Duke’s option game familar to Tech defense

Georgia Tech has seen the changes in Duke’s offense in one game, the Blue Devils’ season-opening win against N.C. Central. In some ways, though, the Yellow Jackets have seen it plenty.

The Jackets, who will face Duke on Sept. 14 after the Jackets’ open date, are preparing for the Blue Devils to run read-option plays with first-year starting quarterback Anthony Boone. The Tech defense is familiar with the principles of option football — and defending it — having practiced often against Tech’s spread-option offense in the preseason.

“It definitely helps,” defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu said. “The more times you see it, the better.”

A term that opposing defensive coaches and players use when facing Tech’s offense is “assignment football,” meaning each player can’t simply pursue the ball, but must stay trained on the offensive player he is assigned to, whether he gets the ball on an option play. Tech’s defense is hearing something similar as it prepares for Duke.

“There’s a real emphasis on our eyes this week, and knowing your assignment and technique and doing it full speed,” Attaochu said. “We don’t have too many assignments on the D-line, but when you do, you want to do it full speed.”

At Thursday’s practice, coach Paul Johnson worked with the second-string offense against the first-string defense and ran option plays to help prep the defense.

“Just coming out and playing the option (as run by Tech’s offense), when it’s time to play assignment (football) on another offense, it’s really easy to understand and be able to go out and execute your assignment because you have to do it so much,” Attaochu said. “It kind of carries over.”

Fixing mistakes: Defensive coordinator Ted Roof, in his first media availability since the season opener against Elon, said "there was a lot of really, really positive things" in the 70-0 rout, namely Tech registering a shutout and scoring two defensive touchdowns.

But he said the team made mistakes that Elon wasn’t able to seize upon.

“As we move into conference play, mistakes like we made cost you plays, and then those plays cost you games,” he said.

Third-down defense is Roof’s priority this week. On third downs against Elon, there often were missed tackles, poor tracking angles or lapses in technique that enabled the Phoenix to continue drives. Further, younger players getting their first prolonged playing time didn’t play with urgency, he said. Roof called all the mistakes correctable.

Etc.: Offensive tackle Morgan Bailey, who has been held out of practice from the start of the preseason because of an undisclosed surgery, is expected to begin practicing next week, Johnson said. The same holds true for linebacker Tremayne McNair (knee). Johnson did not have an update for safety Isaiah Johnson, returning from ACL surgery. The coach has left the decision on when to return to practice up to the two-year starter. … Tech practiced in full pads Thursday, the first of three padded practices for the week. Johnson said it was "lethargic" and "it wasn't as good as you'd want."