Georgia Tech vs. Tulane
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta
On TV: Fox Sports South
ATLANTA — At Georgia Tech, the triple-option offense gets all the headlines.
That’s just fine with the guys on the other side of the line.
“Offense, offense, offense,” senior safety Jamal Golden quipped. “When this offense is scoring and running the ball like they do, it’s kind of hard not to talk about them.”
The No. 15 Yellow Jackets (1-0) host Tulane (0-1) on Saturday looking to extend their streak of 15 straight games with at least 200 yards rushing. In the season opener, Georgia Tech scored five touchdowns in the first quarter on the way to a 69-6 rout of FCS opponent Alcorn State.
High-scoring games have been the norm under coach Paul Johnson, whose unique scheme frequently puts up outrageous running totals.
But the Yellow Jackets know they won’t win a championship without solid play from the defense. Last season, they ranked 52nd nationally in points allowed yet proved to be an opportunistic group, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference with six defensive touchdowns and a plus-11 turnover margin.
“We’re trying to establish ourselves, so when people think of Georgia Tech, they think defense,” tackle Adam Gotsis said.
For now, it’s all about the offense.
“The big thing is you just want to win the football game,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “It doesn’t really matter who gets the credit or who gets shown on TV. We couldn’t care less about that. Just play well and let’s win. If Georgia Tech wins, we’re all happy.”
Tulane started the season with an ugly 37-7 home loss to Duke. The Green Wave surrendered 206 yards rushing and another 324 yards through the air, not a very encouraging sign as they prepare to face the Yellow Jackets.
“We want to play really good defense,” coach Curtis Johnson said. “Our kids aren’t as mature as they will be and I want them to be right now.”
When the teams met a year ago on a sweltering day in New Orleans, Tulane was competitive most of the way before the Yellow Jackets pulled away for a 38-21 victory in the first game at the Green Wave’s new campus stadium.
This time, they won’t have such an emotional edge. No wonder the Yellow Jackets were a whopping 281/2-point favorite.
“They are a fantastic offensive and defensive football team,” Curtis Johnson said.
Finally, someone paid attention to the Georgia Tech defense.
Here are some other things to watch for when the Yellow Jackets take on Tulane:
B-BACK TANGO: Georgia Tech got solid production out of its new B-back combination in the opening game. Patrick Skov, a transfer known mostly for his blocking when he played at Stanford, rushed for 72 yards and three touchdowns.
Freshman Marcus Marshall had a dynamic college debut, breaking off two long TD runs and finishing with 184 yards on just eight carries.
THOMAS TIME: QB Justin Thomas is the catalyst of the Georgia Tech offense, but he barely played against Alcorn State.
After throwing for one touchdown and running for another, he sat out the final three quarters. Thomas figures to get more playing time Saturday, especially since No. 2 quarterback Tim Byerly is out after injuring his knee in practice.
Redshirt freshman Matthew Jordan, who had been playing A-back, moves over to serve as Thomas’ backup.
STEPPING UP THE RUN: Tulane must do a better job rushing the ball, if for no other reason than to keep Georgia Tech’s offense off the field. The Green Wave ran for just 25 yards against Duke while converting only 2 of 14 chances on third down. They never even ran a play in the red zone, scoring their only touchdown on a 76-yard pass.
LOOKING AHEAD: Even if Georgia Tech races to another big lead, the starters are sure to get more playing time. Gotsis, for example, played only nine snaps against Alcorn State. The first-stringers need to get into a playing groove for the tougher games to come, starting with next week’s showdown at No. 9 Notre Dame.
SHUTOUT STREAK: Georgia Tech has gone 226 consecutive games without being shut out, going back to 1997 and the seventh-longest active streak in the country.