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Georgia Tech 49 … at Middle Tennessee 21

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Posted Sep 10, 2011


Week 2 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Georgia Tech at Middle Tennessee

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 2 - Ga Tech at Middle Tenn

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Sept. 10 Georgia Tech 49 … at Middle Tennessee 21
CFN Analysis: Tevin Washington has been on fire. The Georgia Tech quarterback completed 5-of-8 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for two scores, even though he gained just six yards. That’s okay; he conducted a ground game that finished with 282 yards and five touchdowns and ripped up the Blue Raider run defense. However, the Tech defense struggled way too much considering the offense controlled the game. The Blue Raiders were frantic and made it a little bit interesting, but it would’ve been nice to have clamped down. Kansas is coming off a shootout and won’t be a pushover next week, even in revenge game.

Middle Tennessee couldn’t get off the field. Georgia Tech hung on to the ball for almost 39 minutes after converting third down after third down, and while Logan Kilgore and the Blue Raiders came up with yards, it was way too little too late. The pass protection has been fine and the offense is putting up yards, but there aren’t enough meaningful ones. With two weeks off to prepare for Troy, figuring out how to get even more out of Benny Cunningham and the ground game is a must, while coming up with more third down stops would be something to figure out. The first two losses haven’t been truly awful, but the season will be a disaster, most likely, without a win over the Trojans in the Sun Belt opener.

(AP) MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Georgia Tech knew it could catch Middle Tennessee State in man-to-man coverage when it scored on the opening play from scrimmage in Saturday night's 49-21 victory.

Tevin Washington, who threw for two long touchdowns and ran for two more, hit Tony Zenon down the left sideline for a 73-yard TD pass 14 seconds in the game. The quick strike on Zenon's wheel route, started a 28-0 onslaught to spoil MTSU's centennial celebration.

"Coach (Paul) Johnson told me we were going to run it that whole time, so I was just trying to get in there and just focus on getting open and catching the ball and trying to get in the end zone," said Zenon, who scored his first career TD. ". It still hasn't sunk in yet. Once I get on the plane I'll start thinking about it."

One week after rolling up over 600 yards and 60 points over Western Carolina, the Yellow Jackets (2-0) proved their triple option attack could score quickly through the air or grind it out on the ground. Georgia Tech finished with 596 total yards, 382 rushing, in pounding the Blue Raiders (0-2) before a record Floyd Stadium crowd of 30,502 in the home-opener.

After the opening TD, Tech then went to the ground for all 17 plays on its next possession to score on a 98-yard drive after MTSU had downed its first punt at the 2.

"I knew they were tired, because we were tired," Tech running back David Sims said. "I think we had four or five drives where we had 10, 12, 13 plays, and that's good for us, because it lets them know we can do it."

Tech took 9:25 off the clock in that drive, had five different ball carriers and made six first downs before Washington scored on a 2-yard keeper for a 14-0 lead.

"We're real flexible," Washington said. "We can do a lot of different things with the ball. It just builds the confidence within the team and within our offense."

Washington left in the third quarter with 5 of 8 passing for 202 yards, including two first-half TD strikes of 70-plus yards.

"It was a team focus for the offseason and really day to day in practice. We've got to have a passing game," Washington said. "We got in a lot of situations last year where we needed to throw the ball and we weren't that good at it. And we're just trying to make sure this year that when we have to throw the ball we give ourselves a chance."

Sims and backup quarterback Synjyn Days led Tech's rushers with 91 yards each.

MTSU started out at its second possession at its 40 when the kickoff went out of bounds, and then Logan Kilgore hit Anthony Amos for a 20-yard pass on first down. But the Blue Raiders' drive stalled at the Tech 29 and Alan Gendreau missed wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt.

The Yellow Jackets then went back to the air and scored again on one play, this time needing 11 seconds on Washington's 71-yard pass play to Stephen Hill.

"I prefer when the offense does those long drives, those long five-minute drives and give us a break," Tech defensive end Izaan Cross joked. "But when they're scoring it makes it a lot easier for us to just relax and try to get a couple of stops and get them back on the field."

Hill was hit by defenders around the 32, but broke loose for the 21-0 lead at 2:12 in just the first quarter.

Middle Tennessee got good field position when Eric Russell returned the kickoff 39 yards to the MTSU 44. And the Blue Raiders even converted on a fourth-down when Benjamin Cunningham ran the fake punt for 18 yards. Two plays later, however, Isaiah Johnson picked off Kilgore's pass at the Tech 10.

This time, Georgia Tech mixed up the pass and the run to build the 28-0 lead at just 10:45 in the second quarter. Washington connected with Hill for a 43-yard hookup, and Roddy Jones and Sims had 14-yard carries on the seven-play drive before Washington kept on the option for a 7-yard TD run and a 28-0 advantage.

"When you play a Georgia Tech, you can't give up big plays like we did tonight," Blue Raider Coach Rick Stockstill said. "If we could've made a field goal and scored one more touchdown in the first half, things would've looked a lot better."

