Jerome Smith (45) and the Syracuse Orange play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in an ACC matchup Saturday. (Source: ACC Network)
(RNN) - Two different offensive systems will try to implement similar gameplans Saturday when the Syracuse Orange visit the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Tech (3-3, 2-2 ACC) head coach Paul Johnson is one of the last vestiges of the triple-option era. David Sims leads a slew of ball carriers (eight have 10 or more carries this season) for a Georgia Tech squad that is in the top 10 among all schools in rushing offense.
Quarterback Vad Lee may be one of the more polished passers the Jackets have started in years, but that doesn't mean they are anywhere close to a balanced offense. The team ranks 117th out of 123 schools in passing yards per game - averaging 131 yards through six contests.
Lee's struggle with the pass have been more pronounced lately, including a 7 for 20 performance in the 38-20 loss to BYU last week.
"We've got to protect [Lee] better in the passing game; that's the bottom line," Johnson said Tuesday. "He can help himself by getting to the right spot in his drops. He's all over the place dropping right now. But you can understand that with the pressure he's getting. It's hard to get set up when they're beating you to your spot."
Defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu has only recorded two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the year, after recording 10 and 12 respectively a season ago. However, the senior has been double-teamed for most of the year, something the Orange will need to do to keep him from having a breakout game.
Syracuse (3-3, 1-1), at 200.5 yards per game, sits 95th in the country in passing offense, despite running spread formations usually seen with teams that throw first. Most of the team's offense has been generated by running backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley.
Smith, a 220-pound junior, hammers defenders between the tackles with his physical running style, and he has gained 482 yards with eight touchdowns in 2013. He and Gulley both crossed the century mark in yardage in the Orange's 24-10 win over NC State a week ago.
Head coach Scott Shafer credited his backs and offensive line for the team's success on the ground.
"When you have multiple guys rushing the ball like that, you know it starts up front," Shafer said Monday. "Hats off to [offensive line coach Pat] Perles and the job he has done with those kids. They're really playing well."
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley has six sacks and three forced fumbles on the year; this week he was named to the Phil Steele midseason All-American team. Linebacker Marquis Spruil (36 tackles, 7.5 for loss) was named to the midseason All-ACC team.
Series notes: Georgia Tech has won both of the two previous meetings between the schools. The most recent matchup came in 2004.
Other ACC action: No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson, 8 p.m. Saturday
The marquee matchup between the two undefeated programs could have implications on the BCS title and Heisman Trophy races. Both teams feature dynamic quarterbacks who lead high-scoring offenses and fast defenses that can wreak havoc in the backfield.
Tajh Boyd leads the Clemson Tigers (6-0, 4-0) with 20 TDs (15 passing, five rushing) and only two interceptions. The senior can make gamebreaking plays with his NFL-caliber arm or his feet.
Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has shown the poise of a four-year starter through his first five games with the Seminoles (5-0, 3-0). The signal-caller has completed 73 percent of his passes and thrown for 17 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.