In last year’s meeting, in Atlanta, Georgia Tech gashed Mississippi State for 438 rushing yards, and RB Jonathan Dwyer had an 88-yard touchdown run as part of his 141-yard day. Tech won, 38-7.
Since giving up 390 rushing yards to Auburn on Sept. 12, MSU has locked down on run defense, giving up just 33 yards to Vanderbilt and 30 to LSU. On this morning’s ACC coaches’ teleconference, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson commended State’s improvement in defending the run.
“They fly to the ball. Been really impressed with their inside linebackers; well, all three linebackers are good players,” Johnson said. “It just looks like they’re flying around, playing hard. They’re very aggressive, and they’re going to come get you, so you’ve got to be ready.”
Johnson, who’s also head coached at Navy and Georgia Southern, doesn’t recall ever matching up against MSU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush. But obviously, he knows a lot about the veteran coach.
“Carl’s always been a really good coach, a good defensive coach, has a great reputation, and you can see that he’s got the guys playing very hard.”
Other highlights from Johnson’s chat with the media.
• On GT’s schedule, which so far has included ACC foes Clemson (30-27 win), Miami (33-17 loss) and North Carolina (24-7 win), and which later this year features Vanderbilt and Georgia: “Our schedule is very tough this year. I think to begin with, it was really front-end loaded. We’ve had tough teams for the last three weeks, so it won’t be any different this week.”
• On Tech rover (safety) Morgan Burnett, who has three INTs: “Not only is he a good athlete, but he has great awareness of what’s going on. When he puts his eyes in the right place and does the right thing, he can come up with a lot of big plays for us. Some kids are just blessed with that ability, and certainly he has it.”
• On how long it takes to install an offense: “It depends on the team, and it probably depends on the offense, and the guys playing, staying healthy, a lot of things. I don’t know that you can put a timetable on it. We’re certainly still working on trying to get better every week. We’re not close to being where we’d like to be.”
• Also, it should be noted that backup QB Jaybo Shaw has been cleared to play after missing Tech’s first four games due to a broken collarbone. Starter Josh Nesbitt was hurt early in last year’s meeting with MSU, and Shaw came on and didn’t miss a beat, rushing for 61 yards and throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass.