In the breakdown of Georgia Tech’s offensive line for this year’s Music City Bowl, mention was made of how important line play was in any level of football. As important as the offensive line is to the option scheme, the defensive line plays almost as big a part.
One of the keys to a successful option offense is to control the ball and the clock, and if your defense doesn’t get the other team off the field in a hurry, that’s awfully hard to do.
The Yellow Jackets defensive line has had some ups and downs this season, which is to say that they’ve been absolutely stellar when good, but have let a few quality offenses get the best of them when they aren’t playing at the level they should.
Facing Ole Miss is going to be like facing a Clemson or Miami, in that the Rebels love to throw the ball, and can do it well. But they also have quality running backs, and don’t purely exist as a one-dimensional team. The Jackets have suffered on pass defense this season (finishing 86th in the nation), and will have to find a way to keep Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace from picking them apart like the Christmas turkey.
The first key is going to have to be a combination of pressure and containment on Wallace. If you simply come at him from one side on a corner or safety blitz, or from an and, he’ll scramble his way out of trouble and beat you with his legs. Wallace rushed for 268 yards on 118 carries (and four TDs) this season, and I’d be willing to bet that a very small percentage of those were designed quarterback runs.
Tech’s base 4-3 defense should be an ideal match for what the Rebels want to run. Jeremiah Attaochu can be extremely disruptive on the pass rush, but if things flow they way they have in past games, the Rebels will chip and double on Attaochu and try to neutralize him. To prevent that, nose tackle Adam Gotsis is going to have to really create some push up the middle to keep the Rebels with two men on him.
Wallace is an improviser, so simply getting him flushed out of the pocket may not be good enough. The defensive line will need to get him either on the ground, or into a position where he’s forced to throw the ball away. If given time, Wallace will force Tech into dropping the linebackers into coverage more, making run defense that much harder on the D-line.
Tech’s defensive line is good, and they’ll all need to play up to their potential against a quality offense.
Jeremiah Attaochu (SR) – DE: In his first year moving from OLB to DE, Attaochu flourished. He has become the focal point for every offense and can take over a game if not held in check.
Euclid Cummings (RS SR) – DT: Cummings is one of the team leaders both in the locker room and on the field. He led the defensive line in tackles, and has great instincts on run defense.
Adam Gotsis (SO) – NT: A true sophomore, Gotsis has been an impact player since stepping on the field last season. He was second only to Attaochu in TFLs, and can get tremendous push a the point of attack.
Emmanuel Dieke (RS SR) – DE: Dieke started every game at end this season, and although not quite the pass rush threat of Attaochu, he can still protect the edge as well as any end in the conference.
Tyler Stargel (RS FR), Anthony Williams (RS JR) – DE, Francis Kallon (RS FR) – DT, Jimmie Kitchen (RS SO) – NT, Patrick Gamble (RS FR), Chris Crenshaw (RS SR) – DE