Johnson also came up with a fumble recovery on the Blue Raiders' next drive. But Tech had to punt for the first time seven minutes before halftime.

Middle finally put together an 11-play scoring drive to get on the board 3:12 before halftime. D.D. Kyles kept dragging defenders into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown run.

Georgia Tech was the third Atlantic Coast Conference visitor to MTSU stadium since the Raiders moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1999. But the Yellow Jackets were the first to blow out MTSU, with Virginia winning by only two in 2007 and Maryland losing in '08.

Middle Tennessee was celebrating its 100-year anniversary with a birthday cake unveiled at halftime of the home-opener.

Tech had rolled up 242 yards of offense in the first quarter and had 350 by intermission.

The Yellow Jackets tacked on another touchdown midway through the third quarter when Orwin Smith's 2-yard TD run capped an 11-play, 6-minute drive that covered 85 yards.

Georgia Tech put in Days on the next series, and he directed two touchdown drives. The redshirt freshman ran 10- and 28-yard keepers before scoring on a 5-yard run with 1:27 left in the third.

MTSU got another score with 13:06 to go in the game on Cunningham's 1-yard run. After both teams swapped fumbles, Kilgore lateraled to Andrew Banks who threw to Cunningham for a 27-yard gain to the Tech 11. Days and Tech added another TD at 3:16 to go on his 1-yard keeper, and MTSU's backup quarterback Jeff Murphy threw an 18-yard TD strike to Sancho McDonald in the final minute. Georgia Tech, which returns home to face Kansas next Saturday, was among those receiving votes in last week's Associated Press poll

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Georgia Tech (1-0) at Middle Tennessee (0-1) Sept. 10, 7:00, ESPN3.com

Here’s The Deal … After throttling Western Carolina, 63-21, a week ago, Georgia Tech is about to take a gradual ascent up the competitive ladder with a trip to Murfreesboro. The Yellow Jackets ought to be very, very careful in their preparation. Just ask Purdue. The Boilermakers needed to rally in the final five minutes, getting a touchdown with 49 seconds left to avoid the upset bid. The Blue Raiders outgained the Boilermakers 460-420, and were completely unfazed by the trip to Ross-Ade Stadium. Now, they get a second chance to face an opponent from a major conference, this time in front of the home crowd. So what is the deal with Tech in 2011? The expectations are modest after the program slipped to 6-7 in 2010, but those 63 points were impressive against any caliber of competition. The trip west to Tennessee will shed more light on the potential of Paul Johnson fourth Georgia Tech team.

Why Georgia Tech Might Win: The Yellow Jackets triple-option can grind out yards on the ground about as well as any program in America. They’ll throw a wave of quality runners at the Blue Raiders, including QB Tevin Washington and backs Orwin Smith and Roddy Jones. But wait, there’s more. Tech is committed to throwing the ball with more success than a year ago, in part because of a green offensive line that needs the diversity of assignments. Washington and backup Synjyn Days appear to be up to the challenge, combining to go 11-of-16 for 365 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. Imposing WR Stephen Hill caught four of the balls for 181 yards and two scores, flashing the next-level potential that should concern an iffy Middle Tennessee D.

Why Middle Tennessee Might Win: Just one game into the season, head coach Rick Stockstill already has his offense clicking. The Blue Raiders had few problems navigating the Purdue defense, cranking out 330 yards through the air and just enough production on the ground. QB Logan Kilgore was outstanding as the successor to Dwight Dasher, spreading the ball around to capable receivers Malcolm Beyah, Sancho McDonald and Tavarres Jefferson. Plus, the offensive line is a salty bunch that won’t become unglued at the sight of an average Georgia Tech defense. The Yellow Jackets are still tinkering with the secondary, a concern when facing an evolving Middle Tennessee passing attack.

What To Watch Out For: The offensive line is going to be a concern all year for Georgia Tech. It’s not very big or experienced, and the staff knows its limitations. The Blue Raiders will present problems, especially if they’ve had enough time to scheme for the option. S Eric Russell and linebackers Darin Davis and Craig Allen possess the speed and range to string out plays before they develop. Middle Tennessee’s biggest concern on the other side of the field might be No. 17, Smith, who racked up 178 total yards and two scores on only 10 touches last Saturday.

What Will Happen: For the second straight week, Middle Tennessee will cop a moral victory, the kind that has no impact on bowl-eligibility. The Blue Raiders will be confident and fired up in front of the home crowd, going blow-for-blow on offense with Georgia Tech. However, the Yellow Jackets have a habit of wearing out opponents with their relentless ground assault. They’ve also got a deep rotation of backs, ideal for handling the sweltering September temperatures. Oh, and if the Raiders decide to stack the box, Washington has shown he’s capable of making the move hurt through the air.

CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 33 … Middle Tennessee 30
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Georgia Tech -11.5    O/U: 56.6

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