TaQuon Marshall looks on during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

3 keys for Georgia Tech against Wake Forest

Georgia Tech will go for its fourth win of the season against Wake Forest Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets are trying to forget the crushing loss to Miami last Saturday and look forward with hopes of competing for the ACC Coastal Division title. To beat Wake Forest, here are three objectives for the Jackets.

1. Handle Wake Forest’s run game

In losses the past two games, Wake Forest had a tough time in the running game against Florida State and Clemson, not surprisingly, gaining a total of 229 yards on the ground. Miami gouged Tech for a season-high 184 yards last Saturday, so both the Demon Deacons offense and the Yellow Jackets defense will be seeking to return to better play at the cost of the other. Tech did not tackle as well as it had in previous games, and Miami running back Travis Homer was difficult to stop.

Three players get most of the carries for Wake Forest, quarterback John Wolford (66.4 yards per game, four rushing touchdowns) and running backs Arkeem Byrd (44.5 yarsd per game, team-best 5.4 yards per carry) and Matt Colburn (30 yards per game, 2 rushing touchdowns).

Wake Forest runs about 62 percent of the time, so giving the Demon Deacons trouble there could force them into an uncomfortable place.

2. Establish more of a passing game

Tech has an 88/12 run/pass ratio through five games, high even for the Jackets. Part of it is due to the success that Tech has had picking up first downs on the ground, but part of it also is that the Jackets have had some issues with the passing game. On his radio show on Monday, coach Paul Johnson said he told the offense this week that he’d like to throw the ball more, but ineffective protection, route running and passing have dissuaded him from that choice. Johnson said that “we’re at our best” when the team attempts 15 to 20 passes per game. Tech has been attempting 8.4 per game. Particularly with Clemson coming up next, the more the Jackets demonstrate that the passing game is in order, the better. 

3. Get good play from Brenton King and backup linebackers

With the season-ending knee injury to kicker Shawn Davis, freshman Brenton King will step into the starting lineup. King has already played in two games and has acquitted himself well, but being the starter will be a new step for him. Johnson has said he feels comfortable out to about 40 yards with King.

Also, with linebacker Brant Mitchell out, defensive coordinator Ted Roof can get more game reps for linebackers such as Terrell Lewis and Bruce Jordan-Swilling.

As Davis is out for the season and Mitchell’s timetable is uncertain, gaining as much playing time as possible for the backups will be advantageous.

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