ATLANTA — Paul Johnson says Georgia Tech’s powerful running game, which was dominant in last week’s lopsided win over Boston College, will face a different challenge on Saturday against Brigham Young’s stout run defense.
The Yellow Jackets ended a three-game losing streak by running 91 plays – the team’s high mark in five years under Johnson – and running for nearly 400 yards in the 37-17 win over Boston College.
Georgia Tech (3-4) boasts the nation’s No. 3 running game in Johnson’s spread-option attack.
BYU (4-4), which is an independent, ranks eighth in the nation against the run. The Cougars’ defense has taken some hits in back-to-back losses to two undefeated teams, Oregon State and Notre Dame.
BYU gave up 270 yards rushing in last week’s 17-14 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame. The Cougars gave up 450 yards in a 42-24 loss to Oregon State the previous week.
Johnson noted BYU also has a loss to a third Top 25 team, No. 21 Boise State.
Johnson opened his weekly news conference on Tuesday by saying BYU is “a really, really good football team.”
“I don’t think their record indicates how good a team they are,” Johnson said. “They’ve lost three games to ranked teams, two in the top 10. They are top 10 in about every defensive category and they’re always a big, physical team, and this year is no exception.
“They are well-coached and playing very well, especially defensively.”
Georgia Tech’s struggles on defense have led to Johnson’s midseason switch of defensive coordinators. Johnson replaced Al Groh in a bye week before the Boston College game and named secondary coach Charles Kelly the interim coordinator for the remainder of the season.
The defense, which had allowed more than 40 points in three consecutive losses, seemed to respond to Kelly’s efforts to simplify the scheme.
No changes have been needed on offense. Quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Vad Lee combined for 125 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and running back Zach Laskey added 101 yards rushing.
The Yellow Jackets are averaging 37.7 points per game.