6 things to know before Georgia Tech-North Carolina (and more)

1. Backup defensive end Anree Saint-Amour may see more playing time against North Carolina than he has thus far. Saint-Amour picked up his second sack of the season against Duke and has been coming on as a pass rusher. He might be the team’s best pass-rush threat after Antonio Simmons, which almost necessitates him being on the field given how much trouble the Jackets have had in that department.

“He’s getting more comfortable,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “He’s still a sophomore and is getting more comfortable and progressing and improving and Coach (Mike) Pelton’s done a great job with him. Just got to keep working.”

2. Wide receiver Brad Stewart was named a first-team academic All-District honoree this week by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Stewart, a sophomore, holds a 3.58 GPA in mechanical engineering. He’s the first Tech player to be named to the academic all-district team since defensive tackle Darryl Richard in 2007 and just the seventh in team history. He will be on the ballot for the CoSIDA academic All-America team, which will be announced Dec. 1.

Stewart has 13 catches for 234 yards this season.

 3. Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook gave quarterback Justin Thomas an interesting bit of praise earlier this week. He said he has been trying to get his younger quarterbacks to notice how Thomas throws balls that aren't merely accurate, but catchable. That is to say, he said, passes “that give (receivers) a chance to adjust to and make a play on. And so it’s the touch with which he throws, the timing with which he throws it.”

4. The following was something of an upset. It seems like coach Paul Johnson has brought up the idea that statistics such as total offense or defense or scoring offense or defense don’t carry as much meaning as they once did because teams operate at such different tempos on probably a weekly basis. His (repeated) point has been that, for instance, comparing Tech’s total offense against, for example, Texas Tech’s is not very valid because the Red Raiders run 87.3 plays per game while the Jackets average 60.

The two teams are separated by 12 spots in yards per play (6.92 for Texas Tech to 6.44 for Georgia Tech) but 81 spots in total offense (1st and 82nd).

But this week, against the team whose offense is often held up as a paragon of fast-tempo offense, I’m not sure he brought it up once.

But he did answer a related question (from me) about an admittedly odd notion. In a game where it’s to Tech’s advantage to play a low-possession game, to force North Carolina into a game where it’s not as uncomfortable, is there such a thing as scoring quickly? As the Tech offense has become more explosive, particularly against Duke, when it racked 11 plays of 20 yards or more and seven of 40 yards or more, it increases the number of possessions because it’s taking less time to score.

Tech played 13 possessions against Duke, which tied for the season high. The other 13-possession game was Clemson, when the Jackets had four three-and-outs.

You may remember the end of the 2014 game against North Carolina, when wide receiver DeAndre Smelter scored on a 75-yard end-around that gave the Jackets the lead at 43-42 but also left the Tar Heels 3:07, enough time for them to drive for the game-winning touchdown with seconds remaining.

“You’ve got to score when you can score,” he said. “If we get to the point where we have to try to wait to run clock before we score, then we’re in real trouble. We’re not that efficient. We need to score when we can score and then stop them when they get the ball.”

5. B-back Marcus Marshall being ruled out for the game with an upper-body injury was probably more disappointing than usual, I imagine. Marshall is from nearby Raleigh, N.C., and I’m going to guess was going to have a lot of friends/family in attendance to watch him play. A bummer for him.

6. You’ll be glad to know, I’d think, that former Tech captain and Bulldog vanquisher Roddy Jones will be working the sidelines at Kenan Stadium for the ACC Network broadcast. Joining him are Tom Werner (play-by-play) and Dave Archer (analyst), who is also part of the first-rate Falcons broadcast team with Wes Durham. Archer does an excellent job.

An optimal choice, as usual, is the Tech radio broadcast team of Andy Demetra, Sean Bedford and Randy Waters. I listen when I can; it’s invariably informative.

Speaking of which, I saw Brandon Gaudin at Hartsfield-Jackson Friday night. As things would have it, his flight flew out just before mine from the same gate. He was going to call the Maryland-Michigan game for Westwood One.

[cmg_cinesport url="http://cinesport.ajc.com/embed/ajc-atlanta-sports/sugiura-answers-needed-gt-vs-unc/"]

Recommended reading from the week

Inside North Carolina's odd rest advantage pattern against Tech (myajc)

Why winning loose balls is 'everything' to Josh Pastner (myajc)

Conflicting versions about Jalen Johnson's role in altercation (myajc)

Georgia Tech defense working on keeping things simple (myajc)

Tech basketball staffer and former Jacket Mario West talks about his new book

Game day preview: Georgia Tech at North Carolina

Mills, Davis cleared, but two others ruled out for North Carolina

Yellow Jackets confident facing Tar Heels' Mitch Trubisky

Q&A with North Carolina beat writer Andrew Carter

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Ken Sugiura
Ken Sugiura
Ken Sugiura covers Georgia Tech sports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.