What To Watch For Vs. Virginia


Embarking on their final road trip of the 2019 football season, this weekend the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-6, 1-4) travel north to Charlottesville, VA to square off against the Virginia Cavaliers (6-3, 4-2) at Scott Stadium. Hoping to bounce back after last week's loss to Pitt, Tech is coming off one of their worst offensive performances of the season in which they had a season low 194 yard of total offense, but one of their better defensive showcases, creating a season high 3 turnovers in the first half alone. Ahead of Saturday's matchup, here are some of the more significant storylines to follow as the game unfolds.

Similar Defensive Looks

Unfortunately for James Graham, Lucas Johnson & company, the Cavaliers had pretty similar style of play to the Pitt Panthers. UVA runs a 3-4 base defense instead of a 4-3 like Pitt does, but both teams have a very aggressive front 7, particularly in Virginia's linebacking core. All 4 starting linebackers for the Hoos in Zane Zandier, Jordan Mack, Noah Taylor and Charles Snowden have 8 or more tackle for loss and 3 or more sacks. Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude described UVA's defensive front as "hard to move" with "length across the board where they can close off gaps", particularly with Snowden. Collectively, Virginia is second in the ACC in sacks (3.78 per game, behind only Pitt) and 13th in the nation in tackles for loss (7.9 per game). As they are top 30 nationally in both passing & rushing defense, the Yellow Jackets will have to keep a balanced offense and find what works the best as the game goes along instead of going into the game with a run   heavy or pass heavy mentality.

Balanced Passing Attack

As described by head coach Geoff Collins, senior UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins is "really, really special", and he's not far off the mark. At the risk of sounding cliche, Perkins possesses the ability to make significant plays through the air and on the ground. His completion rate of 64.33 is good for 4th in the ACC, his 2,173 passing yards earns him the 2nd most passing yards in the ACC, and his 7 rushing touchdowns are the most in the ACC by a quarterback. Unlike Pitt's Kenny Pickett, Perkins does a good job evenly distributing the ball to his receivers. Virginia's offense features 3 wideouts with 40+ receptions on the season and who average 50+ receiving yards per game. Fellow seniors Hasise Duboise and Joe Reed make up the bulk of the offensive workload through the air, combining 105 receptions, 1,182 receiving yards and 7 of UVA's 12 receiving touchdowns.

Limited But Effective Pure Rushing Attack

As it pertains to running the ball, they're best described as a "quarterback-centric" offense. Reason being is that the Hoos do like to run the ball fairly often with Perkins, but don't utilize their running backs with as much frequency. Perkins actually consists of nearly half of UVA's rushing attack (143 of 288 total rushing attempts), with starting tailback sophomore Wayne Tailapapa tallying the second most attempts with 87. Tailapapa averages only 9.67 carries a game, with UVA averaging 14.1 rushing attempts per game from roster-listed tailbacks/running backs. But of his 87 rushing attempts, Tailapapa has been somewhat effective. While netting only 362 yards on the ground, his 9 rushing touchdowns is good for 4th in the ACC.

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