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Tech defense thrives on simplicity
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ATLANTA — Simple is good for the Georgia Tech defense.

The Yellow Jackets’ defense returned to a 4-3 scheme, keeping assignments as simple as possible and holding North Carolina to 154 total yards, including 17 yards rushing in the Yellow Jackets’ 24-7 win on Saturday.

The win pushed Georgia Tech (3-1 overall, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) back into the Top 25 at No. 25 on Sunday. North Carolina (3-1, 0-1) fell from No. 22 out of the poll.

Coach Paul Johnson ordered the defensive changes from a 4-2-5 scheme after a 33-17 loss at Miami. Johnson didn’t blame the loss on the scheme, but he said his defensive players were given too much to think about by the coaching staff.

"I thought we played very well on defense," Johnson said Sunday. "We’ve still got some areas we can improve.

"We really narrowed the plan down some. I think that helped some with missed assignments."

The Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels to eight first downs, 154 total yards and 17 yards rushing on 18 carries.

"They shut us down in every aspect of our offense," said North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates, who completed only 11 of 26 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Georgia Tech had 317 yards rushing, held the ball 42 minutes and ran 80 plays to North Carolina’s 44. The time of possession was Georgia Tech’s best since a 1996 game against Wake Forest.

Johnson changed more than the number of linebackers on the field. He also tweaked his starting lineup.

Freshman linebacker Julian Burnett made his first start. Defensive end Anthony Egbuniwe replaced Robert Hall, who was out with a knee injury. Defensive tackle Logan Walls also moved into the lineup.

The Yellow Jackets were without safety Cooper Taylor, who has an undisclosed injury. Johnson said Taylor and Hall will miss this week’s game at Mississippi State.

Johnson was happy with his defense’s improvement but said there may be a change this week on special teams.

Scott Blair, who missed field goal attempts of 37 and 27 yards and had two kickoffs go out of bounds, may have difficulty holding his job this week.

"Scott has been hot and cold," Johnson said. "I think Scott has a lot of ability but he has been inconsistent. ... We can’t be missing those. They’ll come back to bite you. It’s not like we’re missing from 49 or 50."

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