The Georgia Tech offensive line has remained largely healthy amidst the slew of injuries that have chewed up significant portions of the depth chart.
When right tackle Errin Joe missed the Pittsburgh game with an undisclosed injury, he was the first starter on the line to miss a game. Joe returned for the Florida State game, but Will Bryan remained in the starting lineup.
The line will be without right guard Shamire Devine, who will be out with an undisclosed injury for the Virginia game. One possible move would be for Errin Joe to move inside to guard. Coach Paul Johnson said that Joe could play there. One reason it could make more sense is that Johnson also said that Trey Klock, who has been the No. 3 guard behind Devine and Trey Braun, was moving to offensive tackle, saying that it’s his more natural position.
Another reason Joe might make sense is that the No. 3 guard is now Gary Brown. If Brown plays against Virginia, it will be his first game action since the Notre Dame game.
The 3-2-5 look that Tech played on third-and-long situations may or may not be seen Saturday. It helped the Jackets hold FSU to 2-for-10 on third downs but defensive line coach Mike Pelton said Tuesday that it had not been discussed much for Virginia.
For the FSU game, “it was one of those deals that we felt like it was to our advantage,” Pelton said. “We could them in situations to put more speed on the field, but that’s a week-by-week thing and (defensive coordinator Ted Roof) determines that.”
Jabari Hunt played at least one snap at end in that look. Altogether, Pelton said, Hunt played about 20 snaps and probably had his best game of the season.
To watch: Virginia running game
Virginia did not exceed 150 rushing yards in its first five games but has been over it in the past two, 159 against Syracuse and 205 against North Carolina last Saturday, the latter of which was a loss in which the Cavaliers turned the ball over five times in their final six possessions.
Rather remarkably, Virginia has run for 200 or more yards in 13 games in coach Mike London’s tenure and is just 8-5 in those games. It would seem difficult to lose a game when the offense is that controlling. For example, this season, ACC teams have run for 200 yards 34 times (excluding Tech). Those teams are 31-3.
At any rate, a lot of responsibility will fall to ends Roderick Rook-Chungong and KeShun Freeman to set the edge and force running back Taquan Mizzell to run laterally on stretch plays. They were both effective in that role against Florida State.
“They pretty much have the same scheme as Florida State,” Rook-Chungong said. “Big up front, zone plays, zone read, stretch (plays), try to get on the edges. Me and KeShun have to do a great job of setting the edges and sending them back to our help pretty much. Playing team ball like we did Saturday.”
The honeycomb helmets
The team will wear its white helmets again after wearing them for the whiteout. There was evidently strong support among players to keep them in use a second week in a row.
Cornerback D.J. White didn’t have much of an opinion on whether or not to stay with white or return to gold.
“I just believe in preparation,” he said. “I’m not a good-luck guy. Work hard and then just play your behind off.”
A critical part of Virginia’s game plan, I imagine, will be to get Tech into third and long. The Jackets have just not been very effective there due in part to pass protection issues and a lack of productivity from receivers and A-backs.
The Jackets, as I wrote earlier this week, have failed to convert their past 12 plays of third-and-6 or longer. Overall, Tech is 33 percent on third down. A big part of it is they’re in third-and-long way more than can be sustainable. UVA is 39th in the country on third-down defense (34.1 percent).
As such, the objective for Tech isn’t so much to succeed on third down as it is to avoid third and long.