Three things to watch when Georgia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC) plays Mercer (0-1) on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium:
1. Play with a certain edge. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson wants to see his players, particularly those on the offensive line, hit somebody. He even asked on Monday how many “big licks” his players put on Boston College’s in last week’s season-opening win. He plainly said on Tuesday that he wants to see the linemen come off the ball and hit their opponents in the mouth. Johnson said he is tired of reasons for why the players on the offensive line simply won’t fire off the ball and instead point to communication issues as some of the reasons why the offense has struggled since the loss to Notre Dame in the third game of the 2015 season.
2. If the line plays with that edge … then Georgia Tech’s rushing game should improve upon last week’s anemic 119-yard effort. The Yellow Jackets have talent at quarterback with Justin Thomas, there is talent at B-back with Marcus Marshall (Dedrick Mills is suspended) and there is talent at A-back with Clinton Lynch, Qua Searcy and the rest. If Tech doesn’t run for a significant amount of yards against the Bears, then there should be concern about the team’s ability to make it back to a bowl this season.
3. Building a pass rush. The Yellow Jackets sacked Boston College’s Patrick Towles once last week, but were able to pressure him a few times. In addition to causing a fumble, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said there were other chances for sacks that didn’t happen because of poor angles taken by his players.