Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi State
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Starkville, Miss.
TV, radio: CSS, 1240-AM
Web site: www.ramblinwreck.com
ATLANTA — Jonathan Dwyer is Georgia Tech’s biggest star, but he says he’s not the only option in the Yellow Jackets’ spread option attack.
Dwyer, the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, had a season-high 158 yards rushing in Georgia Tech’s 24-7 romp over North Carolina on Saturday. He needed only 19 carries to post his 11th career 100-yard game.
Dwyer outgained North Carolina, which managed only 154 total yards.
He then issued a warning to Georgia Tech’s opponents: "You can’t key on just one person anymore."
Georgia Tech’s balanced production in coach Paul Johnson’s offense supports Dwyer’s claim.
The No. 25 Yellow Jackets, who play at Mississippi State on Saturday night, have had four players rush for touchdowns in a 3-1 start.
Against North Carolina, quarterback Josh Nesbitt had a career-high 32 carries for 97 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Anthony Allen, Roddy Jones and Dwyer’s backup, Preston Lyons, combined for 61 yards rushing.
"It helped everybody stay fresh, and it helped the offense to have the defense running around not knowing who was going to get it," Dwyer said.
It didn’t seem to matter if North Carolina knew Dwyer had the ball. He took a pitch from Nesbitt for a 35-yard run on Georgia Tech’s first possession, setting up a 13-yard touchdown run by Jones. He added a 39-yard gain on a third-quarter draw play.
"It was a new play, and it caught them off guard," Dwyer said. "It was a good play, and all coach Johnson is trying to do is get me into space to try to make a play."
The 235-pound Dwyer showed last season he is a perfect fit as the featured B-back.
He rushed for 1,395 yards with 12 touchdowns and averaged 7 yards per carry.
There were few opportunities for Dwyer in the first three games this season.
He broke free for a 74-yard touchdown run on his first carry against Jacksonville State.
He added another 5-yard scoring run, but he had only five more carries and was taken out early in the lopsided 37-17 win.
Dwyer was mostly contained in a 30-27 win over Clemson, when he had 18 carries for 66 yards, and then he was limited by a shoulder injury to five carries for seven yards in a loss at Miami.
Johnson said his only tweak to the offense against North Carolina was the new draw play.
"Well, the offense hasn’t changed," Johnson said Tuesday. "It hasn’t changed from Game 1. We just played a little better."
Georgia Tech is first in the Atlantic Coast Conference with its average of 262 yards rushing per game.
"Georgia Tech will come to town this week with a powerful running attack," said Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen. "They’re a team that’s been ranked in the Top 25 most of the season. Coach Johnson’s guys believe in their system and they run their system well. They like to control the tempo of the game."
Dwyer and Nesbitt rank second and third, respectively, among the ACC rushing leaders.
The shoulder injury was no factor for Dwyer in the rout of North Carolina. The only limitation was fatigue.
"I think we just got him involved early and he just stayed out there," Johnson said, adding Dwyer recovered after he "gassed himself a little bit early."
NOTES: Johnson said he has not decided if kicker Scott Blair will keep his job on field goals after misses from 37 and 27 yards against North Carolina. Chris Tanner, who kicked the last extra point against the Tar Heels, could have more chances at Mississippi State. "I know Scott is capable," Johnson said. "He has done it. He’s got the ability. He just has to do it on a consistent basis." Blair has three misses from less than 40 yards this season and also missed an extra point. ... Linebacker Kyle Jackson is having season-ending foot surgery on Wednesday. Defensive end Robert Hall, out with a knee injury, will miss at least four more weeks, according to Johnson.