Georgia Tech offensive tackle Will Bryan came by his love for Georgia naturally. Bryan’s father Mac played on the offensive line for the Bulldogs in 1983-84. Further, his brother Justin played baseball for Georgia in 2012-13.
His affinities, obviously, have changed.
“I grew up a huge Georgia fan, but thankfully I’m not anymore,” said Bryan, a first-year freshman who has started the past five games.
Bryan said he began to cool his ardor for the Bulldogs as he entered high school and decided he wanted to make a college decision based on what school fit him best, not what school he loved (or hated).
“And then Tech was great education, love the coaches, love the character of the teammates I’d be playing with and the facilities were all great,” Bryan said. “I figured this was the place for me. And then I started hating Georgia.”
Bryan said Georgia pursued him later with a scholarship offer conditional upon his decommitment from Tech.
“So obviously that didn’t happen,” Bryan said.
His brother transferred to Tech and walked on to the football team before trying out for the baseball team this fall. Will’s antipathy for red and black grew naturally.
“You have to hate ’em,” he said. “It’s good, old-fashioned hate. It’s the greatest rivalry in college football.”
More regarding Bryan
With his five starts, Bryan has the most starts for any first-year freshman offensive lineman in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure. The only other first-year freshman offensive lineman to start a game was Shaquille Mason, in the 2011 Sun Bowl.
He has played this season at 278 pounds, well on the light side for an ACC offensive tackle. He has taken a pounding this season. It’s been all he can do to avoid dropping weight over the course of the season, a chore he doesn’t relish.
“I just eat and don’t really stop,” he said.
Ted Roof on Georgia offense
They're going to run the football and they want to control the clock and control the tempo of the game and then off the play action, when they can max protect it, they’re taking deep shots and trying to hit home runs. They’ve also got a good screen game, so when they run everybody off and create the separation in space to be able to screen it, (they’ve) got explosive athletes that can make big plays. They’re jumping in the wildcat a lot more and things like that. They’re doing a lot of different things and they’re doing it with really good players.
Senior secondary bows out
Tech's four seniors in the secondary will leave after lengthy stays in the starting lineup. Cornerback D.J. White has started 34 games, cornerback Chris Milton 32, safety Jamal Golden 31 and safety Demond Smith 30. It obviously hasn't been the final season any anticipated, though teasing out where the secondary fell short and where the pass rush did is not easy.
Still, they leave with a lot of plays made and games won.
Roof: "I’ve got a lot of respect for them and admiration for them and appreciate what they’ve done for our program, not only on the field but in the way they’ve conducted themselves off the field and the way they’ve represented our football program and our institution. They’re what this place is all about. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for them and they've played an awful lot of football. Been through some rally good times and been through some hard times this year. I appreciate the way that they’ve led our young guys."
With B-back Marcus Allen likely out with an undisclosed injury, Patrick Skov appears to be the likely starter Saturday, at least according to the depth chart. Skov and Allen shared the starter’s line on the depth chart released Tuesday, ahead of Marcus Marshall. Skov started last week against Miami.
For the second year in a row, the home team will supply officials from its conference. Last year was the first in which the practice was changed. Previously, ACC officials worked the game at Sanford Stadium and SEC officials handled the game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
One last chance
Tech’s kickoff return team has one last chance to hit a big return. The Jackets’ longest return this season is 34 yards. Going back to 2002 – the last date Tech has annual statistics on its website – it’s the shortest long return of any season. (Not sure of a better way to explain that concisely. Of the longest returns of any season going back to 2002, the 34-yard return this season is the shortest)
The 19.1 yards-per-return average is also the lowest dating back to 2002. This season’s returns have arguably been more consistent, as there isn’t a 60- or 70-yard return to prop up the average. Also, the average is weighted down by a five-yard return by linebacker Brant Mitchell in the season opener and a Mikell Lands-Davis return that was reduced to one yard by penalty in the FSU game. Ironically, that was a sky kick that Lands-Davis returned to the Tech 48, but a penalty wiped it out. Regardless, it hasn’t helped Tech in the field-position game.
As with any unit, it appears to be an 11-man fix, not just returners Golden and Marcus Marshall.
“It hasn’t been really good,” Johnson said. “So you’re always hopeful maybe it’ll be our time to break one.”
Georgia is 66th in the country in opposition kickoff return at 21.3 yards per return. The Bulldogs have given up one kickoff return for a touchdown in the past 57 games, a stretch of 245 kickoffs.
If you're going to the game
Fans attending Saturday’s game will want to note the following:
Security at the gates will be heightened – all bags will be checked and no bags larger than 14x10x5 inches will be permitted inside Bobby Dodd Stadium. A list of permitted and prohibited items is at the Tech athletics website.
The school recommends arriving early to avoid delays.
Tech parking lots open at 7 a.m., and stadium gates open at 10:30 a.m.
There will be a flyover by a squadron of F-16 fighter jets approximately 20 minutes before the noon kickoff. Tech’s 22 seniors will be honored on the field immediately after that.
At each gate, Tech athletes will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and cash donations for the Michael Isenhour Toy Drive, which will distribute toys to needy children in metro Atlanta. The drive is named in honor of the former Tech basketball player who led the first drive in 2001 and died the following year after a battle with leukemia.