Maryland-Georgia Tech Preview
Georgia Tech's gaudy offensive numbers leave little to be desired. Coach Paul Johnson's team, however, is anything but satisfied.
The 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets look to extend their best start in more than 20 years when they host conference rival Maryland on Saturday.
Georgia Tech (5-0, 2-0 ACC) continued its offensive prowess with a 45-35 win at North Carolina State last Saturday, compiling 413 yards of total offense en route to its first 5-0 start since winning the national championship in 1990.
"It means a lot, obviously to be 5-0," running back Orwin Smith said. "We just have to keep going, because in my mind, we haven't played real competition to really test our skills. We've played great teams this year, but I'm looking forward to the tough games ... Those really are going to make a statement on what this team is about."
The Yellow Jackets' 258 points are a five-game high for the ACC since Florida's State's 279 in 1995. Georgia Tech, which ranks second in the FBS in both points per game (51.6) and total offense (587.0), continues to thrive behind the most potent rushing attack in the country.
The Yellow Jackets lead the FBS with an average of 378.2 yards on the ground and 24 rushing touchdowns. Six different players have run for at least 179 yards as part of their triple-option offense.
Some have attributed Georgia Tech's success to a weak schedule, but Johnson expects to get the best out of his players no matter the opponent.
"I talked to our team last week before the game and tried to explain the difference between a good team and a great team," he said. "Great teams don't care who you play. They go out to play against themselves. They want to get better and they want to execute at the highest level when they play, no matter who you play. Good teams are satisfied to sometimes just get by. If you do that long enough, at some point it's going to catch up with you."
Smith, averaging an FBS-best 15.1 yards per carry, and quarterback Tevin Washington should have little difficulty moving the ball against a Terrapins defense surrendering a conference-worst 412.5 yards per game.
Smith rushed for 74 yards and a career-high three touchdowns against the Wolfpack. More, however, is expected out of Washington, who completed just 4 of 12 passes for 117 yards and two TDs last Saturday.
"It wasn't one of his better games. I think he would be the first to say that, probably, he's played better than that all year," Johnson said. "It was just an enigma. He did enough to help us win the game when we had to, which is a positive, but he can play better and hopefully he will this week."
Maryland (2-2, 1-0), meanwhile, regrouped from back-to-back losses to defeat Towson 28-3 last week. Danny O'Brien, last season's ACC rookie of the year, threw for 123 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
The Terrapins, who defeated Miami 32-24 in their season opener, try to open 2-0 in conference play for the first time since winning their first five in 2001. While the Yellow Jackets rank 10th in the ACC with an average of 25.8 points allowed, O'Brien knows that he'll have his work cut out for him come kickoff.
"They try to make you make the mistake. They are a very solid defense, well coached, and we've played some very good defenses already and this is no exception," O'Brien said. "We're going to have to be really sharp in execution, so I feel like it's a really big challenge for our offense.
"I don't think we've played four full quarters of Maryland football, what we're capable of doing, and we're going to have to do it to win this game."
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 13-6 but lost the most recent meeting, 28-26 at Maryland on Oct. 6, 2007. The Terrapins have dropped five of their last six games versus ranked opponents while allowing an average of 35.8 points.