ATLANTA -- It doesn’t happen often, but Georgia Tech will get a chance this week to play another option team.
Wofford, the opponent for Georgia Tech in the season opener Saturday, is another option-based team. There’s a slight difference in the way each team operates. Georgia Tech puts its quarterback under center, while Wofford, which calls its offense a “wingbone,” will run some sets out of a shotgun formation.
“They’ve got their ways of doing it, just like we do,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “The scheme of things is the same.”
The philosophy has been successful for both programs, too. Last year Georgia Tech ranked sixth in the nation with 299.3 yards of rushing per game. Wofford ranked fifth in the FCS with 269.9 yards rushing per game, the 17th straight year the team has finished among the top seven nationally in rushing yards.
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“When you line up and look at the other team, it’s not going to be like you haven’t played against some of the stuff in fall camp,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of carryover, and the two teams are similar.”
Wofford head coach Mike Ayers said, “We understand the game we play is against a very tough opponent. It’s almost like looking in the mirror. You’re seeing the same plays that we run, and they run those plays, as well. They happen to be running them with bigger, faster and stronger people.”
Wofford has six starters back on offense, including All-Southern Conference lineman T.J. Chamberlin and running back Will Gay, who is the team’s top rusher (486 yards, two touchdowns) returning from last year. Evan Jackson won a four-way competition for the quarterback spot thanks to consistency and strong performance in the second scrimmage.
“The game could go really fast,” Johnson said. “Two teams that run the football, try to possess it.”
Ayers said, “I’m sure their mindset is they’re going to grind it and take it to us and if it takes 17 plays, they’ll be willing to go 17 plays.
Johnson and Ayers have known each other for years. They first met when Johnson was at East Tennessee State and later when Johnson was at Georgia Southern and Ayers at Wofford.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect,” Johnson said. “They do a good job. All you have to do is watch the tape, and you can see they know what they’re doing.”
There are 18 Georgians on the Wofford roster. They include Daryl Vining, a redshirt freshman from Houston County who is currently running No. 2 at outside linebacker.
Seven players, including backup offensive lineman Nick Brigham, are out for Saturday’s game. Brigham is out with a concussion. Others who won’t play against Wofford are safety Jalen Johnson (neck), B-back Chris Leggett (hamstring), offensive lineman Michael Preddy (foot), linebacker Rusty Scott (ankle), quarterback BradySwilling (hand) and defensive back Roderick Tyler (ankle). Probables are offensive linemen Gary Brown (toe), linebacker Anthony Harrell (knee) and defensive lineman Terrell Lewis (ankle).