One of the big questions facing Georgia Tech in its game Saturday at Pittsburgh – Can the Yellow Jackets create enough pass pressure to unsteady Panthers quarterback Chad Voytik?
The numbers would suggest it’ll take some doing. A look at the ACC's defenses, ranked by passes per sack.
Last Saturday, Tech brought down UNC quarterback Marquise Williams but once despite 47 pass attempts, although Williams evaded sack opportunities by throwing a lot of quick-hitting passes.
Coach Paul Johnson sounded like a coach ready to do whatever it took to get to Voytik on Saturday.
“We’ve got to help (the front four),” Johnson said. “We’ve got to be creative with it. We’ve got to bring enough people to get pressure. If four isn’t getting pressure, you bring five. If five can’t get pressure, you bring six. If six can’t get pressure, you bring seven.”
It reminded me of Sean Connery’s exhortation to Kevin Costner in “The Untouchables” about “the Chicago Way.”
It could mean a steady dose of Quayshawn Nealy and P.J. Davis attempting to disrupt Voytik, who has thrown exactly one interception in each of the past six games. Of course, if Tech brings blitz pressure, someone has to actually get there. Tech brought seven on one of the critical plays of the North Carolina game - the fourth-and-6 from the Tech 36-yard line that turned into a touchdown - but couldn't reach quarterback Marquise Williams in time.
But the main responsibility still falls upon linemen KeShun Freeman, Shawn Green, Adam Gotsis and Kyle Travis to win one-on-one matchups on the line.
Defensive line coach Mike Pelton said that Gotsis, the only returning starter of the group, “feels like he’s a guy that’s got to make plays, so he presses and he tries to do things that’s not Adam-like.”
Pelton doesn’t accept that Tech’s pass-rush shortcomings are necessarily a function of talent.
“A lot of it is technique and a lot of it is (studying) game film and understanding the things that you do and understanding the thing that (opponents) struggle with, it’s a combination of it all,” Pelton said. “You can’t defend or you can’t actually try to bea ta guy if you’re not looking at a guy, (but) you’re staring at a quarterback. That’s one thing that we have a problem (with). We’re so occupied with looking at the quarterbacks instead of rushing to get to the quarterbacks.”