2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - WCU at Georgia Tech
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Sept. 1 at Georgia Tech 63 … Western Carolina 21
CFN Analysis: Tevin Washington showed that he really might be ready to be the do-it-all quarterback who can take Georgia Tech to a big season. He only ran for 34 yards against Western Carolina, but he didn't need to do much on the ground as the rest of the backs took care of the production for him. The key to the game was his passing, completing 8-of-13 throws for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and while the ground game came up with 297 yards and six scores, there were too many fumbles and it wasn't as sharp as head coach Paul Johnson is going to like. Middle Tennessee and Kansas should give the O time to tune up before North Carolina, but 63 points are 63 points; it was a strong opener.
(AP) - Orwin Smith scored two of Georgia Tech's four first-quarter touchdowns, Stephen Hill caught two touchdown passes from Tevin Washington and Georgia Tech beat Western Carolina 63-21 on Thursday night in the opener for both teams.
The Yellow Jackets piled up 662 yards of total offense - their most productive game since 2000 - but they struggled throughout the night to hold on to the football, losing two of six fumbles and allowing a second-quarter punt to get blocked and recovered for a touchdown.
Brandon Pechloff had 180 yards passing for Western Carolina. Georgia Tech, facing an FCS opponent that dropped to 10-46 since the start of 2006, showed flashes of a formidable passing game after ranking 119th in the nation last year as Washington completed eight of 13 passes for 271 yards and three TDs.
Western Carolina (0-0) at Georgia
Tech (0-0) Sept. 1, 7:30
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Here's The Deal … Western Carolina and Georgia Tech failed to meet expectations in 2010. However, the 2011 season gives both programs an excellent opportunity to turn things around. Almost nothing went right for Western Carolina, as they limped to a 2-9 record. On offense, the Catamounts started three different quarterbacks due to injuries and inconsistent play. Even when the offense got going, the defense could not stop anyone, yielding 34.5 points per game. The Yellow Jackets had similar troubles last fall. They entered the season with high expectations after winning the ACC Championship in 2009. The defense struggled with new coordinator Al Groh's scheme, derailing any hopes of a repeat visit to the title game. The offense failed to score points after losing Joshua Nesbitt to a broken arm against Virginia Tech. Each team needs to win this game to set the tone for the season. A Catamount victory over an ACC opponent would establish them as a contender in the Southern Conference. Likewise, a Georgia Tech win would help erase last year's dismal season, and start 2011 on a positive note.
Why Western Carolina Might Win: When you are down, there is only direction to go. Turnovers doomed Western Carolina last year. Even though the team failed to score points, the Catamounts actually moved the ball through the air consistently against a tough Southern Conference schedule. This trend has continued throughout preseason practices as returning QB's Zach Brindise and Brandon Pechloff have each kept the offense rolling. Regardless of who takes snaps, Western Carolina should have plenty of time to throw the ball against an anemic Georgia Tech pass rush that ranked toward the bottom of the ACC in sacks a year ago. With ample time to throwl, the Catamounts can control the clock with the short passing game, and limit the number of possessions for the Jackets offense.
Why Georgia Tech Might Win: Coach Paul Johnson's teams have always run the ball successfully, and this season will be no different. Georgia Tech led the nation in rushing last season by averaging over 320 yards per game, and amassing a robust 5.6 yards per carry. On the other hand, Western Carolina could not stop opponents from establishing the run, yielding 4.7 yards per carry. If the Catamounts could not stop FCS opponents, there's no way that they will be able contain a more physical BCS conference team. Georgia Tech's athletic offensive line should be able to overpower its smaller opponents, allowing the offense to run right into the teeth of the WCU defense. By establishing itself on the line of scrimmage, the Georgia Tech offense will take control of the game, and sustain long drives.
What To Watch Out For: The Catamounts will go to the air, and place their hopes in the hands of electrifying WR Deja Alexander. As Western's top playmaker last season, Alexander led the team in receiving yards, and earned a place on the Southern Conference All-Freshman team. He stepped up in games against top competition, catching nine passes for 151 yards against perennial FCS title contender Appalachian State. The sophomore will need to turn in another stellar performance in order to keep the Catamounts in the game. With opposing offenses worrying about Julian Burnett and Steven Sylvester, Georgia Tech will rely heavily on the continued improvement of LB Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu has started only one game in his career, but made the most of it, recording 23 tackles and three sacks in the Independence Bowl last season. Attaochu needs to provide a spark in the pass rush, something the Yellow Jackets lacked last season. With increased pressure, the Tech defense should improve its numbers against the pass despite breaking in four new starters in the secondary.
What Will Happen: Georgia Tech will dominate this game from the outset. While Western Carolina will look to get the ball to Alexander, the Tech pass rush will harass the Catamount's, leading to some costly turnovers. On the other side of the ball, the Yellow Jacket offensive line will dominate the smaller Carolina front, opening up huge holes for QB Tevin Washington and the Jackets running backs.
CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 42 ... Western Carolina 10
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