Swarming Georgia Tech defense bottles up Vandy’s Ralph Webb

Georgia Tech’s defense allowed 85 rushing yards Saturday against Vanderbilt in Tech’s first time holding back-to-back opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards since 2013 — Ted Roof’s first season as defensive coordinator.

After limiting Mercer to 85 rushing yards on Sept. 10, the Yellow Jackets’ defense entered Saturday’s game allowing an average of 130.5 rushing yards per game, 9th in the ACC.

“We wanted to gear up to the stop the run and, I was just looking at it, we held them under 100 yards rushing, so that’s pretty good,” coach Paul Johnson said.

Running back Ralph Webb was the Commodores’ (1-2) leading rusher on Saturday with 69 yards on 18 attempts.

Webb, a junior, ran for 97 yards against South Carolina and 211 yards against Middle Tennessee State and was on the Jackets’ radar headed into the game.

“Obviously, he was a big factor in our game plan, but we went out there an our focus was to wrap up and make gang tackles and swarm to the ball and that’s what we did,” linebacker Brant Mitchell said.

In Saturday’s first half, the Jackets allowed 68 rushing yards, but Vanderbilt’s running game collapsed in the second half, gaining only 17 yards.

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason and the coaching staff plan to look over Saturday’s game on Monday and determine why the run game couldn’t gain traction.

“It was sort of like popcorn in there,” Masons said. “It really wasn’t clean for the back, so the back didn’t know where to stay on their track. But by the same token, I thought they did a good job of creating some separation and not being like Velcro and getting off blocks. I thought we missed a couple of run opportunities. There were some holes there. But with that being said, you give credit to Georgia Tech and you look at Vanderbilt and we got to go back and get some things fixed.”

Entering Saturday, Vanderbilt averaged 200 rushing yards per game. The Commodores gained 169 rushing yards in their season opener against South Carolina.

Sophomore running back Khari Blasingame, the Commodores’ second-leading rusher on Saturday, totaled 11 rushing yards.

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