ATLANTA — Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson's personal scouting report on Georgia Tech starts with one player — Anthony Allen.
With Georgia off last week, Robinson drove to Atlanta and saw Allen have 34 carries for 165 yards in the Yellow Jackets' 30-20 win over Duke. The big game put Allen, a senior, over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. It also put Allen at the center of Georgia's defensive focus.
"He's the centerpiece basically," Robinson said Tuesday. "If he gets the ball really quickly, you've got to stop him. He's the first threat you've got to take care of."
Robinson says Allen (6-2, 229) can hurt defenses with his speed and strength.
Allen, who lined up on the perimeter as an A-back last season, moved behind the quarterback this year to the B-back spot. Jonathan Dwyer had 1,395 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns as the B-back last season, and many expected a smooth transition to Allen, the Louisville transfer.
But the adjustment for Allen wasn't easy. He only had six carries for 28 yards in Georgia Tech's opener against South Carolina State and only had one 100-yard effort in his first five games.
"I don't think it was as much about not getting the carries," Allen said after Tuesday's practice. "I wasn't filling the position like I was supposed to. I wasn't hitting the holes and making the right reads."
Allen said he studied more tape and became more comfortable at his new position.
"That's when the carries came," he said.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said Allen, who has 1,059 yards rushing with five touchdowns, is peaking at the end of the season.
Allen has averaged 122.3 yards rushing the last three games and ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with his average of 96.3 yards rushing per game. He's a big reason Georgia Tech leads the nation with 319.4 yards rushing per game.
"Anthony Allen is really the key," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "... He can hit it up in there and get 1, he can hit it up in there and get 4, he can hit it up in there and get 6, then all of a sudden he goes for 65. You say, how can you not stop a guy going up the gut? Well, it's because everybody is playing the pitch and run.
"He's the key for them. The B-back is always important in that system."
Allen has played a larger role since Tevin Washington took over for injured senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, who hopes to return for a bowl game. Georgia Tech is likely to lean on Allen again in Saturday night's game at Georgia.
"I think he has played really well in the last half of the year," Johnson said. "I think he has gotten comfortable. Saturday, I thought he ran hard. He ended up with a lot of yards and almost all of them were inside the tackles. I think he is playing his best football in this last stretch for sure."
The 34 carries against Duke set a season high and may have earned the senior a chance to serve as the workhorse in the offense again this week.
"I thought he handled it well," Johnson said. "I brought him out in the last drive for a couple plays and he goes 'I'm ready to go back.' He wanted to go back. I think he accepted the role and he likes getting the ball."
Allen is hoping to make a good last impression against a Georgia defense that ranks 23rd in the nation against the run, allowing 125.4 yards per game.
"It's a what have you done for me lately type of world," Allen said. "I'm trying to stay fresh in everybody's mind the last couple of weeks."
Georgia players have noticed.
"He's a great runner, a hard runner," said Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs. "Good size. He has speed to break away. Somebody that you have to wrap up and get 11 helmets to the ball. He has to be gang tackled.
"You can't sit back there and just run toward him and think he's going to go down. He's a hard runner. He's come a long way."