow coverages, and so on. The question becomes whether the Rebels can recognize when a mistake is made and capitalize on it, especially early in the game. If they can create a turnover or two or score an easy touchdown and take the wind out of Georgia Tech's sails, Ole Miss will have a good shot at winning the game.