Friday, October 06, 2006

ACC play opens

Maryland faces a perhaps the toughest challenge of any team in the ACC this season to open league play. There isn't a team in the ACC that is playing as well as Georgia Tech right now. Fresh off a thumping of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg the Yellow Jackets are brimming with confidence. The soul of this team is the defense lead by Jon Tenuta, who is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. Many of his players are undersized but have great speed and agressiveness. Maryland's offensive line and running backs need to quickly improve their pass protection if Sam Hollenbach is going to leave Georgia upright. The core of Tech's defense is its feroucous linebackers KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler. They are great blitzing linebackers and are quick to fill the holes against the run. Wheller will blow up runners on delays. Both are very impressive and can dominate stretches of a game. With a 2.4 yards per carry average opponents have not been able to run on the Tech defense. The Yellow Jackets have been able to jump on opponents quickly with a 56-13 edge in the 1st quarter. This has allowed them to keep the burden of winning the game off of quarterback Reggie Ball's shoulders. Right now the formula for Georgia Tech is to have Ball manage the game and take a few shots down field with Johnson. This normally amounts to Ball throwing it up and letting Johnson go get it, which he normally does. I'm not sure there is a corner in college football who could shut down Johnson and Josh Wilson will certainly have his hands full with this assignment. The best way to keep Johnson from hurting you is to pressure Ball into mistakes. Ball has limited his mistakes so far this season but has a history of poor decisions and has never been a great passer.

If Maryland can force Ball to try to beat them with his arm then the Terps have a great shot at an upset. If Chan Gailey takes Johnson out of the game himself like he did against Notre Dame earlier in the season, all the better. Still this is a tough test for a Maryland squad that has yet to prove it can compete on the road. I think the Terps will drop to 3-2 in a low scoring, but not close game. Say 21-6 Georgia Tech.

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