Against Hokies, third down critical for Jackets

A critical element in Saturday’s game between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will be the Yellow Jackets’ third-down efficiency on offense. Through three games, Georgia Tech is ranked No. 2 in the country in third-down conversion rate at 64 percent. The Hokies’ defense, which has played William & Mary, Ohio State and East Carolina, is tied for No. 3 at 23.3 percent.

The key will be what happens on first and second downs. In 36 third downs, the Jackets have needed three yards or less 13 times and five yards or less 21 times. They’ve converted 11 of 13 of the latter and 15 of 21 of the latter.

The Hokies, meanwhile, have put opponents in third-and-10 or longer in 21 of their 43 third-down plays. Opponents converted three of those. Virginia Tech has faced third-and-3 or less just four times, and three have been converted.

“I think they’re very aggressive and they’re blitz-oriented and stunt-oriented, so they create a lot of third-and-longs for people,” coach Paul Johnson said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “I don’t care who you are, nobody’s going to make third-and-long very consistently.”