Georgia Tech’s homecoming game at noon on Saturday against Duke isn’t likely to require any secret encryption software for either side. The teams play every year, and the two head coaches are each in their ninth season at their respective programs.
“We’ve played them so many years that we pretty much know what they’re going to do, and they pretty much know what we’re going to do,” Georgia Tech head Paul Johnson said.
But the past two years, the Blue Devils have found a way to win the game. The Blue Devils’ win in 2014 broke Duke’s 10-game losing streak against Georgia Tech, which leads the series 50-32-1. The teams have played every year since the series began in 1933.
In the two losses, it has been Georgia Tech’s defense that has failed to live up to its billing. In 2014, the Yellow Jackets lost 31-25 but went on to win the Orange Bowl. In 2015, the Blue Devils prevailed 34-20 in Durham.
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“Our last two games against them have been different,” Johnson said. “Last year, we did not play well up there offensively. Down here the year before we turned the ball over. We had some yards and moved the ball but had too many turnovers to win.”
Last year Georgia Tech rushed for only 173 yards on 60 carries, halting a 17-game streak with at least 200 rushing yards, and the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over with two interceptions.
“We did play well last year,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “Obviously, the weather hampered them, but it hampered us, too.”
The Duke defense has gotten used to seeing the Yellow Jackets every year, and it got an early taste of facing an option attack when it defeated Army 13-6 on Oct. 8.
“No offense to Army, but when you watch Georgia Tech, their personnel is better, and they run and do what they do better,” Cutcliffe said. “This is a really good Georgia Tech football team.”
The Duke defense has played well, even though it gets overshadowed in an ACC loaded with defenses. The Blue Devils are tied for 32nd in the nation in scoring defense (21.9 points) and 52nd against the run (149.9 yards).
“They’re really pretty good on defense when you watch the tape,” Johnson said. “They’re well-coached. They’ve played very well against option teams the last two or three years, from Navy to Army to us. They’ve got a good scheme, and they execute it pretty well.”
Injury update: Johnson said there were only a couple of players missing from Monday’s practice. He would not speculate about the status of linebacker P.J. Davis, saying only, “We’ll know later this week.”
Kickoff time for UNC on hold: The starting time for the Yellow Jackets’ game Nov. 5 at North Carolina will not be known until this week’s games are over.