3 storylines for Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt

As Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt prepare to meet Saturday, a look at plots that underscore the matchup.

1. Who are the Jackets?

Coach Paul Johnson is encouraged by what he has seen in the Yellow Jackets’ first two games, but it’s unclear what this team will be. As Johnson said on Tuesday, Tech can beat every team left on the schedule, and it can also lose to any of the remaining 10 opponents. What will determine it is how quickly the Jackets continue to improve, address or hide weak spots, avoid injuries and get breaks. Vanderbilt looks like it could be the toughest – and most revealing – test thus far.

2. Can Tech stop Ralph Webb?

The Tech defense will brace for its sternest test of the young season, Vanderbilt’s power running game featuring running back Ralph Webb. The junior pummeled Middle Tennessee State last week for 211 rushing yards while the team has averaged 200 rushing yards and 4.6 yards per attempt in its first two games. The one thing Tech’s defense has done in two games, though, is stop the run. The Jackets have permitted 130.5 rushing yards and 4.0 yards per carry, numbers heavily influenced by their one big bust, a 73-yard scoring run by Boston College.

3. ACC vs. SEC

As Johnson has lamented – or at least observed – it’s nigh impossible to avoid SEC talk in Atlanta. As defensive line coach Mike Pelton put it, “Big, bad SEC rolling in.” Saturday will be Tech’s turn to represent the ACC, which thus far this season is 2-2 against the SEC. The Jackets have come up short against rival Georgia in Johnson’s tenure – they’re 2-6 in his eight seasons – but are 4-2 against the rest of the league. “We hear all of it,” Johnson said of the SEC talk. “It hasn’t been our experience that there’s been any difference.”