Florida State is coming off a loss to Florida in which the Seminoles allowed 244 rushing yards – more than three times what they allow on average per game in 2012.
And now Florida State (10-2) faces Georgia Tech, which has the third-best rushing offense in the nation, in Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game at Charlotte, N.C.
The Yellow Jackets (6-6) average 323 rushing yards per game, behind only Army and Air Force in the Football Bowl Subdivision. And Georgia Tech runs the triple-option offense, which gives quarterback Tevin Washington the opportunity to read the defense and then decide to keep the ball, hand off on a fullback dive up the middle or pitch to a tailback.
It’s been very effective this season – Washington has 18 rushing touchdowns, Orwin Smith has 673 rushing yards and averages 9 yards per carry, and Zach Laskey has 623 rushing yards. The Yellow Jackets average 5.6 yards per carry and have 46 rushing touchdowns (second in the FBS to Oregon and Louisiana Tech, which both have 47).
“It’s such an unorthodox thing,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “. … It’ll be a huge challenge for all those guys that are involved.”
Teams that face Georgia Tech know what’s coming – about 55-60 times each game, the Yellow Jackets will run. Then the questions begin: Who will run? Where will he run? And how can defenses try to stop it, all while being cut block – a hit by offensive linemen below the knees that is a key component of the triple option.
“Everybody in the box has to play their assignment,” FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner said. “They can’t get greedy and try to make a play. Everybody has to play the assignment, do what they’re coached to do and you’ll be successful.”
STARTER AT DEFENSIVE END: Fisher said that true freshman Mario Edwards Jr. will start at defensive end and that Giorgio Newberry will also see playing time against Georgia Tech. Edwards has lost about 15 pounds and made progress this season.
PICCOLO AWARD: FSU senior running back Chris Thompson and Miami defensive end Shayon Green shared the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to the most courageous football player in the conference. Thompson broke two vertebrae in his back in 2011, but returned to run for 687 yards before injuring his knee. Green had four major injuries, including three to his right knee, and has 67 tackles this season.