Georgia Tech-NC State Preview
Georgia Tech is off to its best start since winning a national title in 1990, and it seems unlikely its next opponent will pose a threat to one of the nation's top offenses.
The 21st-ranked Yellow Jackets will try to move to 5-0 on Saturday when they visit an N.C. State squad winless against FBS opponents this season.
Georgia Tech opened ACC play with a 35-28 win over North Carolina on Saturday, improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1990, when it won its first five games en route to a share of the national championship.
While that team was built around a tough defense, this year's Yellow Jackets lead the nation in total yards per game (630.5), points per game (53.3) and overall touchdowns (29).
Last week, Georgia Tech faced adversity for the first time this season after the Tar Heels came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. However, Tevin Washington scored on a 5-yard run with 5:20 to play, and the Yellow Jackets held on.
"We learned a lot from this game," said receiver Stephen Hill, who had six catches for 151 yards. "It shows that games are not going to be easy. After blowing out the first three teams by 40 points and over, I'm kind of glad it happened this way. It showed that we can fight. Our backs were against the wall and we came punching back. We know we can do it."
Washington, who threw for 184 yards and one touchdown, also ran for 74 yards and two scores.
The Yellow Jackets are running coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense to perfection. They are second in the nation in rushing yards with 398.8 per game and third in yards per carry with 7.2. Six players have run for more than 100 yards, and three have surpassed 200.
The offense doesn't figure to face much of a challenge from N.C. State (2-2, 0-1), which is struggling to field a healthy defense.
After winning the Champs Sports Bowl to cap a 9-4 season in 2010, the Wolfpack have regressed. Their two victories this season are against Liberty and South Alabama, and they've given up an average of 470.5 yards of offense in losses to Wake Forest and Cincinnati.
N.C. State suffered a 44-14 defeat to the Bearcats on Sept. 22. Mike Glennon threw two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions that set up Cincinnati touchdowns.
The Wolfpack got little going offensively, finishing with minus-26 yards rushing on 22 carries.
While the offense has been ineffective, the defense might be even worse, although injuries have certainly played a factor. This week, N.C. State will start its third different group of defensive linemen and is down to two healthy defensive tackles.
Tackle J.R. Sweezy broke his foot in the preseason, tackle Thomas Teal broke his foot in the opener and defensive end Jeff Rieskamp injured a shoulder before the Wake Forest game. Tackles Brian Slay (ankle) and A.J. Ferguson (knee) were hurt in the Cincinnati game.
The only constant among the starters has been tackle Markus Kuhn, and end Darryl Cato-Bishop has been moved from end to tackle to help fill out the depth chart.
"I thought we'd be a winning football program and a bowl team" fifth-year coach Tom O'Brien said. "Generally, it takes five years to install your program, to get it going up and running. The injury thing ... every time we take a step forward, we're taking two steps backwards. It's like Year 3 again."
N.C. State has won its last two road games at Georgia Tech, but has lost three straight at home between the two. This is the Yellow Jackets' first visit since a 31-23 victory in 2006.
The Wolfpack defeated Georgia Tech 45-28 last year.