When you glance at the Georgia Tech stat sheet it looks like a typographical error.
The “it” is the Yellow Jackets’ average rushing yards per game.
Mired in a three-game losing streak Georgia Tech can trace many of its problems to issues in the running game. Normally ranked among the top rushing teams the Jackets are averaging a pedestrian 229 yards per game which is 26th in the nation.
Georgia Southern, incidentally, is averaging 286.6 which is good enough to rank as the sixth best rushing team in the country. The Eagles are allowing 130.8 yards per game after giving up 343 to Arkansas State last week.
The Yellow Jackets and Eagles will meet for only the second time ever at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. Tech won the first meeting two years ago, 42-38, when it scored with 23 seconds to play.
Tech has eclipsed the 300-yard mark only once this season, and that was against Mercer when it went for 354. Clemson held the Jackets to 95 yards, and Boston College gave up only 119.
Nevertheless Georgia Southern Coach Tyson Summers knows his team is going to be in for a dogfight, and its biggest challenge will be the Tech running game.
“Obviously Georgia Tech is a talented football team,” Summers said. “They’ve been in some tight games, and I know they have not necessarily had the success they would like to have had the last few weeks.
“But, they’ve played as well as anyone can. They’ve done a good job on offense.”
Former Georgia Southern coach Paul Johnson’s team opened the season with three straight wins, but has dropped its last three as it lost to Clemson, Miami and Pitt.
Losing to No. 3 Clemson, 26-7, was no surprise, but the loss to the Hurricanes was compounded by two fumbles returned for touchdowns, and Pitt kicked a field goal on the final play of the game for a 37-34 win.
Derrick Mills has run for 357 yards and seven touchdowns for Tech while Clinton Lynch has 254 on 19 attempts.
The key to the Jacket attack is quarterback Justin Thomas who the Eagles remember well from two years ago. Thomas has 206 yards on 64 attempts which is somewhat misleading in that he has lost 100 yards. Tech has allowed six sacks.
Thomas has completed 41 of 80 passes with one interception for 588 yards and three scores. His leading receiver is Ricky Jeune with 12 catches for 176 yards.
“With this offense discipline comes into play,” Summers said. “When you play Georgia Tech you have to play disciplined football. You’ve got to play tough football, get off the blocks and get to the ball.
“Everybody’s got an assignment, everybody’s got a key. It’s the same way with any offense, but this is about being able to get push, get off blocks, and stay with your assignment.”
While acknowledging his team has a tough assignment the first year Eagle coach relishes the challenge and the opportunity.
“I think it’s a cool game,” summers said. “The history of Paul Johnson being here, Mike Sewak having been here, both former head coaches at Georgia Southern, being able to take all the ties of these guys from in-state, a Power 5 opponent, an in-state opponent.
“I think there’s a lot of tradition overlapping between the two places. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”