Yellow Jackets good in the red zone

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerNovember 28, 2013 

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Tech offense has had its occasional hiccups this year. There have been drive-stopping turnovers and momentum-shifting penalties at key moments.

But one area in which Tech has not struggled is in the red zone. Once the Yellow Jackets get in scoring position, they're usually capable of finishing the deal.

Georgia Tech has been inside the red zone on 42 occasions and come away with 36 touchdowns. That's an 85.7 percent rate of success, which ranks the Yellow Jackets first in the nation. Tech has also kicked two field goals in the red zone, meaning they score 90.5 percent of the time; that's 13th in the nation.

Tech's failures have come in wins against Duke (twice) and North Carolina and the loss to BYU. Tech even scored on all four red zone opportunities against Clemson. Tech went 10-for-10 with red-zone touchdowns against the two FCS opponents.

Tech is even more effective on goal-to-go situations. The Yellow Jackets are 28-for-28 when it comes to converting goal-to-go situations into touchdowns.

All that will be challenged this week by a Georgia defense that has been inconsistent for much of the year, but has the propensity to come up big at key moments.

"Against Auburn they gave up some yards, but forced them to kick field goals in the red zone," Johnson said. "Maybe it's the competition, but I think they're just growing up."

The majority of Tech's red-zone touchdowns have come on the ground (32). Quarterback Vad Lee threw three touchdown passes against Duke and one against BYU, but Tech's reputation has been built on the ground.

Godhigh makes the big plays

Robert Godhigh is often the smallest guy on the field. But the 5-foot-7 senior has been a big-play guy for the Yellow Jackets. The former walkon will start his 25th consecutive game on Saturday and has become the team's most consistent playmaker.

Godhigh has rushed for 623 yards this season, an average of 10.9 yards per carry. And when he touches the ball, the chains normally move. This year 55 percent of his offensive touches have resulted in a first down or a touchdown. That's been true on 29 of 57 rushes and 12 of 17 receptions.

Called "The Beast" by his teammates for his hard work in the weight room, Godhigh's strength is apparent after initial contact is made. Of his 961 yards this season, 389 yards have come after contact, an amazing 40.5 percent.

"Sometimes his size fools people in that he's pretty explosive and a hard guy to get down," Johnson said. "There's no doubt that the way he plays is infectious to everybody else and he's been a tremendous player for us."

In ACC history among 1,000-yard career rushers, Godhigh's 9.47-yard average ranks as No. 1.

A year ago Godhigh carried six times against Georgia for 44 yards, including a 19-yarder. He caught five passes for 66 yards, including one for 43 yards. But his fumble on the goal line was partially responsible for changing the momentum of the game in Georgia's favor.

Quick hits

The outcome of Saturday's game will have an impact on Tech's bowl stock. A win would likely move the Yellow Jackets up the pecking order, while a loss will keep them among the lower-rung bowls. Tech is bowl eligible for the 17th straight season. Since Florida will see its consecutive bowl appearance end this year at 22, the Yellow Jackets will be tied with Georgia for the third-longest streak. Florida State will make its 33rd and Virginia Tech its 22nd this year. …

Tech is hosting the 13th annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy. … Former wide receiver Jimmy Robinson will be the honorary captain on Saturday. Robinson played at Tech from 1972-74 and spent six years in the NFL.

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