Georgia Tech vs. Florida State
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta
TV, radio: ABC (WSB-2), 1240-AM
Web site: www.ramblinwreck.com
ATLANTA — Leave it to Bobby Bowden to provide an old twist to the debate about what to call Georgia Tech’s offense.
When Paul Johnson was hired from Navy in December to take over the Georgia Tech program, there was a lot of talk about him bringing his triple option to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Then Johnson said he prefers to call his scheme a spread option.
That’s not what Bowden will call it when he stands across the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.
“The last time I can remember seeing the wishbone is when we played Auburn when Pat Dye was the head coach,” the 78-year-old Bowden said, referring to the 1980s.
“It’s different. You have to prepare differently, and you’d better prepare correctly. When you first go out there and play it, they’ll run up and down the field on you. And then you begin to get the feel of it. Whether we can ever stop it, I don’t know.”
Bowden is 12-0 against Georgia Tech as Florida State’s coach, but the teams haven’t played since 2003.
Johnson’s offense features three running backs, but his two A-backs line up wide between the offensive tackles and receivers. The wishbone packed the running backs closer to the quarterback.
Bowden said he’s worried about adjusting to Georgia Tech’s attack in one week.
“The hard thing at practice this week is trying to get the scout squad to give us a good impersonation of the wishbone offense,” Bowden said.
“It’s hard to do. They can’t duplicate the way Georgia Tech runs it.”
Georgia Tech is most effective when 228-pound B-back Jonathan Dwyer enjoys success. Dwyer has averaged 109 yards rushing in the six wins but only 49 yards in the two losses.
Georgia Tech is ninth in the nation with almost 237 yards rushing per game. Johnson had the Yellow Jackets (6-2 overall, 3-2 in the ACC) in the Top 25 for the first time this season before last week’s 24-17 loss to Virginia.
Quarterback Josh Nesbitt fumbled twice on Virginia’s side of the field and threw an interception but kept his starting job.
Florida State cornerback Tony Carter’s provided a daunting description of the Georgia Tech offense.
“You know exactly what you’re going to get, but you know you can’t stop it,” Carter said.
“They do a good job. We have to be disciplined all week with our assignments and just go out there and tackle well.”
Florida State (6-1 overall) is tied with Maryland for first in the ACC’s Atlantic Division at 3-1. The Seminoles have four straight wins, including last week’s 30-20 victory over Virginia Tech.
Florida State leads the nation by allowing opponents to convert only 17 percent of third-down conversion attempts.
“I don’t remember anybody being that good,” Johnson said.
“That stat jumps off the page at you. It says you better not be in many third and longs, I can tell you that.”
Florida State will match strength against strength with its defense, which gives up about 80 yards rushing per game to rank seventh in the nation.
“They create a lot of negative plays,” Johnson said.
“They have a huge number of tackles for losses and sacks and those kind of things. And they are going to blitz you. They play a lot of man coverage anyway, so they have no problem rushing seven or eight guys.”
The Seminoles, only 7-6 last season, would match that victory total by beating Georgia Tech.
They’ll have do it without receiver Corey Surrency, who’s suspended for one game for disciplinary reasons.
Surrency, a 24-year-old junior college transfer, had three touchdown catches in Florida State’s first two games of the season.