Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest preview

Make an early stop. Georgia Tech's defense needs a boost of confidence, and the best way to do that is to stop the other team on a drive or two early. In each of the past three games against FBS (formerly Division I-A) teams, it's steadily giving up more yards passing and rushing. To do so against Wake Forest, which has struggled to move the ball in its past two games, both on the road, won't be a good sign.

Get ahead quickly. While that may seem like an issue with the defense's issues, Tech's offense isn't as methodical as it was last season. It keeps the ball 2 minutes, 49 seconds less per game while punting the same number of times. Tech has yet to create a two-score margin at halftime against any of the FBS teams it has played this season. Getting ahead by 10 points early can change the other team's game plan.

Don't give up special-teams points. Special teams has been another issue for Tech this season. A three-part breakdown -- bad snap, bad blocking, slow kicker -- last week resulted in N.C. State blocking a punt and picking up the loose ball for a touchdown. Against Kansas, a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave the Jayhawks a first down. Tech isn't playing well enough right now to give teams more chances than necessary.

A Tech win would ...

  • Ensure that the Yellow Jackets don't lose consecutive games for the first time under coach Paul Johnson.
  • Be its fifth consecutive road win in the conference dating to last season's loss at Miami in the third week.

A Wake Forest win would ...

  • Be its third this season at home. It has outscored opponents Duke and Presbyterian 107-61 at BB&T Field.
  • Improve Jim Grobe to 3-1 in his meetings against Johnson. He twice defeated Johnson's Navy teams.

Keep an eye on ...

For Tech: Brad Jefferson and Brandon Watts/Julian Burnett. Teams have had success using zone-blocking running plays against the Jackets this season. If the linebackers are supposed to be the 3-4-5 hitters, to use defensive coordinator Al Groh's euphemism, then it's time for the middle linebackers to start making tackles closer to the line of scrimmage.

For Wake Forest: Ted Stachitas. Because Tanner Price sustained a concussion in last week's loss to Florida State and wasn't able to practice earlier this week, there's a good chance that Stachitas will play a majority of the snaps. He is the team's leading rusher (164 yards) and a more accurate passer than Price (54.5 percent), but he has scored only two touchdowns and hasn't passed for one.

The numbers game

3

Players on Tech's team who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in their careers: Joshua Nesbitt, Anthony Allen and Roddy Jones.

559

Yards rushing per game that the two teams combine to average. Tech leads the ACC (320.5), and the Deacons are second (238.5).

History book

Last meeting: Tech defeated Wake Forest 30-27 in overtime last season at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Series record: Tech lead the series 21-8.

The bottom line

This game seems to be tailor-made as the cure for Tech's woes: Its offense is facing a defense that has troubles stopping the run, and its defense is facing a quarterback that has trouble moving his offense. However, the game is on the road, where Wake Forest has proved to be tough this season, and Tech has shown that it can come out with no spark. That's a dangerous combination.

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