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Jackets riding high entering Georgia game
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Georgia Tech’s Nick Claytor (75) a Gainesville High graduate, celebrates with fans after defeating Miami 41-23 on Thursday in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets will take on Georgia at noon Saturday in Athens. - photo by John Bazemore

Georgia Tech vs. Georgia

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens


For four years, Darryl Richard has had a front-row seat to one of college football’s most intense and intriguing rivalries. For each of those years, however, he has not liked what he has seen.

"This year, we might want to try to go about doing things a little bit different — because if you keep doing the same thing, you get the same kind of results," said Richard, a fifth-year defensive tackle for Georgia Tech. "What do they say? The definition of insanity is trying to do the same thing and expecting different results? So we may try to change some things up with the way we’ll be preparing this week. It’ll still be intense with a focus on having fun."

Losers of the past seven games in the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry, Richard’s Yellow Jackets hope to see a new outcome Saturday, when they head to Athens for the first time under first-year head coach Paul Johnson and his option offense.

The offensive scheme, which some thought would lead to a rag-tag transition season for the Yellow Jackets, has proven quite successful for No. 18 Georgia Tech. Taking an 8-3 record into Saturday’s contest, the Yellow Jackets believe victory is inevitable Saturday due to the low expectations they were given this season.

"With us coming in with the expectations that everybody had told us about — predicting we’d only win three games in the year — I think we’ve proven a lot of people wrong," Georgia Tech redshirt freshman Roddy Jones said. "So this would be a really big win for us."

The desire to win this particular game appears to be stronger for the Yellow Jackets than in recent seasons. Immediately after Thursday night’s blowout victory over Miami, thoughts in Georgia Tech’s locker room quickly shifted squarely onto the Bulldogs.

"I would like to first start the segment off by saying: ‘To (heck) with Georgia,’" Richard said to reporters as he began speaking in a postgame news conference Thursday. "This is the No. 1 goal on our team. I don’t know how many of you have heard, but that’s the goal we decided to make No. 1 this year; to beat those cats in Athens."

In addition to winning the annual game against 13th-ranked Georgia — the last time Georgia Tech picked up a victory in the rivalry was in 2000, when the Yellow Jackets won on the road 27-15 — the team has been focused on winning 10 or more games this season.

"We win this game (this) week, and that’ll give us an opportunity to win 10 games on the season," senior defensive end Michael Johnson said. "(Beating Georgia) was one of our goals, as well to get double-digit wins. We felt like we had the type of team to do that. And I don’t know when the last time was that we beat them, but it will be nice to go up there and get it done."

Several of Georgia Tech’s players are optimistic about those chances after seeing how well they played last weekend against a then-No. 23 Miami team.

The Yellow Jackets completely ran over the Hurricanes, posting a season-high 472 team rushing yards. Sophomore B-back Jonathan Dwyer led the way with 128 yards on 10 carries. Jones and quarterback Josh Nesbitt were right behind him, rushing for 97 and 93 yards, respectively.

Running wasn’t the only facet of the Yellow Jackets’ offense that worked Thursday night. On its first drive, Georgia Tech unexpectedly employed its passing game, completing three straight passes. One of those receptions was a 22-yard completion thrown from receiver Demaryius Thomas to running back Lucas Cox. Thomas completed the pass after beginning the play by running a reverse formation.

Richard doesn’t think Georgia will be prepared for similar trickery; if the Yellow Jackets decide to employ such plays Saturday.

"(Georgia) had an off week to kind of sit and stew about it and think about how we’re going to attack them, but we did some different things (Thursday) to Miami, so I know they won’t be able to pick up on some of those little intricacies that coach Johnson put in," Richard said. "I hope they enjoyed (Thursday’s) game, too, and look forward to a showdown at high noon in Athens (this) week."

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