It’s not an offense that can be thoroughly prepared for in a week’s worth of time.
Georgia Tech’s scheme may rely on a lot of old-school principles but it’s a system no one else on Georgia’s schedule uses. Therefore, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has had to find ways to devote extra time to having his team rep against Georgia Tech’s concepts.
"First of all, you don't put it all in one week," Smart said. "We've done a lot of offseason study, offseason planning, off-week work, spring practice work, camp work, because as much carryover as we have every week between offenses pretty similar, there's no carryover this week. That's the challenge."
Since Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson took over the Yellow Jackets before the 2008 season, his recruiting classes have averaged 51st in the nation over the past nine years. But Johnson’s teams have been competitive, for the most part, due to his offense, with Georgia Tech going 69-48 with two 11-win seasons during this span.
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More important than the scheme itself, perhaps, is how unfamiliar it is to prepare for on a given week since barely anyone else is running the same offense. .
"We'll challenge some of our players on the scout team to do some different roles this week to give us the speed of the game," Smart said. "It's so hard to simulate and they do such a good job of coming off the ball right at you that that's part of the challenge."
Smart said he wished there was a way to devote some time each week to Georgia Tech. But he noted it wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do since it would take time away from that particular week’s opponent.
Georgia did work on Georgia Tech’s offense during the bye week to get its players an early look at what to expect. One area Georgia has practiced a lot of, however, is getting off of cut blocks, a staple of Johnson’s offense.
The Bulldogs work on this during individual drills every day in practice under defensive line coach Tracy Rocker’s guidance. When Rocker got to Georgia in 2014 and had his players go through cut blocks on a regular basis, nose tackle John Atkins said he wondered why.
"We never knew what it was for until Georgia Tech week," Atkins said. "That’s what it was for the whole time."
More than anything, playing disciplined is key for an opponent like Georgia Tech. Sometimes, players have a tendency to let instincts take over in certain situations. With the amount of fakes and pitches Georgia Tech implements, relying on instincts could wind up hurting the defense.
"You have to do your assignment," cornerback Deandre Baker said. "If everyone does their assignment then we’ll be in good position to make plays. It’s very important for the secondary to stay in their gaps because without us, the ball will split the defense every time so we have to come up, be physical and stop the run."
While the flexbone triple-option is tough to prepare for during a game week, the concepts aren’t anything new to football.
Outside linebacker Davin Bellamy said he went against this style of offense in practice every day in high school when he was at Chamblee. All of Georgia’s defenders who spoke about the Georgia Tech offense said it’s more of staying sound with what they’re asked to do in order to play it properly.
"It’s not a trick offense," Atkins said. "You’re going to know exactly what’s coming to you, you just have to stay in your gap and maintain your technique. Everyone has to play as a whole. All of us have to stay up off the ground and stay out of traffic to keep our feet and play off the blocks to make tackles."