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Defensive coordinator Mike Archer met with the media following practice on Tuesday to discuss the unique challenge that is defending the Georgia Tech offense.
The Yellow Jackets employ the triple-option offense under coach Paul Johnson and have been wildly successful this year. In addition to enjoying the second-best rushing attack (398.75 yards per game) in the country, Georgia Tech leads the NCAA in scoring offense (53.25), total offense (630.5), passing efficiency rating (283.59) and yards per attempt (19.7). Also, redshirt junior quarterback Tevin Washington has stepped in for departed starter Joshua Nesbitt and completed 64.3 percent of his passes on the year, a significant improvement from the team's 38.1 completion percentage last year.
A full transcript of what Archer had to say is below.
Can you talk about the challenges this Georgia Tech offense presents?
Yeah, it's a big challenge, obviously. They're leading the nation in scoring offense and total offense, the biggest thing [different] from last year is the ability to throw the football, the big plays. I think their leading rusher is one of their wingbacks, it's not the fullback; he's taken a couple of option pitches [for big plays]. He took one 95 yards against Kansas on the first place and the big play ability in the passing game is what's made them even tougher to defend.
Talk about their big receiver, Stephen Hill
He's a big guy, he's 6-5, and that's the guy that the quarterback looks to throw to. He's got 14 catches and obviously that's the guy that, in crucial situations, that pass offense revolves around. We have to be aware because they're going to move him around. They're going to put him in position to where he's going to be outside sometimes and he's going to be in the slot, we have to be well-aware of where he is because he is a major part of their offense.
Is this a game where you concede that the defense is going to give up yards and you have to focus on limiting the points they get?
We played them last year and, with the exception of four plays, I think we played very well in the running game. Then, we gave up a touchdown drive of 82 yards that consisted of two passes early in the fourth quarter that got them back in it. That's the thing, you've got to eliminate the big plays, you've got to make them keep snapping it. They're going to get yards because of the way the offense is designed, but you have to make them kick field goals in the red zone and keep them out of the red zone.
Can you talk a little about the play of true freshman defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, he looked pretty active against Cincinnati?
He was forced into play obviously because of the injury situation and he's going to play again on Saturday. He's a freshman and, for all intents and purposes, we were going to try to redshirt him but that all changed quickly, about three weeks ago. He did some good things and then he did some things that really hurt us, too, that the average fan doesn't see. But, he's young and the great thing about him is he'll get better.
How about redshirt freshman defensive end Art Norman?
Art has done some really good things and he's a little bit like T.Y., this is his first go-around so he's learning on the run. Thursday night, he had some really good pass rushes and there were other times when you sit there and scratch your head. That's part of the learning curve, that's part of playing with young guys. You just have to take the good with the bad.
Is he a guy where, ideally, you would want him not playing as many snaps?
There's no question, the plan for him was to be the backup, to plug him in for 20 snaps a game. Now, he's playing 60 but we have no control over that so we just have to bite the bullet. It gets back to you get better with reps. He's going to be that much of a better player as the year goes on. He's gotten better each week as he sees things for the first time and I think the speed of the game is the biggest thing the young guys have to get adjusted to.
Of those young guys who wouldn't be playing if it wasn't for these injuries, who has impressed you the most?
I think obviously T.Y. has done some good things because we hoped we wouldn't have to play him. Art was redshirted last year but he wasn't going to have to play 60-plus [snaps]. Theo Rich has played, Sylvester Crawford has played so those guys; and the true freshmen linebackers - Michael Peek and Brandon Pittman have played because of the injuries to Terrell [Manning]. We have to get them in the game and get them some reps.
For those guys who haven't played Georgia Tech before, how much of a learning curve is it?
It's the speed of the game. When we watch the film, the thing is they don't understand is how fast it is going to happen. You can't really simulate it out here [on the practice field], you don't realize how fast that guard gets up on you and how fast the back lowers on you and cuts you. That's the hard part, when you watch it on film, you still don't understand it. The guys that played last year can relate it to them but you have to go out there and see it.
What's the difference between their quarterback last year, Joshua Nesbitt, and this year, Tevin Washington?
He can throw it, he's a very accurate thrower. They're two different type of quarterbacks. Nesbitt was a big, strong running back playing quarterback that didn't have a great throwing motion. This guy is not as big and as strong as Nesbitt but he's a much better thrower and he's made some big plays for them.
Can you talk about Darryl Cato-Bishop moving down to defensive tackle and how important of a role he will play in trying to stop this offense?
He played that position last year against them. Because of what's happened, we had no choice, he was the one big body that we could put down inside that's played there and knew the part. That was kind of a no-brainer.