Challenged by their coach to play more aggressively, Georgia Tech’s secondary responded in a 35-10 victory against Virginia on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets intercepted Virginia’s Greyson Lambert two times, including once in the end zone by Jamal Golden, and batted down five passes to take some heat off defensive coordinator Ted Roof and keep alive the team’s chances of winning the ACC’s Coastal Division.
“Certainly, we played better defensively than we have the past couple of weeks,” coach Paul Johnson said. “Other than their scoring drive, we did a pretty good all day challenging their receivers. They got behind us some but they didn’t complete them.”
The defense, which had allowed more than 320 yards passing in each of the past two weeks, gave up 262 to the Cavaliers. Hence, Johnson’s desire for the defensive backs to not back off in coverage.
“I was proud of the way they bounced back,” Johnson said. “I know they weren’t happy about the last two performances themselves. We turned guys loose a couple times. There are a lot of things we can fix. But we played hard and, like I told the guys after the game, we made enough plays.”
The Cavaliers were averaging 241.6 passing yards per game, fifth-best in the ACC, but on a cold and windy day, their receivers dropped numerous passes, including one in the end zone in the first half. Lambert completed 19 of 32 passes.
Defensive lineman Adam Gotsis had the first interception off a tipped pass in the third quarter. He said he fought off a cut block, heard the ball get tipped and got up in time to make his second career interception.
The second came on Virginia’s next possession when Jamal Golden wrestled away the ball from a Cavs receiver in the end zone.
“Our thing this week was challenging receivers,” Golden said. “Coach put an emphasis on that in practice. Right there on the goal line, I was trying to make a play.”