Georgia Tech aims to lead again in rushing, third-down rate

Two goals that the Georgia Tech offensive line has set are lofty, even if the Yellow Jackets offense achieved both last year.

At the team’s media day Saturday, guard Trey Braun and tackle Errin Joe shared the line’s objectives to help the Jackets lead the country in rushing yards and third-down conversion rate. Tech finished last season No. 1 in both categories, at 342.1 rushing yards per game and 57.9 percent on third downs. The latter tied for the highest rate on record (Hawaii, 2006), although the NCAA has only tracked that statistic since 2005.

“The goals of the offensive line are just to be better than we ever have been and to keep going up,” Braun said.

Joe said the rushing title goal was spurred by assistant offensive line coach Ray Rychleski, who found a plaque in his office commemorating the team’s No. 1 finish in rushing yards from 2010.

“He was like, Why is this in a closet?” Joe said.

The plaque now hangs above the door of the offensive line’s meeting room.

“We’ve got that kind of attitude as an o-line that you’re not going to beat us physically,” Joe said. “We’re going to be the most physical (line) in the game, and we’re just going to pound it, and we’re going to have fun doing it.”

No team has finished No. 1 in third-down conversions in consecutive years. The last team to win the rushing title back-to-back was Army in 2011 and 2012. Tech finished first in rushing in 2010 and was first in third-down rate in 2009.

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