Yellow Jackets: sting or miss

If you thought Utah was a sporadic, unpredictable team, you need to be introduced to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

They are able to boast victories over Bowl Championship Series No. 8 Miami and No. 9 Auburn, but they’ve also lost to N.C. State and Virginia.

The inconsistency can usually be traced to their junior quarterback, Reggie Ball. In the Yellow Jackets’ four losses this season, Ball has thrown seven interceptions to just four touchdowns.

Although Ball isn’t particularly accurate, with a 48 percent completion rate, and doesn’t throw for many yards each game (173 yards passing per game), he is able to run the ball well and help the offense to score enough to win games.

Not that Ball doesn’t have someone to throw to. Leading the offensive threats for the Yellow Jackets is the 2004 ACC Rookie of the Year, Calvin Johnson. On the year, he has caught 52 passes for 869 yards and six touchdowns.

Right behind Johnson in offensive power is senior running back P.J. Daniels. He is second in the ACC with 82.1 yards rushing per game and holds the NCAA record for rushing yards in a bowl game with 307 yards, which he accumulated against Tulsa in the Humanitarian Bowl two years ago.

Although they do have weapons on offense, they’ve averaged just 19 points per game, so the Yellow Jackets have had to rely on their defense to keep them in games.

In their 14-10 surprise upset of the Hurricanes, the defense stole the show.

Led by Philip Wheeler, KaMichael Hall and Eric Henderson, the Yellow Jackets’ defense sacked Kyle Wright seven times, held the Hurricanes to 30 yards rushing on 30 attempts and held Miami to one conversion on third down in 14 attempts.

Wheeler and Hall each had two sacks and combined for seven tackles for loss. Henderson added a sack of his own and became the Yellow Jackets all-time leader in tackles for a loss with 59.

In Georgia Tech’s 11 games this season, the defense has held six teams to less than 300 total yards (Utah has not been held below 300 total yards this season), and it’s intercepted 19 passes.

It has allowed 198.4 yards passing per game-which ranks No. 35 in the NCAA-yet the passing defense has been the difference in some of their losses. Although it held N.C. State to just 56 yards rushing, the 230 yards passing by Jay Davis was enough to help the Wolfpack edge the Yellow Jackets, 17-14.

Similarly against Georgia, the rush defense held the Bulldogs to a season-low 68 yards rushing, but 198 D.J. Shockley passing yards helped the Bulldogs to win, 14-7.

But sometimes the defense can only do so much and needs a little more help from the offense.

In the Yellow Jackets 51-7 loss to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech held the Hokies to less than 100 yards rushing and 223 yards passing.

However, the offense put the team into several difficult situations and gave up three non-offensive touchdowns, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the third quarter.

Although Georgia Tech has shown it can keep teams from scoring, it will need to score enough points of its own if it expects to come away with a victory over the Utes on Dec. 29.

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